Category Archives: Impaired Driving

Options Injury Victims Have After Being Hit by a Drunk Driver

Drunk driving-related accidents occur at alarming rates, with estimates that approximately two in ten Americans will be involved in such accidents in their lifetimes. 

But perhaps you already know this? Perhaps you or someone you love has already been hit by a drunk driver or was a passenger in an alcohol-related crash? If so, then it’s important to understand what options you or your loved one has post-accident.

You Can Pursue an Insurance Claim

Before you decide whether to file a lawsuit against the drunk driver, you can first start talking about a settlement with the driver’s insurance company. California law requires drivers to carry auto insurance. Contacting the insurer to seek full compensation and informing them that you may be pursuing legal action as well may be just what you need to start getting your medical bills and car repair bills paid. 

In the alternative, if you have personal injury protection (PIP) coverage on your own auto insurance policy, you can file a claim through your own insurance company so you can pay your bills. This route may be easier than working with the drunk driver’s insurer.

You Can Sue the Drunk Driver After the Accident

If you were hurt in a drunk driving-related accident, you have the right to seek financial compensation from the drunk driver in a personal injury lawsuit. Speak to a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer about the types of compensation that may be available to you, such as:

  • Medical bills (physical and psychological)
  • Short or long-term care bills
  • Lost wages
  • Lost earning capacity
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Repair bills for your vehicle
  • Rehabilitation costs
  • Punitive damages to punish the driver and deter future drunk driving

To get compensation for any or all of the above, you must be able to prove that the driver was negligent and that, due to that negligence, you sustained injuries. Negligence under California law simply means failure to use reasonable care when driving. 

But First, Call a Personal Injury Attorney

Before you make any lawsuit decisions and before you speak with anyone’s insurance company, be sure to pick up the phone to call a personal injury attorney who can help you understand your full course of options. 

At the Law Office of Daniel H. Rose, our San Francisco personal injury attorneys will work with you to determine what next step will work best in your situation. We’ll be aggressive in seeking to hold the drunk driver responsible for what they’ve done to you. And, at all times, we’ll be your strong advocate in and out of court. Contact us today at 415-946-8900 to schedule your complimentary consultation.

How Wrongful Death Claims Against Drunk Drivers Work in California

A little over 10 percent of all fatal drunk driving accidents in the US occur right here in California, according to the most recent numbers coming from the National Highway & Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA). That’s over 1,000 people killed each year in our state, all due to drunk drivers.

If you’ve lost someone you love in a drunk driving accident in California, you need to know your options for moving forward. You need the help of a skilled personal injury lawyer to understand how a wrongful death claim would work in your situation.

First, Determine if You Can Bring a Wrongful Death Claim

A civil claim for wrongful death involves an aggrieved party pursuing a lawsuit against the drunk driver in civil court. Before you can file your case, you must first be able to prove that you fall within one of the named categories of parties who are able to bring such claims in California civil courts. 

According to California’s wrongful death statute (California Code of Civil Procedure Section 337.60, et seq.), the following parties may pursue such a claim:

  • The deceased’s surviving spouse
  • The deceased’s surviving domestic partner
  • The deceased’s surviving children
  • Issue of the deceased’s children
  • Absent one of the above, then anyone “who would be entitled to the property of the decedent [deceased] by intestate succession” 

In addition, these individuals may also bring a wrongful death suit:

  • Anyone who was financially dependent on the deceased
  • The deceased’s putative spouse
  • Children of the deceased’s putative spouse
  • The deceased’s parents
  • Stepchildren
  • A minor who lived with the decedent for at least the previous 180 days and was dependent on the decedent for at least one-half of all financial support

If some of this terminology is confusing, rest assured that a skilled personal injury attorney can speak with you to help you determine whether you can bring a wrongful death claim in California civil court.

Next, Determine the Damages You Can Seek 

Assuming you can bring a claim, you will be able to seek damages (financial recovery) for many costs associated with your loss, including:

  • Funeral and related final expenses
  • Medical expenses incurred after the drunk driving accident
  • Lost income, including the deceased’s lost potential income
  • Loss of anticipated financial support
  • Loss of household services
  • Loss of love, companionship, support, affection, comfort and care

Additionally, punitive damages—also known as exemplary damages—arise in wrongful death cases to punish the drunk driver for their behavior. Courts also allow them due to the message they send to the community at large: this behavior is not tolerated and, as such, deserves additional consequences.

Punitive damages are never guaranteed in wrongful death claims against drunk drivers. That is why it’s important to hire an experienced personal injury lawyer to help you layout your case clearly and help you prove all necessary elements of your claim.

Let a Skilled Lawyer Help You With Your Wrongful Death Claim

If you’ve lost a loved one due to a fatal drunk-driving crash within the past two years, speak with an injury attorney about pursuing a wrongful death claim. Your attorney will help you determine what you’ll need to prove, the evidence you’ll need to do so, and how to best prepare you for the coming days and months of discovery and, potentially, trial. 

If you’re in California, consider reaching out to the Law Office of Daniel H. Rose. We’ll sit with you in a complimentary consultation and help you determine if you have a claim to pursue. If you do, we’ll walk alongside you to get you the justice you deserve after losing your loved one. To schedule a consultation, contact us today at 415-946-8900.

Study Shows Hit-And-Run collisions injuries and deaths at highest levels

A recently released AAA study reveals a record amount of hit-and-run injuries and deaths, the majority of which are to bicyclists and pedestrians. This raises a confluence of issues related to a lack of adequate bicycling and pedestrian safety infrastructure, the prevention of DUI driving, public video surveillance, and uninsured motorist coverage.  According to AAA, there were 2,049 hit-and-run related fatalities in the United States in 2016, and 65% of those were bicyclists or pedestrians.  Twenty percent of all pedestrian deaths were hit-and-run related. The reasons that a driver may flee the scene often relate to the fact that many of the drivers are intoxicated with prior DUI records. The study notes that a large percentage of hit-and-run collisions occur in the hours between midnight and 4 a.m. when drivers are more likely to be intoxicated, it is easier to flee the scene due to lighter traffic, and there are fewer witnesses out at that hour.

The Reason NHTSA Released 2016 Traffic Fatality Data but Not 2016 Injury Data

In past years, the NHTSA has released annually an overview of motor vehicle crashes for the prior calendar year which includes both injury and fatality data. However, the NHTSA recently released its overview of 2016 fatality data without including the 2016 non-fatal injury data. I contacted the NHTSA to find out whether the 2016 non-fatal injury data is currently available and if not when it will become available. The response from NHTSA was as follows:

In a nut shell, there is no 2016 injury data at this time. NHTSA’s National Center for Statistics and Analysis (NCSA) redesigned the nationally representative sample of police-reported traffic crashes, which estimates the number of police-reported injury and property–damage-only crashes in the United States. The new system, called the Crash Report Sampling System (CRSS), replaced the National Automotive Sampling System (NASS) General Estimates System (GES) in 2016. However, the 2016 estimates are not currently available. NHTSA is currently processing the file to ensure the data is accurate and complete and is finalizing the new weighting and calibration procedures to produce national estimates. Once completed, NHTSA will release the data and publish the estimated number of police-reported injury and property-damage-only crashes that occurred during 2016.