Any vehicle accident is devastating, but it can be overwhelming to realize that someone in your family who was injured or killed in a drunk driving accident was harmed due to preventable actions. Being hit by a drunk driver should never happen, and yet too many families in Beverly Hills suffer the consequences of these crashes.
It is illegal to drink and drive, and yet too many people get behind the wheel of a car without realizing their level of impairment or despite their level of intoxication. In those cases, those drunk drivers may be held responsible in a personal injury lawsuit filed by a Beverly Hills car accident lawyer
If you believe you have grounds for a claim against someone for a drunk driving accident, contact One Law Group in Beverly Hills now for more information about filing a lawsuit.
Compensation for Being Hit by a Drunk Driver
An injured victim may be eligible to pursue compensation from a drunk driver covering a broad range of expenses. Meeting with a knowledgeable Beverly Hills DUI accident lawyer is essential when you’ve been hit by a drunk driver.
Your drunk driving accident attorney in Beverly Hills can help you determine the full scope of compensation that you may be entitled to. In general, this includes property damage, income loss from being unable to work, medical bills, pain resulting from the crash, and suffering due to being unable to participate in regular activities.
Victims of DUI collisions in California may also be entitled to punitive damages. Insurance policies do not pay punitive damages, so this would apply directly to the drunk driver themselves.
Per California Civil Code 3294(a), punitive damages are available to victims when a defendant is guilty of oppression, fraud, or malice. Typically California courts consider the operation of a motor vehicle while intoxicated as an act of malice. It is essential to have a qualified drunk driving accident lawyer to help present your case to court.
California Drinking and Driving Laws
It’s illegal to drink and drive with a blood alcohol content of .08% or higher if you’re over 21 years old. For drivers under 21 and anyone on DUI probation, that BAC cap drops to .01%.
When you’re injured by someone under the influence of alcohol in an accident, there may be both a criminal and a civil component to that claim. For example, the police may charge the offending driver with a violation of existing California drinking and driving laws. At the same time, you may have grounds to pursue compensation due to the injuries you sustained in the accident.
When someone is charged with and convicted of California drinking and driving laws, this can help to bolster your argument regarding their negligence and liability in your personal injury lawsuit. It does not guarantee success in your lawsuit. Your attorney should also be familiar with gathering evidence that may indicate the other driver’s level of liability in the accident.
There are various classifications for meeting the definition of legally drunk in California. A driver of a commercial vehicle, for example, is legally drunk when their blood alcohol content is 0.04% or higher. A non-commercial driver above age 21 is legally drunk when their blood alcohol level reaches 0.08 or more. And drivers under 21 are legally drunk when their blood alcohol is 0.01 or more.
Penalties may apply for criminal drunk driving in California, including fines of up to $1,000 and time in a county jail for anywhere from 96 hours to six months for a person convicted of a first-time DUI. The penalties escalate based on multiple DUI convictions within specific periods.
Furthermore, a person convicted of a first-time DUI that causes serious bodily injury to another faces jail time of up to one year and can be subjected to a fine of up to $1,000, in addition to a driver’s license suspension period of one year. If the person who committed a DUI caused bodily injury or death to more than one individual, they will also receive a state prison enhancement of one year for every additional injured party.
For a second DUI that caused bodily injury to another person within ten years of the first conviction, imprisonment may last up to one year and carry fines as high as $5,000. This also comes with a driver’s license revocation period of three years.
Finally, a person convicted of a third DUI with serious bodily injury to another individual within a decade of the previous convictions faces a state prison term of up to four years and a fine of up to $5,000 with a driver’s license revocation period of five years.
Alcohol Liability Laws in California
California Civil Code Section 1714,
responsibility for willful and negligent acts, has a tightened definition of the strict liability element. Previously, persons injured by a drunk driver were eligible to seek compensation from bars that sold alcohol to a minor or a visibly impaired person who went on to injure people by driving drunk.
In 2012 however, this responsibility shifted primarily to the person drinking the alcohol rather than the business as the proximate cause of injuries. There is an exception to this rule, however, in which you may also have a liability claim against a bar in California, and that is intoxicated minors.
If any California business sells alcohol to a minor who is already visibly impaired, any damages resulting from a DUI crash caused by that driver may become the responsibility of that establishment. Minors are not allowed to drink under any circumstances in California. Similarly, state law does not extend any civil liability to a host who serves alcohol in their home to impaired guests, with the exception of minors.
Despite the state level laws limiting who you may be able to pursue compensation against for serving someone intoxicated, there may be cities and towns with their own ordinances that establish further liability for the service of alcohol to any minor. Always research where the accident occurred to determine how this may impact you.
Contact a DUI Accident Lawyer in Beverly Hills
If you or someone you know is working through the impacts of a drunk driving accident, you need legal counsel to help you review all your rights after the crash. Your decision to hire a DUI accident lawyer is an important one. Contact an attorney
at One Law Group
in Beverly Hills to discover what’s next when you’ve been hit by a drunk driver.