Stockton Drunk Driving Accident Lawyers
Drunk driving is a national dilemma, with about 32 people dying each day as a result of drunk driving—that’s one person dying every 45 minutes. In 2020 alone,11,654 people died in alcohol impairment-related crashes. The worst part is that these deaths were 100% preventable.
Family members of victims killed in drunk driving accidents know the grief of tragically and unexpectedly losing a family member from intoxicated driving. Moreover, drunk driving accident victims understand the strife that comes in the aftermath of a car accident. No one should have to seek the justice they deserve alone. The Stockton drunk driving accident lawyers at Silva Injury Law are here to assist you with your drunk driving lawsuit while you go through this difficult time.
California DUI Accidents
In 2020, California was a leading state in DUI-related traffic fatalities. Although it may seem common sense to some, not everyone understands the severity of the effects that alcohol has on the body. In fact, only 23.7% of people say that having four or fewer drinks will prevent them from getting behind the wheel. And 37.4% of college-aged students believe they can operate a vehicle after having three or four drinks. Some good news is that half of the people surveyed said they use ridesharing when going out for drinks. With these alarming statistics in mind, it seems almost inevitable that intoxicated driving is a common occurrence.
California Drunk Driving Laws
With the plague of negligent driving due to intoxication readily apparent, California enacted and supported laws and campaigns for the safety of its citizens. California has strict drunk driving laws that aim to curb the problem. These laws aim to regulate:
- Possession of alcohol for drivers under 21 years of age,
- Blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limits for all drivers, and
- Use or possession of alcohol while in a vehicle.
Not only do these laws subject negligent drivers to legal restrictions, but their violation may result in hefty fines or other penalties. For example, in California, it’s illegal to drive with an open container of alcohol in the vehicle anywhere in the passenger compartment. If there is an open container of alcohol, it must be placed in the trunk. This sort of law aims to deter drunk driving by making it a penalty to keep open alcohol containers even when they are empty.
Parties That May Be Liable For Drunk Driving Accidents
Most people attempt to hold the driver responsible for their wrongdoing by seeking monetary damages through a civil lawsuit. However, in certain cases, the driver of the vehicle may not be liable for damages. The liable party may be:
- The driver’s parents,
- A private party host,
- A bar or club, or
- A restaurant.
For example, if a teenage driver was allowed to drink by their parents and then subsequently drove their car, the parents may be liable for a resulting accident. Similarly, if the bartender at a bar or club allows a patron to become intoxicated and then drive their vehicle, the establishment may be subject to liability. This type of liability comes from California’s dram shop laws.
Can I File Criminal Charges?
Understandably, a drunk driving accident victim may not think that a fine or a civil lawsuit provides enough accountability from the driver. In the case of a serious DUI accident where there was either a loss of life or severe injury, the state of California agrees. Under California law, it is illegal for drivers to injure another person in an auto accident from drunk driving. This law allows for violators to be charged with a criminal felony. Keep in mind that the criminal case is not the same as your civil case. Although both cases may run concurrently, the civil lawsuit seeks monetary damages for injuries while the criminal lawsuit seeks to punish and reform the wrongdoer.
DUI Statute Of Limitations
If you need to file a drunk driving lawsuit, do not delay. California’s statute of limitations to file your personal injury lawsuit ends two years after the date of the accident. Failure to file before this deadline bars recovery. This means that you probably will lose your ability to recover monetary damages stemming from the accident if you wait too long. While there may be exceptions that apply to your case, a good rule of thumb is to get ahead of the statute of limitations by filing your claim right after the accident occurs. This way, if the liable party does not offer a decent settlement amount, your attorney has the opportunity to bring the case to court.
After the accident, victims may suffer not only chronic pain but massive debt resulting from medical bills. It is essential to note the expenses that you can realistically recover from a drunk driving lawsuit:
- Medical bills,
- Rehabilitative care,
- Mental health treatment,
- Loss of compensation,
- Property damage or loss, and
- Pain and suffering.
Generally, if the loss or expense is attributable to the accident, a drunk driving accident victim may recover these compensatory damages. An experienced attorney will be able to assist you with obtaining the compensation that you deserve.