Recovering Compensation for Personal Injuries From a Drunk Driver

Have you or a loved one been injured as a result of another person’s decision to get behind the wheel after drinking too much alcohol? May, for all its beauty, is also a time of danger. With millions of young people celebrating graduation, whether from secondary school, college, or beyond, alcohol will inevitably be consumed. All too often, when alcohol is consumed in the context of celebration, it is consumed to the point of excess. Excessive alcohol consumption leads to drunkenness, and when this state of impaired mental faculties is combined with the poor and dangerous decision to get behind the wheel of a car, truck, or other vehicle, tragedy can ensue. This grave possibility lingers around every graduation celebration in which alcohol is involved – and especially those in more remote areas in which there is no access to public transportation, taxis, Uber, or Lyft.

If this dark possibility has become a reality and resulted in an accident in which you or a loved one were injured by a drunk driver, contact a skilled and experienced California personal injury attorney. An experienced attorney will hold the at-fault driver responsible for his or her dangerously selfish decision-making, and seek the full compensation you are entitled to for your injuries, medical and auto repair bills, pain and suffering, and other losses.

Damages Awarded in a Personal Injury Suit Against a Drunk Driver

When a person chooses to get behind the wheel of an automobile while under the influence of alcohol, he or she has acted negligently. Negligence is a legal doctrine. Specifically, negligence is a breach of a duty of care owed to another person that results in damages. Driving under the influence (DUI) is a breach of the duty of safe driving. Alcohol impairs the mental faculties, slows reaction times, and can lead to speeding, swerving, and even passing out at the wheel.  This brings us to damages, the final aspect of establishing negligence. It is the element of causation – of linking the breach of the duty of safe driving – to the personal injuries you have suffered that completes the tort of negligence. This linking is what justifies imposing legal and financial liability on the at-fault driver.  It is about justice – about holding the at-fault party responsible for the harm suffered by the innocent party.  

While court imposed liability cannot, unfortunately, “unbreak” your bones, it can provide financial restitution. Specifically, in a personal injury lawsuit against a drunk driver, you may seek compensation for your injuries, medical bills, car repair bills, lost income due to missed work, pain and suffering, and other losses. Finally, if you were not injured, but instead tragically lost a loved in an accident caused by a drunk driver, you may be able to bring a wrongful death lawsuit against the at-fault driver. To discuss the specifics of your situation, contact a skilled and experienced California personal injury attorney. A dedicated attorney will fight to obtain the full compensation to which you are entitled.  

Wrong-Way Car Crashes Often Prove Deadly

Fatal wrong-way car crashes are some of the worst occurrences on our nation’s roads. This is because a wrong-way car crash can do so much devastation, and involve persons, property, and both state and private businesses and institutions. Take, for example, a recent wrong-way car crash that killed five people in Ohio. There, it is suspected that the driver had been drinking and driving in the wrong direction before causing an interstate crash. The driver died in the collision, as did four people in the SUV that the driver’s vehicle slammed into.

There are multiple twists to this story.  First, the driver had been arrested the day before for the drinking and driving offense of “operating a vehicle without reasonable control” after his car collided with a parked car. This fact raises questions as to why the authorities allowed the man to even be in a position to drive again so soon after the arrest. Second, there is the wrong-way aspect of the crash. Were directional signs on Ohio’s freeways not sufficiently large and visible? The fact that 10 other fatal wrong-way crashes occurred in Ohio in 2014 may suggest that off-ramp/on-ramp signs are ineffective or defective in some way.

Here, in California, there has been a spate of fatal wrong-way car crashes, as well. The fact that Caltrans – the state agency in charge of highway, bridge, and rail transportation, planning, construction, and maintenance – has been making recent efforts to improve on-ramp/off-ramp signs suggests a relationship between the quality of the signs and the occurrence of wrong-way crashes. Still, in the Ohio case, it is hard to know whether the accident was purely the result of drinking and driving or of a number of factors, including inadequate signage. For both survivors and for loved ones of those killed in the accident, many questions – some factual, and some legal – remain. If you have been involved in a wrong-way crash, or lost a loved one to a wrong-way car crash here in California, contact an experienced California personal injury and wrongful death attorney.

Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Lawsuits Seek Damages in the Form of Financial Compensation

If you have been injured in a wrong-way car crash as a result of the carelessness, recklessness, or intentionally harmful driving of another, you can bring a personal injury lawsuit against the responsible party for damages. Damages include the cost of past, present, and future medical treatment, lost income due to missed work, pain and suffering, and more. If you have lost a loved one in a wrong-way car crash as the result of another’s careless, reckless, or intentionally bad driving, you may be able to bring a wrongful death lawsuit against the party responsible. In a wrongful death lawsuit, as an eligible survivor, you essentially step into the shoes of the deceased – seeking the damages they would have been entitled to seek had the survived the crash. In either case, contact a skilled and experienced California personal injury and wrongful death attorney today.

When Road Rage Results in Personal Injuries

We all know driving can be frustrating at times. Traffic jams, delays, and detours are but a few of the unpleasant realities of the road that can increase stress. This is especially the case when one is trying to arrive at a destination on time, such as the workplace, airport, or hospital. These stressors are coupled with the fact that the inside of one’s vehicle represents something of a sacred space within culture – a place where one is free to sing along with the radio, talk to oneself, scream, cry – any number of things so long as one does not disobey the many important rules and regulations of the road. When the emotions one is feeling within the confines of their vehicle cause one to drive in a careless, reckless, or intentionally harmful manner, a line has been crossed.

The term used to describe this angry driving scenario is “road rage.” It is a serious problem on America’s roads, highways, and byways, resulting in accidents, personal injuries, and even fatalities. Such was the tragic case in San Diego this month when a community activist was struck and killed by a road rage driver while doing community service. The victim, a 69-year old woman, was painting over graffiti in San Diego’s Mission Beach neighborhood as a gesture of kindness to beautify the community when she was hit by a 23-year old male driver. The driver made a cowardly attempt to flee the scene, but was arrested and charged with vehicular manslaughter, DUI, and hit and run – all serious felony charges that will result in jail time if the man is convicted. While nothing can bring the community activist back, there are actions her surviving loved ones can take with the help of a skilled and experienced San Diego personal injury and wrongful death attorney.

A Wrongful Death Lawsuit is Available to Loved Ones of a Wrongfully Killed Person

The state of California will prosecute the 23-year old man in the criminal courts with regard to the vehicular manslaughter, DUI, and hit and run charges. Punishment and rehabilitation are the domains of the criminal courts. But how does that help the victim and her surviving loved ones?  A conviction can bring a sense of justice, of course, but that does not help with the cost of medical treatment following injuries, funeral, and burial expenses, loss of income, and loss of love and affection.

In the civil courts of California, certain surviving loved ones of the victim of a wrongful death can bring a wrongful death lawsuit against the party responsible for the wrongful death. As with a personal injury lawsuit, a wrongful death lawsuit is a suit for damages in the form of financial compensation. If you have lost a loved one to the careless, reckless, or intentionally wrongful conduct of another, contact a skilled and experienced California wrongful death attorney about your legal options today.

Bringing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in the State of California

Nothing hurts more than losing a loved one long before their time as the result of another person’s carelessness, recklessness, or intentionally wrongful act. First, there is the shock, grief, and sense of the loss one experiences. Then, there may be fears over the loss of financial support provided by the loved one. Finally, there is the deep need for justice. California’s Wrongful Death laws exist to make the pursuit of justice possible and to help the survivors of the deceased seek financial compensation for the support they were deprived of by a senseless act of carelessness, recklessness, or intentional wrongdoing. If your loved one has suffered a wrongful death, contact a dedicated and experienced California wrongful death attorney.  Nothing can undo the loss you have experienced, but a wrongful death lawsuit can greatly aid your plight as a survivor.

The California Code of Civil Procedure Governs California Wrongful Death Lawsuits

California’s wrongful death law is California Code of Civil Procedure 337.60, et seq. It specifies what constitutes a wrongful death in the state, which survivors may file a wrongful death claim, and what damages are available to survivors through a wrongful death claim. Under the statute, a wrongful death occurs when a person is fatally injured as the result of the negligence or wrongful act of another person, corporation, institution, or entity. Negligence encompasses both carelessness and recklessness. Specifically, negligence is a breach of a duty of care owed that results in damages.

For example, we all owe duties of safe driving in accordance with the rules and regulations of the road to one another. If another person drives drunk and causes a fatal car crash, the fatality is considered a wrongful death under California’s wrongful death law. From this wrongful death arises a wrongful death legal claim. Only certain “survivors” of the deceased may rightfully bring the wrongful death claim. Eligible survivors include the surviving spouse, domestic partner, and children. If there is no surviving spouse, domestic partner, or child to bring the claim, the state allows for a wrongful death claim to be brought by anyone who would be entitled to inherit the property of the deceased through the process of intestate succession. In other words, if the deceased died without a spouse, partner, or children, and without a valid will, parents and other relatives may be eligible to bring a wrongful death claim.

Types of Damages Available to Survivors Under a Wrongful Death Claim

A California wrongful death claim makes available to survivors a number of damages, including lost income, loss of anticipated financial support, funeral and burial expenses, and other losses. If you have lost a loved one to a wrongful death in the state of California, contact an experienced California wrongful death attorney. Time is of the essence, as the state imposes a two-year statute of limitation from the date of death on the filing of a valid wrongful death claim .

Defending Against a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in the State of California

If you have lost a loved one as a result of the carelessness or recklessness of another person, business, or institution, you may be able to bring a wrongful death lawsuit in a California civil court against the responsible party.  The purpose of this article is to explain what a wrongful death is, who may bring a wrongful death claim in the state of California, and what damages are available to wrongful death victims.

In California, a death is considered “wrongful” when it occurs as the result of the negligence, recklessness, or intentionally wrongful conduct of another individual, business, institution, or other entity. Negligence, the most common basis for a wrongful death suit, is a legal doctrine.  Under the doctrine, negligence occurs when a breach of a duty of care owed to another person causes damages.

We owe and are owed a vast array of duties of care. There is the duty of safe driving on California’s streets and highways, for example. There is also the duty of businesses and construction contractors to keep their premises and sites safe, whether by performing routine cleaning and inspection or by posting adequate notice of hazardous conditions. When one of these duties is breached and damages result, negligence has occurred. Returning to the duty of safe driving, an all too common and sometimes tragic examples of breaches include distracted driving (e.g. texting while driving) and drunk driving. When one of these breaches causes a traffic accident, negligence has occurred. In most cases, the victim – the individual who has suffered harm to his or her person or property – can bring a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party to recover compensation for the damages suffered. However, in cases where the breach and accident is so severe as to result in a fatality, only a wrongful death lawsuit may be brought.

A wrongful death claim is a “survival” claim. In other words, the claim against the at-fault party “survives” the death of victim. Not everyone may bring a wrongful death claim; in California, only the following people may bring the claim over the loss of a loved one:

  • The deceased individual’s surviving spouse;
  • The deceased individual’s domestic partner;
  • The deceased person’s surviving children;
  • The deceased individual’s financially dependent would-be spouse;
  • The deceased individual’s financially dependent stepchildren;
  • The deceased individual’s financially dependent parents.

Only these parties may bring a wrongful death claim for damages. Damages include the funeral and burial expenses of the deceased, medical and hospital expenses incurred prior to death, lost income including with present and future income, the value of domestic services, and even loss of love, affection, emotional support, and guidance. If you have lost a loved one due to the negligence or wrongful conduct of another, reach out to a dedicated and experienced California wrongful death attorney. A dedicated attorney will review the specifics of your case, explain your legal options, and work to obtain the compensation you need and deserve for your loss.

Help for Wrongful Death Victims in California

A personal injury suffered because of the carelessness, recklessness, or intentionally wrongful act of another can upend one’s life for an extended period of time. The wrongful death of a loved one under such circumstances changes one’s life forever. While nothing can ever bring back your loved one, California’s wrongful death statute provides a means of seeking compensation from the individual, corporation, or institution responsible.

Understanding How California Defines a “Wrongful Death”

In the state of California, a “wrongful death” is a death that is caused by the wrongful act or neglect of another person. In understanding a legal definition, every word matters. By wrongful act, the law means an intentional act – meaning that the action was commenced with at least a basal level of purpose, as opposed to by accident. Neglect is a slightly more broad category; it typically encompasses both negligence and recklessness. Negligence is the breach of duty of care owed that results in damages, and recklessness usually amounts to failing to act like a reasonably prudent person under the circumstances.  If any one of these categories – intentionally wrongful conduct, negligent conduct, reckless conduct – causes the death of another person, a wrongful death claim exists.

Common Circumstances in Which a Wrongful Death May Occur

The circumstances in which a wrongful death may occur are similar to those in which personal injury actions arise. Examples include car accidents, bike accidents, construction site injuries, and slip and fall accidents. What makes the action wrongful death instead of personal injury is the occurrence of a death.  Importantly, the death need not occur at the moment of wrongful conduct, negligence, or recklessness; an injury suffered that later results in death (while in the hospital, for example) may still create a wrongful death action.

Who is Eligible to Bring a Wrongful Death Action

Just as California law governs what constitutes a wrongful death, it controls what persons may bring a wrongful death lawsuit for damages. Obviously, the individual who has suffered the wrongful death cannot bring suit (because he or she is no longer living). Instead, the wrongful death cause of action is said to “survive” the deceased. Under state law, individuals who may bring the surviving action include the decedent’s surviving spouse, domestic partner, or children. “Deceased” and “decedent” are simply legal terms for the individual who is no longer living.

Damages Available in a California Wrongful Death Claim

In a wrongful death claim, damages are measured in terms of financial compensation. In this context, they are meant to compensate surviving family members for the losses they have suffered as a result of the wrongful death. Again, nothing can make up for the loss of companionship of a loved one, but wrongful death damages can account for such things as funeral and burial expenses, medical bills, lost income and financial support, and the value of domestic services. Critically, a wrongful death lawsuit must be filed within two (2) years of the date of death, so it is imperative that individuals surviving the death of a loved one contact an experienced California wrongful death attorney as soon as possible.

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