Secure Maximum Compensation with a DUI Accident Lawyer

Driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI) are terms that define alcohol-related driving behavior that is responsible for more than a third of motor vehicle traffic deaths in the United States. If you and your family have been affected by impaired driving, you can understand the pain, frustration, and anger that often follows these accidents.

As any DUI accident lawyer can tell you, impaired driving brings widespread devastation. In San Diego, CA, our personal injury attorneys have assisted DUI accident victims and are dedicated to achieving a successful outcome, and recovering just compensation for your injuries and other losses.

Driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs is a crime, but criminal prosecution will not help your family after a catastrophic accident. If a drunk driver is to blame for your injury, Kerry Steigerwalt can help you explore your legal rights. You may be entitled to significant compensation.

A police officer with a field breathalyzer

DUI Accidents

A staggering number of people have been injured or killed in drunk driving accidents. The Center for Disease Control statistics reveal that 10,327 Californians were killed in alcohol-impaired driving collisions between 2003 and 2012. Nationwide, almost 10,000 people lost their lives because of an impaired driver in 2014 alone, an average of one fatality every 53 minutes.

Our attorneys have over 30 years of experience taking on large insurance companies. We have successfully assisted plaintiffs in pursuing full and just compensation for their injuries and losses.

These accidents account for about a third of U.S. traffic deaths each year. Drugs, both recreational and prescription, are thought to cause an additional 16 percent of motor vehicle accident fatalities. In addition to vehicle deaths, the number of catastrophic injuries, including traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord trauma, that could be attributed to driving under the influence is inestimable.

Steps to Take After A DUI Accident

If you have been hit by a drunk driver, it is important to call 911 as soon as it is safe to do so. Drunk drivers often try to flee the crime scene, or switch seats in order to avoid charges, so if possible, you should take a photograph of the guilty driver. It is also important to not move your vehicle from the scene in order to preserve evidence of the drunk driving accident.

California DUI Facts

According to California's DUI laws, it is illegal to drive a motor vehicle with any of the following blood alcohol concentration (BAC) percentages:

  • For 21 years old or older driving a regular passenger vehicle - 0.08% or higher
  • For drivers operating a commercial vehicle - 0.04% or higher
  • For drivers younger than 21 years old - 0.01% or higher

California's DUI laws include medications, as well. A person cannot legally drive if they have consumed illegal drugs or excessive amounts of:

  • Drugs with alcohol in them (such as cough syrup)
  • Prescription medications
  • Over-the-counter medications

Most DUIs are treated as misdemeanor offenses in California, but multiple past convictions or an aggravated DUI charge can lead to felony penalties. This is relevant to plaintiffs in a civil DUI case because a criminal charge and conviction can demonstrate clear or even gross negligence.

A DUI can be escalated to an aggravated charge for many reasons, including:

  • High blood alcohol concentration

  • Minors in the vehicle

  • Suspended or revoked driver's license

  • Excessive speeding

  • Causing bodily injury

  • Fatalities

Injuries Caused By A DUI Accident

A DUI or DWI accident can result in grievous and debilitating injuries, and is a major cause of traumatic brain injuries. These injuries can vary from a mild concussion to a serious open head wound.

Other injuries caused by a DUI accident include spinal cord injuries, fractured or crushed bones, disfigurement or scarring, neck injuries, back injuries, face and dental injuries, and more. Apart from physical injuries, a victim can also sustain psychological injuries such as emotional distress caused by the trauma of the accident. In some cases, victims may also develop post traumatic stress disorder.

Establishing Responsibility in Drunk Driving Accidents

More than one party may be held responsible for a drunk driving accident, including:

Drunk Drivers. Drivers are responsible for their actions, including their decision to get behind the wheel despite alcohol or drug consumption.

Bar or Restaurant or Hotel Staff and Owners. Business owners and staff are expected to exercise due care and refuse to serve alcohol to anybody who is evidently drunk. Ignoring to do so may serve as grounds for negligence, and they may be accountable for damages under dram shop liability.

Party Hosts. Similarly, the host of a party may be held liable for a DUI accident if they served alcohol to a guest despite their being inebriated.

Civil Case Vs. Criminal Proceedings

The victims of a drunk driving accident can pursue a civil claim to recover monetary damages apart from pressing criminal charges. However, the procedures and verdicts are different in civil claims as compared to criminal proceedings.

A drunk driver can face criminal proceedings even if no accident or injury occurred, as this step is taken to deter future drunk driving and protecting the public from harm, as well as punish the driver for reckless or negligent behavior. 

A civil suit seeks to recover damages for the injuries and other losses suffered by the victim of a DUI accident. In the case of a wrongful death caused by drunk driving, a civil suit claims compensation for the deceased's family members or dependents. 

A personal injury lawsuit may be the only recourse for DUI accident victims to recover the expenses of medical treatment, lost wages, damaged property, cost of ongoing rehabilitation, lost future income potential, and more.

Seeking Legal Representation 

If you are the victim of a DUI accident, it is crucial to get in touch with a qualified attorney as soon as possible following the incident. Insurance adjusters will often try to downplay your damages and offer minimal settlements.

California is a fault or tort state, and a driver must be found responsible for causing the DUI accident before that person’s insurance pays for damages. Also, California follows the pure comparative negligence law. This means that each party’s negligence is assessed in comparison to the other's, and damages are awarded according to the percentage of fault.

Auto accident cases involving fault issues can be complicated and require the skills of a knowledgeable attorney who can settle these matters while protecting your best interests.

Our attorneys have over 30 years of experience holding drunk drivers accountable and taking on large insurance companies. We have successfully assisted plaintiffs in pursuing maximum compensation for their injuries and losses. These can include medical expenses, loss of income, pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and more. In some cases, punitive damages can also be included. We have recovered millions of dollars in settlements and jury awards for our personal injury and wrongful death clients.

Contact Us For A Free Evaluation

At San Diego Injury Lawyer, we have a long history of successful advocacy for personal injury cases. Our fees are contingency-based, which means that our legal services will not cost you anything unless we are able to secure compensation for your injuries. Our attorneys offer a free consultation to provide more information and discuss the specific details of your case. Please contact us today to schedule an appointment.