Drunk Driving Accidents

Despite efforts to crack down on drunk driving in California and nationwide, impaired drivers remain a serious threat on the road. Between 2005 and 2012, more than 10,000 people were killed in crashes involving drunk drivers in California, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While California sees fewer deadly DUI crashes than the national average, the state loses far too many lives in these preventable crashes.

At Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP, we help people who have sustained serious injuries pursue justice and compensation for their losses. Our attorneys have extensive experience representing people hurt in motor vehicle accidents, including those caused by impaired drivers.

If you have been affected by a life-changing injury or lost a loved one due to a drunk driver's negligence, please read on to learn more about your legal options, or contact us for a free initial consultation. We accept personal injury cases on a contingency basis, which means we do not collect any attorney fees unless we secure compensation for you.

Can I Sue a Drunk Driver Who Caused an Accident?

Anyone who is injured in a car accident in California may sue the at-fault driver for damages. When the driver is found to be drunk or impaired by drugs, the victim may have additional claims to compensation.

Depending on the details of the accident, you may be able to pursue compensation for your losses, including:

  • Past and future medical bills based on an evaluation of your ongoing health care needs
  • Lost wages as a result of missed work
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Any modifications that must be made to a home, car or working environment because of injuries incurred in the accident
  • Punitive or exemplary damages, which are intended to punish the negligent party and discourage similar negligent behavior by others

If you are bringing a claim for the wrongful death of a loved one, you may be able to collect damages for funeral expenses, loss of future income and loss of consortium.

Criminal Vs. Civil DUI Proceedings

After a crash caused by an impaired driver, there will likely be two separate court proceedings: a criminal case and, if the victim chooses to sue, a civil claim for personal injury or wrongful death. These two cases are not tied to each other in the court system, but what happens in one case can have significant effects on the other.

For example, if the responsible driver is found guilty of DUI in the criminal case, it can improve the plaintiff's chances of winning a lawsuit. However, a conviction does not guarantee a favorable result in a civil case. If you have been involved in a crash with a drunk driver and been seriously injured as a result, it is essential that you arm yourself with the right personal injury attorneys.

At Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP, we have dedicated our practice to making things right for those who have suffered catastrophic injuries. At the same time, we can assist clients with their participation in criminal DUI trials, including victim impact statements and any testimony they are required to give.

Who Is Responsible?

Most people would agree that individual drivers are ultimately responsible for their own conduct, even if their judgment is compromised by alcohol. In criminal DUI proceedings, the individual who allegedly drove under the influence is typically the only person on trial.

However, determining legal responsibility for accidents caused by drunk drivers is often more complex and nuanced. While the drunk driver is often found to carry some responsibility, other parties may also contribute to the circumstances that caused the accident:

  • An insurance company - If the driver has auto insurance, his or her insurer will typically share some responsibility.
  • The driver's employer - Read about our recent DUI accident case below for an example of a case involving employer liability.
  • A bar, restaurant, bartender or server who over-served the driver - California's dram shop laws are very limited but, if the driver who caused the accident was a minor, a bar or restaurant that served them may be held liable.

Victims of drunk driving accidents may be able to collect limited compensation from the California Victim Compensation Board (CalVCB). CalVCB only reimburses certain expenses that were incurred as a direct result of a violent crime. Before pursuing any compensation from the CalVCB or other sources, it is wise to speak with an attorney to ensure you are preserving all of your legal rights.

Representative Case: $15 Million Verdict Against Employer of a Drunk Driver

Recently, our attorneys represented a man who was seriously injured in a drunk driving accident. Our client, who was on a Homeowners Association board, went to a bar with the condominium's property manager to plan upcoming events. The property manager became intoxicated but drove them both home. He caused a crash, which resulted in serious injuries that required our client to undergo multiple surgeries.

Our attorneys secured a $15 million verdict against the property management company. The jury found the company had been negligent in its hiring and supervision of the driver, who had a previous DUI on his record. While nothing can undo the pain that our client suffered, we are proud to have secured justice on his behalf as well as compensation for his ongoing expenses.

Find Out Why We're Trusted Nationwide. Call Today to Speak With a Lawyer.

The best way to determine whether you have a claim against a drunk driver is to get in touch with an experienced, responsive injury lawyer as promptly as possible. The sooner you retain an attorney, the more effectively they can collect evidence, investigate the facts and begin developing a strategy for success.

We invite you to find out how our extensive experience and history of success can benefit you after being hurt by a drunk driver's negligence. To have your questions answered in a no-cost consultation, please fill out our contact form or call our Santa Monica office, conveniently located near the Santa Monica Pier, at 866-738-0973.