Sacramento DUI Accident Victim Lawyers
- Facts on Drinking and Driving and California DUI and DWI Accidents
- Why Is Drunk Driving So Dangerous?
- Civil vs. Criminal Consequences of Drunk Driving in California
- What Is Considered Drunk Driving in California?
- Criminal Penalties for Drunk Driving in California
- Administrative Consequences of Drunk Driving in California
- Civil Consequences of Drunk Driving in California
- How Do I Prove Civil Liability in a Drunk Driving Case?
- How Do California Dram Shop Laws Affect My DUI Civil Lawsuit?
- Report the Accident to the Required Agencies
- How Long Do I Have to File My DUI Accident Civil Lawsuit?
- What Damages Are Available in a Civil Lawsuit?
- What Is the Average Settlement Amount in Civil DUI Accident Cases?
- How Can a DUI Traffic Accident Attorney Help Me?
- How Much Does a DUI Accident Attorney Cost?
- Information About Victim Support and How Drunk Driving Affects the Community
- More Information About Filing a Civil Lawsuit for a DUI Accident?
Powerful Law Firm Defending the Injured in Sacramento DUI Accidents
Sacramento is the capital city of California. As the capital, Sacramento serves as the location of the California State Legislature and the political center and hub of the state. According to the 2020 census, Sacramento has a population of 524,943 people, making it the largest city in California. Sacramento continues to grow, and with that growth comes more drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians sharing the road.
Traffic accidents occur daily on the streets and highways of Sacramento. Unfortunately, drunk driving accidents also frequently occur, leaving even more carnage. Thousands of people are killed across the city and state because drivers get behind the wheel of a car after drinking too much.
Driving under the influence (DUI) and driving while intoxicated (DWI) are criminal offenses. If a driver is found guilty of a DUI or DWI in California, they can face jail time, fines, and other criminal punishments. Although you may be familiar with the criminal penalties of driving under the influence of alcohol in California, you should also know about your right to civil recovery for your losses after a DUI accident.
The attorneys at Arash Law, founded by Arash Khorsandi, Esq., are the people to call if you have been victimized by a drunk driver. We are committed to helping accident victims get the relief they need and making California a safer place by reducing the number of drunk driving accidents by holding drivers accountable for their actions. Call the Sacramento DUI accident victim lawyers at (888) 488-1391 today.
A farm worker, suffered multiple broken bones and other orthopedic injuries resulting from an auto accident where the defendant driver attempted to make a left turn in front of our client in heavy fog.– ARASH KHORSANDI
Facts on Drinking and Driving and California DUI and DWI Accidents
Although ridesharing and other programs are widely available to get people home safely after a night out, many people choose to drive after drinking too much. Traffic accidents are already dangerous and can leave individuals and families physically and financially devastated, but drunk driving accidents have greater potential for devastation. Drinking and driving accidents are common in California. The following are facts about drinking and driving across the United States and in California in particular.
- In 2020, 11,654 people across the United States died in traffic accidents involving drunk drivers.
- 30 percent of all traffic accident-related deaths across the country involved a drunk driver.
- 62 percent of people who died in drunk driving accidents were impaired, and 38 percent were other drivers, passengers, or pedestrians.
- In 2020, 229 children under the age of 14 were killed in traffic crashes involving drunk drivers across the country.
- Car crashes are the leading cause of death among teenagers and teenage drivers, and one-third of accidents involving teenagers are alcohol-related.
- 32 people lose their lives across the United States because of drunk drivers each day.
- One person dies every 45 minutes in an accident caused by an impaired driver across the country.
- An estimated 10,839 people will lose their lives in a drunk driving accident this year.
- 1.9 percent of American drivers admit to driving under the influence.
- 1.8 percent of Californians admit to getting behind the wheel after having too much to drink.
- More than 10,000 Californians lost their lives in drunk driving crashes from 2003 to 2012.
Why Is Drunk Driving So Dangerous?
Driving under the influence of alcohol is dangerous. It affects many different groups of people, including drivers, passengers, and pedestrians. Impaired driving is more dangerous than other traffic accidents because drunk drivers have slowed reaction times, lowered inhibitions, and decreased judgment. This combination of factors can lead to catastrophic property damage and loss of life. Because of the massive losses drunk drivers cause, they face criminal and civil consequences for their actions.
Civil vs. Criminal Consequences of Drunk Driving in California
What Is Considered Drunk Driving in California?
California law defines drunk driving as alcohol-related driving behavior. California laws against drunk driving are some of the strictest in the nation. California Vehicle Code section 23152 describes the Blood Alcohol Concentration limits based on the age of the driver. Any driver operating a vehicle with a BAC of 0.08 percent or more is guilty of driving under the influence.
California law uses age to determine when someone is liable for drunk driving. Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) limits depend on the driver’s age:
- Drivers under 21 cannot operate a vehicle with a BAC of 0.01 percent or higher.
- California law has a zero-tolerance policy for drivers under the age of 21 operating a vehicle with any alcohol in their system.
- Drivers aged 21 and older cannot operate a vehicle with a BAC of 0.08 percent or higher.
- Drivers operating a commercial vehicle (including Uber, Lyft, and other ridesharing arrangements) cannot drive their car while working with a BAC of 0.04 or more.
Criminal Penalties for Drunk Driving in California
If a driver chooses to operate a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, they face criminal penalties. A drunk driver in Sacramento can expect the following consequences:
- Up to one year in jail or 16 months in state prison
- Thousands of dollars in fines
- An automatic four-month suspension of their driver’s license
Administrative Consequences of Drunk Driving in California
In addition to the criminal penalties a drunk driver may face, if a driver is convicted of DUI, the driver may also face administrative action by the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). The DMV may impose the following consequences on a driver convicted of DUI:
- Suspend the driver’s license for at least six months
- Require the driver to complete a mandatory DUI class
- Order that the DUI conviction remains on the driver’s record for ten years
What Is Admin Per Se?
Driving is a privilege. By obtaining a California license, you agree that if you get stopped on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol, you consent to a breath, blood, or urine test for intoxicants in your system. You will automatically lose your license if you refuse to comply with the rules of administration per se.
Civil Consequences of Drunk Driving in California
The impaired driver will likely face criminal responsibility for their actions, but them sitting in jail or facing fines and probation does not address your losses. Car accidents are not only physically and mentally taxing, but they are also expensive. One driver’s actions can cost you and your family thousands of dollars. Fortunately, California law requires drunk drivers to pay for the injuries or losses victims face if they cause an accident. Accident victims can force impaired drivers to face civil responsibility for their actions through a personal injury lawsuit.
Civil lawsuits are a tool to help accident victims ease the financial burden created by a traffic crash. After getting into a DUI accident, you may need extensive treatment, long-term medical care, or multiple surgeries to recover fully. That can quickly get very expensive, especially if you cannot work due to your injuries. If you get into an accident with a drunk driver, you may face even more significant harm. Drunk drivers lose their inhibitions and ability to control their vehicles. When the car comes to a stop, the impact can be life-changing.
Although civil lawsuits are a good tool to help you recoup money for treatment and lost income, these lawsuits can get complicated. Victims of DUI traffic accidents should consult an experienced Sacramento DUI accident lawyer to discuss their legal rights and options as soon as possible after a collision.
How Is a Civil DUI Lawsuit Different from Other Car Crash Cases?
The biggest difference between a typical personal injury lawsuit and a traffic crash lawsuit that involves a DUI is that the latter involves a simultaneous criminal case. Plaintiffs in a civil DUI case can use evidence presented at the criminal trial in their case, but the outcome of the criminal case does not affect the outcome of the civil trial.
A DUI accident case can get more complicated than other personal injury cases because the defendant may spend an extended period in jail if they are convicted of their criminal charges. The defendant’s incarceration may make the case take longer to settle or set for trial. Fortunately, with the help of an experienced attorney, you can avoid the confusion of trying to navigate both the criminal and civil legal systems.
How Do I Prove Civil Liability in a Drunk Driving Case?
One of the first hurdles to overcome in a civil lawsuit is finding each potentially liable party and holding them accountable for their actions. When a drunk driver causes a traffic accident, it can be nearly impossible for an unrepresented person to find everyone responsible for their injuries and losses. Accident victims who are represented by counsel tend to have a better chance of receiving compensation after an accident.
Proving fault after a DUI accident starts with collecting evidence. Civil lawsuits are won based on the facts of the case. A good place to start collecting evidence of the facts of the case is to begin with the following:
- Obtaining a copy of the police report from the day or night of the accident helps you get a list of eyewitnesses and gives you an idea of the officers’ thoughts regarding causation and liability.
- Learn the BAC level of the driver. Driving drunk is always negligent. Proving that the driver was under the influence when the accident happened will strengthen your chances of a successful outcome.
- Learning about the driver’s history can also be beneficial. Your accident attorney may want to know about past driving offenses.
- Gather any evidence of prior DUI convictions.
Potentially Responsible Parties?
There are many potentially responsible parties in a DUI accident, and they may include people or businesses that were not on the road at the time you were hit. A Sacramento DUI accident attorney can help you find every responsible party and hold insurance companies accountable for paying for your injuries.
Examples of potentially responsible parties in a DUI traffic accident include:
- The impaired driver
- A social host
- A bar or restaurant owner or staff member
How Do California Dram Shop Laws Affect My DUI Civil Lawsuit?
Dram shop laws apply to social hosts and bar or restaurant owners or staff. These people or entities may face civil penalties if they overserved a driver and the impaired driver caused an accident.
A social host may have liability for causing a DUI traffic accident under California law. A social host is a party host and can be a family member or a friend that overserved the driver. A social host may face liability if they served alcohol at their gathering and knew the driver was intoxicated but continued to provide alcohol or encouraged the driver to continue drinking.
Bars and restaurants may also face liability. According to the legal doctrine of vicarious liability, an employer is responsible for the negligent acts of their employee. If a bar owner’s employee overserves a patron, the owner and employee may each face liability if their patron causes an accident.
To sue these parties or another third party in a DUI accident lawsuit, the following must be proven:
- An adult supplied alcohol to a minor.
- A business sold or supplied alcohol to a minor who was obviously intoxicated.
- The alcohol given to the minor was the cause of the accident.
Proving third-party dram shop claims is difficult. California dram shop laws are severely limited. If you suspect that a third party may share liability for your injuries and losses, discuss that with your Sacramento DUI accident victim lawyer. By not attempting to collect damages from every person who may share liability, you may be leaving money on the table that can go towards your injuries and other losses.
What Should an Accident Victim Do After Getting into a DUI Accident?
The steps you take immediately after getting into a DUI crash are the best way to ensure you get the compensation you deserve. Being in a traffic crash is terrifying, especially one that involves a drunk driver. It can be challenging to know what to do next after getting into an accident. Here are some tips to help preserve evidence and position yourself for a successful outcome for your civil case:
Get Medical Attention Immediately
You should get medical attention immediately after a DUI accident. First and foremost, you should get medical care quickly after getting into a traffic crash because it can save your life. The impact of a traffic collision can cause significant physical injuries. Some injuries do not manifest without a physical examination. For example, you may have suffered a traumatic brain injury, but you cannot confirm that without seeing a doctor.
Secondly, you should get immediate medical attention after a crash because it will help your civil case. A plaintiff must prove negligence to win a civil lawsuit. Causation is one element of a negligence claim. When you get medical treatment immediately after an accident, you can connect your injuries to the accident. Delay in getting medical care gives insurance companies and defense lawyers room to argue that something else caused your harm.
Car accidents are serious and can lead to serious and permanent injuries. Some injuries are not visible and require medical attention so that they are caught. Without immediate medical attention, internal injuries may not be known until it is too late.
An example of internal injuries is internal bleeding. There is no way to determine if you are bleeding internally on your own. You must go to the hospital. Internal bleeding can start from any place inside the body. Internal bleeding is dangerous and can lead to death. You will likely need surgery to fix internal bleeding.
Even if the hospital catches internal bleeding in time to save your life, you may still suffer damage to your organs, leading to infection and organ failure. It is important to get medical attention right away after a car accident.
The effects of back injuries can stay with you for life. They may require major treatment. You may need surgery, visits to the chiropractors, or physical therapy to treat your injuries. Time is a factor when it comes to any injury after a car accident. To recover for any injury, you will need to show an insurance company or a court that the harm you suffered is related to the accident.
Call an Accident Attorney Experienced in Defending DUI Victims
Getting an accident attorney right away helps protect your legal rights after an accident. You will likely get flooded with phone calls, letters, emails, and other correspondence after your accident. It is important to have an experienced Sacramento DUI accident victim lawyer on your side to avoid saying anything that may negatively affect the outcome of your case. The other driver’s insurance company may ask for a written or recorded statement giving your side of what happened. These statements seem innocent enough but remember that the other driver’s insurance company does not work for you. They are concerned about protecting their bottom line by avoiding paying out insurance claims.
Report the Accident to the Required Agencies
California law requires people involved in a car accident to report the accident to the police and the California Department of Motor Vehicles. If the accident involves property damage, injury, or death, the California Vehicle Code sections 20000-20018 requires each party to report the accident to the police or the California Highway Patrol within 24 hours. The drivers have ten days to report the accident to the California DMV.
How Long Do I Have to File My DUI Accident Civil Lawsuit?
You should remember the statute of limitations if you intend to file a civil lawsuit after a DUI accident. The statute of limitations is the deadline provided by law that requires an accident victim to settle a claim or file a lawsuit within a specified period, or they will lose their right to sue. California Code of Civil Procedure section 335.1 states that a plaintiff has two years from when the accident happened to file a personal injury lawsuit and three years from the date the victim died in wrongful death claims. If you have a claim for loss of personal property, California law gives you three years to file a lawsuit to recover damages.
What Damages Are Available in a Civil Lawsuit?
The purpose of a civil lawsuit is to compensate the victim for the harm they suffered after a traffic crash. There are three major categories of damages available in a civil lawsuit. The categories of damages include economic damages, non-economic damages, and punitive damages.
That is where an attorney comes in. Hiring an accident attorney takes the pressure of complex litigation off your shoulders and places it with the professionals. Our award-winning Sacramento DUI accident victim lawyers have decades of experience holding people and companies accountable for their negligence. Here are some examples of potentially liable defendants in car crash cases.
Economic damages are compensatory damages and refer to replacing physical losses. Examples of economic damages include:
- Medical bills
- The cost of future medical care and long-term care
- Property loss
- Lost income
- Lost earning capacity
- The cost of hiring domestic help if you need help cooking, cleaning, or taking care of your personal hygiene
- Childcare cost
- Pet care cost
- Loss of consortium or companionship
Non-economic damages are intangible losses that are usually hard to value and harder to prove. Examples of non-economic damages include:
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Mental and emotional trauma
- Temporary or permanent disability
Punitive damages are available in limited circumstances. To receive punitive damages, a plaintiff must prove that they are a victim of a criminal act or an accident that was the result of oppression, fraud, or malice by clear and convincing evidence. The clear and convincing standard is a burden of proof in civil lawsuits that requires the plaintiff to prove that the most probable explanation for their harm is the defendant’s actions. The clear and convincing evidence standard is lower than the beyond-a-reasonable-doubt burden of proof.
Settlement in a motor vehicle accident; client suffered internal injuries.– JUDD ROSS ALLEN
What Is the Average Settlement Amount in Civil DUI Accident Cases?
Every accident is different, so there is no guarantee regarding the amount you will receive in compensation. No attorney will or can give you a guarantee that your case is worth a specific amount of money. However, an experienced attorney can help you understand what your case is worth generally.
Traffic crashes that involve a drunk driver are typically more severe and lead to more serious injuries and sometimes death. The severity of injuries is a factor that influences the value of your DUI accident claim. The following increases the overall value of your claim and your odds of recovering money after an accident.
Are Your Injuries Temporary or Permanent?
Did You Lose the Ability to Earn Money?
Was Your Mental Health Negatively Impacted?
Are Punitive Damages Available?
What Are the California Insurance Limits?
California law requires that every driver have a minimum amount of insurance coverage before they hit the road. However, despite this requirement, it is not uncommon for people to drive without insurance. The California Department of Insurance set the minimum amount of insurance coverage for drivers:
- Drivers must carry a minimum insurance amount of $15,000 to cover an accident that causes the death or injury of another person.
- Drivers must carry a minimum insurance amount of $30,000 to cover an accident that causes the death or injury of multiple people.
- Drivers must carry a minimum insurance amount of $5,000 to cover property damage.
If the driver that hits you does not have the above insurance amounts, recovering your losses can be difficult. A Sacramento DUI accident victim lawyer can help you pursue a claim against your uninsured or underinsured policy so you can fully recover for your injuries.
How Does an Accident Victim Receive Compensation?
The sources of recovery after a DUI accident vary based on the case. Sources of recovery for accident victims include:
- The other driver’s insurance company
- Your uninsured or underinsured insurance policies
- The driver’s employer’s insurance policy if the driver was working for the company when they caused the accident
- Ridesharing company’s insurance if you were in an accident while riding in an Uber or a Lyft
- The insurance policy of a social host, bar, or restaurant
Can I Recover If I Am Partially at Fault for the Accident?
What Happens If a Loved One Dies in a DUI Accident?
If you lose a loved one in a DUI accident, you may have the right to sue for wrongful death. A wrongful death claim is a civil lawsuit that allows certain family members to sue and recover damages if their loved one dies in a car crash. Wrongful death laws differ depending on the state.
These laws can get complicated. If you have a wrongful death claim, you should speak to a Sacramento DUI accident victim lawyer experienced in wrongful deaths as soon as possible.
How Can a DUI Traffic Accident Attorney Help Me?
An aggressive Sacramento DUI accident victim lawyer can help you recover the compensation you deserve after suffering injuries from an accident caused by a drunk driver. Your attorney will use their experience, knowledge, and resources to help you fully recover. The following are some ways your attorney can help you recover.
Speak to Third Parties on Your Behalf
Your Sacramento personal injury attorney is your representative and advocate. A part of their job is to ensure you can recover in peace. Your attorney will handle correspondence from the insurance company, defense attorneys, and collection agencies so you can recover peacefully.
Negotiate a Settlement with the Insurance Company
Many personal injury lawsuits are resolved with a settlement between the accident victim and the insurance company. Insurance companies use many tactics to avoid paying out satisfactory settlements or paying on accident claims at all. One of the tactics many insurance companies use is to speak to a claimant before they are represented by an attorney. A reputable Sacramento DUI accident victim lawyer can help improve your chances of getting a satisfactory settlement offer.
Represent Your Interests at Trial
If you and the insurance company are unable to reach a settlement, your case will proceed to trial. Your attorney will use their knowledge and skill to represent your interests before a jury effectively.
How Much Does a DUI Accident Attorney Cost?
Many people do not pursue compensation because they believe they cannot afford a lawyer. Civil litigators typically use a contingency fee payment structure for DUI car crash cases. A contingency fee is a payment arrangement that allows a client to defer payment for legal services until after the case is settled, and there is no obligation to pay if there is no settlement. With the use of contingency fee arrangements, more accident victims can pursue the compensation they deserve.
Arash Law Safe and Sober Program
The attorneys at Arash Law, led by Arash Khorsandi, Esq., are dedicated to ending drunk driving and making the streets of Sacramento safer. To help accomplish this goal, we have established the Safe and Sober Program. The Safe and Sober Program provides free cab rides for Californians after a night out. In addition to the rise in the use of ridesharing, the Safe and Sober Program acts as an alternative to driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
The Safe and Sober Program wants to spread awareness of the dangers of impaired driving. In addition to raising awareness, the Safe and Sober Program wants to encourage people to make better choices when celebrating traditionally high alcohol consumption holidays.
Where Can I Get More Information About Victim Support and How Drunk Driving Affects the Community?
Being informed about the prevalence of drunk driving can help the community avoid countless tragedies in the future. If you have been affected by the action of a drunk driver, having the proper support can help you and your family heal.
In addition to creating the Safe and Sober Program, we also support organizations like Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). For decades, MADD has been spreading awareness about the personal tragedies that impaired driving causes. MADD provides information and access to support groups of survivors that have lost loved ones in drunk driving accidents. Visit www.madd.org to learn more.
Other organizations with a similar purpose include:
- Students Against Drunk Driving (SADD)
- Advocates Against Impaired Driving (AAID)
Where Can I Find More Information About Filing a Civil Lawsuit for a DUI Accident?
If you have a DUI accident claim, you can learn more about how to file a lawsuit by contacting the attorneys at Arash Law. Under the leadership of Arash Khorsandi, Esq., the legal team at Arash Law is dedicated to ending drunk driving and saving Californians from suffering the effects of drunk driving accidents. As a part of this mission, our attorneys work to help accident victims get the money they need to recover from their injuries and losses after getting into a DUI accident.
Our Sacramento DUI accident lawyers serve the people of the city and surrounding areas, including Roseville, Orangeville, Citrus Heights, Elk Grove, Davis, Fair Oaks, Foothill Farms, Rancho Cordova, North Highlands, Carmichael, Rio Linda, La Riviera, Florin, Rosemont, and West Sacramento.
Contact us today at (888) 488-1391 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss your legal rights and obligations after a DUI accident.