As we approach the winter season in Southern California, it’s important to recognize that holiday parties may contribute to a rise in the number of intoxicated drivers traveling along our roadways. Holiday celebrations often involve alcohol or other intoxicants, and people may climb behind the wheel with the mistaken idea that they can operate their cars safely. If you have suffered a car accident injury and you suspect that the other driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the incident, you have the right to pursue compensation to help you cover the medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses associated with your injuries. In addition to seeking compensation from insurance carriers, you may also file a civil lawsuit against the intoxicated driver to obtain additional damages. As you face a lengthy and overwhelming physical recovery, it’s best to enlist the guidance of a trusted and experienced Riverside County auto accident lawyer to ensure that you maximize your settlement offer. Let’s take a look at how California auto accident victims can move forward with pursuing and securing the compensation they need to support their recovery.
Steps to Take at the Scene of the Accident
The aftermath of a car accident is often overwhelming and chaotic. First, assess yourself and others at the scene for any injuries requiring immediate medical attention. Call an ambulance if emergency care is necessary. You should also contact local law enforcement so the responding officer can compile a police report detailing the factors involved in the incident, such as witness statements, driver contact information, and any other relevant information. The responding officer can also assess the other driver to determine whether they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Even if your injuries do not warrant immediate medical attention, you should still schedule a visit with your doctor within the next day or so to check for any harder-to-detect injuries, such as concussions or internal bleeding. Your doctor’s medical documentation will be useful in building a solid auto accident claim, as it will detail the nature and extent of the injuries you suffered due to the negligent driver. It’s also beneficial to contact a trusted auto accident lawyer as soon as possible to ensure you can start the process of seeking the compensation you deserve.
Insurance Claims and DUI Drivers
Most people start the auto accident claims process by turning to insurance companies. Most California auto insurance policies offer compensatory damages to policyholders injured by drunk or intoxicated drivers. Settlements to cover medical costs, lost wages, or other expenses can usually be recovered under the at-fault driver’s third-party liability insurance or your own uninsured/underinsured motorist policy. The process of filing a claim with an insurance company can be frustrating, as insurance adjusters will attempt to pay you as little as possible to protect the company’s bottom line. Instead of wasting your precious time and energy negotiating with stubborn insurance adjusters, consider allowing your auto accident attorney to step in and advocate on your behalf. Your lawyer understands the negotiating and bargaining tactics the insurance adjusters use, and you can trust that your attorney will work hard to secure you the most favorable settlement offer possible.
Pursuing a Civil Claim Against a Drunk Driver
Accidents involving drunk or intoxicated drivers often lead to severe injuries that require considerable medical interventions (i.e., surgery, hospital stays, physical therapy, etc.), so a settlement offer from the insurance carrier may cover only a fraction of your total costs. However, you have the option to file a civil lawsuit against the at-fault party to obtain additional compensation to support your recovery. Essentially, you and your attorney must prove that the other party acted negligently and that their negligence caused you to suffer injury. Operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol constitutes negligence, so you can use toxicology results and police reports to show that the other driver was acting negligently. It’s important to note that you may file a civil lawsuit against the driver even if they have not faced criminal charges or consequences for driving while intoxicated. Unlike in a criminal trial, wherein prosecutors must establish the defendant’s guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt,” civil liability need only be established by a “preponderance of the evidence”—meaning it’s more likely than not that the defendant drove while intoxicated.
Contact a Dedicated Murrieta Auto Accident Lawyer Today
Suffering an injury at the hands of a drunk or negligent driver can derail your life. Suddenly, you must face a long and painful physical recovery in addition to medical bills and other expenses. However, it’s essential that you know you do not have to navigate this stressful situation alone. Reaching out to a trusted and compassionate auto accident lawyer is the best way to understand your options and take the necessary steps to regain control of your life. Let your attorney advocate passionately and tirelessly on your behalf while you focus on what matters most—your path to recovery.
If you need help pursuing compensation following an auto accident injury in Temecula or Murrieta, call Hales & Associates, A Professional Law Corporation, at (951) 489-3320 to speak with an experienced attorney.