A Los Angeles-area man was hospitalized on Christmas Eve after his car was struck by a suspected drunk driver in Westminster. The driver, who did not appear to suffer any injuries, was arrested at the scene. Treating car accident-related injuries can be incredibly expensive. In order to pay for his hospitalization, medical expenses, and other accident-related costs, the victim may consider filing a personal injury claim for damages against the drunk driver.
Drunk Driving Accidents in Los Angeles
Drunk driving accidents occur more frequently during the winter holiday season. According to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there was an average of 35 car accident-related deaths per day between 2001 and 2005. The number of car accident-related deaths skyrocketed around Christmas (45 deaths per day) and New Year’s (54 deaths per day). A staggering number of these accidents are often attributed to driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol. In 2015, more than one-third of winter holiday accidents were reportedly caused by drunk driving.
Holding a Drunk Driver Accountable For an Accident
When you are injured by a drunk driver you may have the right to file a personal injury claim for damages. A successful claim can allow you to recover much-needed compensation to pay for hospitalization, medical expenses, lost wages, and even pain and suffering. How can you make sure that your claim is successful? How can you hold a drunk driver accountable for their actions?
Negligence in Los Angeles
A personal injury claim following a drunk driving accident will generally be based on the law of negligence. When another person’s negligence causes you to suffer an injury, you can hold them legally accountable for any damages that result. Negligence occurs when a person has and breaches a legal duty. A person can be held liable for their negligence when the behavior causes another person to suffer an injury.
Elements of Negligence
In order to prove negligence in your drunk driving case, you will have to prove:
- The driver who caused your accident had a duty to drive safely;
- The driver who caused your accident breached this duty; and
- You suffered an injury as a result of this breach.
Any driver who gets behind the wheel of a car in Los Angeles assumes a duty to drive responsibly. This means driving with a valid license, making sure that the car is insured, following posted rules and regulations, and exercising care for others on the road. Consuming alcohol before driving can be a breach of this duty.
Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol
If a driver is intoxicated, or under the influence of alcohol to the point where they cannot drive safely, they can be held liable for any damage they cause. In Los Angeles, a driver will be considered “under the influence” of alcohol if his or her blood alcohol level (BAC) is .08 percent or greater. A driver can be considered under the influence of alcohol if his or her BAC is less than .08 percent if there is other evidence to support their intoxication. Slurred speech, confusion, and failed field sobriety tests can all help to prove that a driver is intoxicated. When a driver is arrested and convicted of a DUI, a victim can use this as proof that the driver was negligent in causing their injuries.
What to Do After a Drunk Driving Accident
When you are injured by a drunk driver you may suffer significant and costly injuries. While your first thought may not be about filing a car accident lawsuit, it is important to keep it in the back of your mind. Taking the following steps after a drunk driving accident can help to support a personal injury claim you decide to file in the future.
- Get attention immediately. Make sure you get checked out by a medical professional as soon as possible, even if you don’t think you’ve been seriously injured. This will help to keep you safe and document your injuries.
- Report the accident. A police report may be inadmissible as evidence in your case, but it will help to document important details about your accident. Your attorney will use this as a launching point for a future investigation.
- Gather evidence. Take photographs, collect copies of medical and property damage reports, collect witness information, and keep a journal of your thoughts and feelings. The more evidence and information you have, the greater your chances of recovering the compensation you deserve.
- Don’t accept early offers. Insurance companies representing the drunk driver may be quick to offer you a settlement for your injuries. Resist the urge to take this money! These companies will do everything in their power to limit the amount you recover, including offering you an attractive (but extremely low) offer right off the bat. You can recover more if you are patient and enlist the help of an experienced Los Angeles attorney.
- Get legal assistance. If you want to maximize the compensation you receive you should call an experienced Los Angeles personal injury attorney for help. We know how insurance companies operate and, more importantly, how to beat them at their own game. We know that this is a difficult time in your life and will make sure that you are properly compensated for your injuries.
Experienced Los Angeles Car Accident Attorneys
If you have been injured because of a drunk driver this holiday season, do not hesitate to call the Citywide Law Group for help. For the past 17 years, we have handled thousands of complex personal injury claims and helped clients just like you recover millions in compensation. We are confident that we can help you recover the damages you need and deserve following your Los Angeles drunk driving accident. Call our Los Angeles car accident attorneys today to schedule a free consultation and learn more.