Orange County Drunk Driving Lawyers
Drunk drivers both violate the law and endanger the public. While the criminal justice system takes its course to hold drunk drivers criminally liable, that does little to help injury victims in drunk driving accidents.
You have the right to seek compensation after a drunk driving accident resulting in injuries and losses. However, the compensation recovery process is complex, even in impaired driving cases. You will need help from Orange County drunk driving lawyers from Bentley & More LLP.
Definition of DUI
California law prohibits drivers from having a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or higher. There is a zero-tolerance policy for drivers under 21. Drivers who have 0.16 percent BAC or higher can face enhanced penalties. Driving under the influence also applies to drugs, which are harder to assess. Legally a person whom the police arrest for driving under the influence gives implied consent to submit to BAC testing. Drivers cannot refuse a blood or breath test.
How Alcohol Impairs the Brain
Alcohol and drugs impact the brain in different ways, and sometimes the impacts are not obvious. When a person stays at the location where they were drinking, they can sleep it off and not lead to severe consequences. However, driving can enhance the impact of alcohol, causing life-changing consequences for the driver or others on the road.
Alcohol will impair a person’s ability to see, resulting in blurry or double vision. Drivers will have difficulty seeing the road, identifying lane markers, and seeing traffic lights, signs, or other vehicles. Drunk motorists will have a challenging time seeing pedestrians and others, making driving safely impossible.
Lack of coordination
People who have had too much to drink will stumble about. The lack of coordination extends to their driving ability. Drunk drivers will swerve and veer out of the lane. Drivers are operating their vehicles as an extension of themselves.
Driving requires concentration to assess the road and nearby traffic. When alcohol is involved, it will shorten the person’s attention span. When drivers cannot concentrate, they are not paying attention to the road and will therefore place everyone in danger.
Decision-making is critical when driving, and alcohol will prevent drivers from making responsible decisions. It is clear the alcohol is talking if the person has gotten behind the wheel in the first place. Impaired judgment often leads to collisions, and many drunk drivers will flee the scene. They will flee because they don’t realize they were in a crash or want to avoid penalties.
You never know when you must suddenly brake to avoid a hazard. Alcohol impairs reaction time so that drivers won’t respond to sudden stops, pedestrians crossing the street, or traffic merging. Alcohol will lengthen the time it takes to react to these and other issues on the road.
With so many impacts on the brain, it is no wonder that drunk driving accidents are prevalent in Orange County. When a driver is not in their right mind, innocent victims suffer. Discuss the impacts of alcohol and how it relates to your claim with an Orange County drunk driving lawyer,
Mothers Against Drunk Driving knows the impacts drunk drivers have on families. They compile statistics and have resources to help victims of drunk driving accidents. The group has found that drunk driving is 100 percent preventable. Statistics regarding drunk driving are horrendous and made worse, knowing they are preventable. Every 51 minutes, someone dies from drunk driving collisions, with 28 people dying daily.
Statewide statistics are not much better than the ones MADD found. In a single calendar year, 82 people died from drunk driving incidents. Three cases involved a driver under 21, with 20 cases involving drivers between 21 and 24.
Drunk drivers can be misdemeanors or felony offenses depending on the circumstance and the prosecutor’s decision. When there are injuries or death, the DUI conviction penalties will increase.
A first-time DUI conviction is a misdemeanor with fines ranging from $390 to $1,000 in addition to court fees. Driver’s license suspension will also range from six months to one year, and a jail sentence can range from 48 hours to six months. Sometimes a three or five-year probation is available instead of a jail sentence.
Second DUI offenses within ten years are misdemeanors with the same penalties plus some additional ones. License suspension will be upward of two years, and drivers must have an ignition interlock device for 12 months. Jail time increases to 96 hours to one year or house arrest. Third DUI convictions are a step above second convictions with a three-year license suspension and the IID for two years. There is a mandatory jail sentence of 120 days to one year.
Felony DUI convictions result when there are injuries or death, and the penalties are much steeper. The driver will face a sentence of 16 months to four years. When a death occurs, the driver can face the charge of vehicular manslaughter, second-degree murder, or grossly negligent vehicular manslaughter, which can lead to 15 years to life in prison. DUI convictions are essential for your claim, but the criminal process is separate from the civil process. If there is a criminal conviction, a lawyer can use it as evidence during your compensation claim.
Although drunk drivers face jail time, their incarceration will not prevent victims from getting compensation if they win their cases. Their insurance company is the one who will pay for your losses. So even if they are in jail paying for their actions, you can still seek compensation.
Drunk Driving Victims Have Options
Accident victims have legal options to seek compensation through a personal injury lawsuit. Identifying all potentially liable parties is an indispensable part of the legal process.
You will benefit from hiring an Orange County drunk driving attorney. Bentley & More LLP will investigate and gather evidence of the accident, including eyewitness statements, police reports, and accident photos. We will help document your injuries and losses to tabulate fair compensation.
Once the preliminary process is complete, your drunk driving attorney in Orange County will file your injury claim with the insurance company and seek a settlement. We will use our negotiation skills to work for a fair offer. When necessary, we will prepare your court case. Most accident claims reach their resolution before trial, but it is best to have a law firm with trial experience.
Liability for Drunk Driving
Dram shop liability was the rule in California that allowed victims to seek damages from bars and other establishments. California has revised the law, and you cannot hold bars or other establishments responsible for drunk driving accidents. The reason behind this change is drinking and driving is the cause of accidents – not serving or selling alcohol. The law now holds the driver responsible for whether they choose to drink and drive, as their actions are not the establishment’s responsibility.
There are some exceptions to dram shop laws involving minors. The social host rule allows injury victims to sue a property owner or social host responsible for serving alcohol to minors and be held accountable for drunk driving collisions. Among the essential things your Orange County drunk driving lawyer will do is identify liable parties to solidify the benefits and compensation you can seek. The driver, insurance carrier, corporate entities, and employers can be responsible for collisions.
What If The Driver Is Uninsured?
Being involved in a car accident is chaotic, and you assume that all drivers have car insurance or they wouldn’t be on the road. However, some at-fault drivers are uninsured. While this can further complicate your compensation, claim it does not exempt you from seeking compensation for your losses. Your insurance policy may offer some reprieve, but it is best to speak with a drunk driving lawyer in Orange County to review your case.
Potential Damages In a Drunk Driving Accident
Filing a car accident claim serves two purposes. You can hold the at-fault party responsible for their actions and recover financially. The damages you qualify for will be specific to the circumstance surrounding your crash, injuries insurance, and more.
Generally, you can seek damages such as:
- Psychological distress
- Medical expenses
- Lost income and earnings
- Loss of earning capacity
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Disability benefits
- Physical and emotional pain and suffering
- Punitive damages
You can recover these and other damages in a compensation claim. You need an Orange County drunk driving lawyer to assess your damages and find payment avenues. Your best chance of getting fair compensation is to work with an experienced drunk-driving lawyer at Bentley & More, LLP.
Average Compensation Award
There is no average drunk driving settlement in California, as the amount each injury victim deserves will depend on individual factors. What you can seek will depend on the severity of your injuries, your losses, and the impact on your life. The worse your injury, generally the more your case is worth, but each situation requires an individual evaluation.
Helping Families After Fatal Accidents
As you have learned, drunk driving accidents can be fatal. The victim is gone but not forgotten. They cannot speak for themselves or seek justice, but their families can. An Orange County drunk driving lawyer can pursue compensation for the death of your loved one through a personal injury lawsuit. A person’s life doesn’t have a price, but the only way to get justice is to seek payment from the negligent party.
Families will suffer tremendous financial loss when their loved one dies unexpectedly. When filing a wrongful death claim, families can seek payment for funeral and burial expenses, medical expenses, property damage, and future losses. You may need the assistance of an economist or financial expert to calculate how much the person would have made during their lifetime.
How Do You Strengthening Your Claim?
Your Orange County drunk driving lawyer is working hard to seek compensation and pay you for your losses. However, there are some things you can and shouldn’t do to strengthen your claim. You should not admit fault for the accident, including not saying sorry or apologizing. Never accept the first settlement from the insurance company or sign any documents without your drunk driving attorney’s advice.
You should attend all medical appointments and get the treatment the doctors recommend to make you feel better. Even if you feel fine, the insurance company can use a missed appointment to argue that you are not severely injured. Avoid discussing the accident on social media or with anyone not in the accident. Any statement you make or picture you post is evidence the insurance company can use.
Call an Orange County Drunk Driving Lawyer
Bentley & More, LLP, has a network of medical professionals and other experts that can help build an accident case. If you are a lawyer and get a drunk driving case that is solid but out of your wheelhouse or requires additional assistance, we can help. Attorney referrals are welcome. Drunk driving victims must take legal steps to hold at-fault parties responsible for their losses. You also need to seek payment for your tangible and intangible losses. Reach out to a Orange County personal injury lawyer.
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Bentley & More LLP – Orange County Office
Phone: (949) 617-0938