Legal Steps if You’re Injured by a Drunk Driver in California

Drunk driving remains a significant issue in California, leading to numerous accidents and injuries every year.

Whether you were a pedestrian, cyclist, or driver involved in an accident with a drunk driver, there are essential legal steps you should take to protect yourself.

drinking beer while driving

Immediate Actions After the Accident

1. Ensure Safety and Call 911

The priority after an accident is to ensure your safety and the safety of others involved.

If you’re able, move to a safe location and call 911 immediately.

Request medical assistance if there are any injuries and report the accident to the police.

A police report will be essential for any future legal proceedings as it will establish the fact that the at-fault driver was intoxicated at the time of the accident.

2. Gather Evidence at the Scene

While waiting for emergency services, gather as much evidence as possible at the scene.

Take photos and videos of the vehicles, the scene, and any visible injuries.

Collect contact information from witnesses, as their statements can be valuable.

Don’t forget to exchange information with the other driver, including their license plate number, insurance details, and contact information.

3. Obtain a Thorough Medical Examination

Regardless of how minor you think your injuries might be, get a thorough medical examination.

Some injuries may not be immediately apparent but can have long-term consequences.

Documenting your injuries and following up with healthcare providers is essential for your well-being and your legal case.

Keep all medical records, bills, and treatment plans meticulously organized.

These documents will serve as evidence of your injuries and the costs incurred due to the accident.

They will be critical in securing compensation later.

man in an expensive suit drinks beer at the wheel of a car causing the danger of an emergency. A businessman drinks while driving. Drunk driver concept

4. Contact Law Enforcement and Legal Professionals

Ensure that an accurate and detailed police report is filed.

This report will include information about the accident, the drunk driver, and any preliminary findings that could support your case.

Additionally, hiring a personal injury attorney who specializes in DUI cases can significantly impact the outcome of your case.

An experienced personal injury lawyer can advocate on your behalf and work towards securing the best possible outcome.

5. Filing Insurance Claims

Report the accident to your insurance company as soon as possible.

Provide them with all necessary information, including the police report, medical documentation, and any evidence collected at the scene.

Prompt notification is crucial to avoid any issues with your claim.

You would also want to verify the drunk driver’s insurance coverage.

If they are uninsured or underinsured, your insurance policy may cover some of the losses.

Dealing with insurance companies can be challenging, so having an attorney can help negotiate settlements more effectively.

6. Legal Actions and Compensation

You may be entitled to file a personal injury lawsuit against the drunk driver.

In California, you can claim damages for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other related costs.

Your attorney will guide you through the process, ensuring all legal requirements are met.

The drunk driver will likely face criminal charges, which can impact your civil case.

Under California Civil Code 1714, a drunk driver is liable for any injuries or damages caused by their actions.

This law allows victims to recover damages even if the driver was not convicted in criminal court.

With that said, a drunk driver can be held liable for punitive damages, which are intended to punish and deter negligent behavior.

These damages can potentially increase your compensation significantly.

Final Thoughts

Being injured by a drunk driver is a traumatic experience, but taking the right steps can help protect your rights and ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.

Remember to prioritize your safety and health, gather evidence, consult with legal professionals, and take action to hold drunk drivers accountable for their actions.

By following these steps, you can move towards recovering physically, emotionally, and financially from the accident.

Chelsea Wilson

About Chelsea Wilson

Chelsea Wilson is the Community Relations Manager for Washington University School of Law’s distance learning LLM degree program, which provides foreign trained attorneys with the opportunity to earn a Master of Laws degree from a top-tier American university from anywhere in the world.

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