In California, drunk driving is a serious problem. From major cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco to the suburbs of Riverside and San Bernardino County, drunk driving accidents happen everywhere—often with devastating consequences. If you were hit by a drunk driver in California, or if a member of your family was tragically killed by a drunk driver, there is a lot you need to know.
10 Key Facts If You or a Family Member was Hit By a Drunk Driver in California
We’ll begin with an overview of some key facts. These are short and sweet, and they are intended to help accident victims and families gain a basic understanding of their situation. Below these key facts you will find a list of FAQs about pursuing a claim for a drunk driving accident in California.
1. You are Not Alone
If you are coping with the aftermath of a drunk driving accident in California, you are not alone. Each year, drunk drivers cause more than 1,000 fatal accidents in the state, and they cause far more accidents that result in non-fatal injuries.
2. Drunk Driving is Negligent Driving in California
In California, not only is it illegal to drink and drive (meaning that drunk drivers can face criminal prosecution for DUI), but drunk driving is also considered legally negligent. This means individuals who have been hit by a drunk driver in California and families who have lost loved ones can pursue claims for just compensation.
3. Auto Insurance Covers Drunk Driving Accidents
If the drunk driver has auto insurance (which he or she should, since auto insurance is required under California law), his or her insurance policy should apply to your (or your family member’s) accident. If you or any member of your household has uninsured/underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage, this policy should apply as well.
4. A DUI Conviction Does Not Result in Restitution
While a DUI conviction can result in fines, jail time, and other penalties, it will not result in payment of restitution to you or your family. In order to pursue a claim for just compensation, you will need to file a civil claim. In most cases, civil claims for drunk driving accidents are resolved through insurance settlements, but in some cases it will be necessary to go to court.
5. Financial Compensation is Available to Drunk Driving Accident Victims and Grieving Families
California law takes drunk driving very seriously, and it makes financial compensation available to those who have been hit by a drunk driver. It also makes financial compensation available to eligible family members who have lost loved ones in fatal drunk driving accidents.
6. The Costs of Being Hit By a Drunk Driver in California Can Be Substantial
From medical bills to loss of future earnings, the costs of being hit by a drunk driver in California can be substantial. In many cases, they will far exceed what families can afford. Fortunately, all of these costs are recoverable under California law.
7. California Law Allows for Recovery of Damages for Pain and Suffering in Drunk Driving Accident Cases
In addition to compensation for the financial costs of a drunk driving accident, victims and families can seek compensation for the non-financial costs as well. This includes compensation for pain and suffering, emotional trauma, loss of consortium and companionship, and loss of enjoyment of life.
8. You Will Need a Lawyer to Help You Recover
To pursue a successful claim after being hit by a drunk driver in California, you will need an experienced lawyer on your side. You can get a free consultation from a local California drunk driving accident lawyer 24/7 through CarAccidentSource.com.
9. It Costs Nothing Out-of-Pocket to Hire a Lawyer
Lawyers handle drunk driving accident cases “on contingency.” This means that it costs nothing out of pocket to hire a lawyer to represent you or your family. If your case is successful, your legal fees will be calculated as a percentage of your financial recovery. As a result, your lawyer has both a professional and a financial incentive to help you recover as much as possible.
10. You Don’t Have To (and Should Not) Wait to See What Happens in the Drunk Driver’s DUI Case
Many people assume that they have to wait for the drunk driver’s DUI case to end to find out if they can pursue a claim. This is not the case. For a variety of reasons, you can (and should) get started on your claim immediately.
FAQs: What You Need to Know After Being Hit By a Drunk Driver in California
What happens if a drunk driver hits you?
If a drunk driver hits you, the short answer is that nothing happens automatically—at least not with regard to your legal rights. While the drunk driver might get arrested and prosecuted for DUI, this will not result in payment of any financial compensation to your or your family. In order to recover financial compensation, you will need to hire a lawyer to pursue a claim, and you should do so as soon as possible.
Will insurance pay out if I was hit by a drunk driver?
Since auto insurance covers drunk driving accidents, the drunk driver’s insurance company should pay out when you file a claim. With that said, it is still up to you to prove your right to coverage. Even if it is obvious that you were hit by a drunk driver, you will still need to collect and present evidence in order to recover the financial compensation you deserve. An attorney can handle this for you, and your attorney can determine if you have any other claims for compensation as well.
What if I was hit by a drunk driver who doesn’t have insurance?
If you were hit by a drunk driver who doesn’t have insurance, you potentially have a few options available. One option is to file an uninsured motorist (UM) claim. If you or any member of your household has UM coverage, you should be able to use this coverage to secure compensation for your drunk driving accident. Depending on the circumstances involved, other options may include filing a claim against a bar or restaurant, filing a claim against the drunk driver’s parents (if he or she is a minor), and filing a claim against the drunk driver’s employer.
Should I sue if I was hit by a drunk driver in California?
In some cases it will be necessary to sue in order to recover just compensation for a drunk driving accident. However, most successful claims are resolved out of court through insurance settlement negotiations. You will want to hire a lawyer to represent you, as your lawyer will be able to negotiate on your behalf and file a lawsuit on your behalf if necessary.
What should I do if I was hit by a drunk driver in California?
If you have been hit by a drunk driver in California, you should speak with a lawyer immediately. This is the best way to protect your legal rights. Your lawyer will be able to quickly gather evidence, explain your next steps, and deal with the insurance companies while you focus on your recovery.