When a drunk driver causes an accident, you could sustain injuries that could become life-long disabilities. You could face lost income, medical expenses, and even emotional trauma. The accident could even claim the life of a loved one. A California drunk driving lawyer can fight for your rights and ensure you recover the compensation you deserve.
If you suffered injuries or lost a loved one because of a drunk driving accident, contact a drunk driving lawyer at Galine, Frye, Fitting & Frangos for your free case evaluation.
- Why Choose Galine, Frye, Fitting & Frangos
- How Can You Recover Compensation After a California Drunk Driving Accident?
- California Drunk Driving Statistics
- Types and Causes of Drunk Driving Accidents in California
- Types of Drunk Driving Injuries
- How Do Lawyers Fight Insurance Companies?
- What Can You Do After a California Drunk Driving Accident?
- Contact Our California Drunk Driving Accident Lawyers
Why Choose Galine, Frye, Fitting & Frangos
After a drunk driving accident, you don't want just any personal injury lawyer handling your case. Choose a firm with extensive experience handling drunk driving accident claims and is familiar with local and state drunk driving laws and other aspects, including sobriety tests and blood alcohol concentration levels.
A California drunk driving accident lawyer can ensure your rights are not violated by looking out for your interests, whether settling with an insurance company or litigating your case. Our drunk driving accident lawyers work with you to create a strategy that allows you to recover the compensation you deserve.
For your convenience, Galine, Frye, Fitting & Frangos has offices in San Mateo, just off the J. Archer Younger Freeway on Borel Avenue; Hayward, just off Foothill Boulevard on C Street; and downtown Santa Barbara on State Street, near the FedEx Office Print and Ship Center. We can also meet you or set up a telephone or video case evaluation. Call any one of our offices for a free case evaluation.
How Can You Recover Compensation After a California Drunk Driving Accident?
After a drunk driving accident, you could recover two types of damages: Compensatory and exemplary (punitive) damages. Compensatory damages have two categories: Economic damages and non-economic damages. After a drunk driving accident, most people recover economic damages. However, in most cases, only those who lost a loved one or suffered long-term or permanent injuries can recover non-economic damages.
Sometimes referred to as special damages, economic damages have a monetary value.
Most people recover economic damages, including:
- Doctors' appointments.
- Surgeries and follow-up appointments.
- Prescriptions and prescribed over-the-counter medications.
- Ambulatory aids.
- Medical equipment, such as oxygen tanks.
- Physical therapy appointments.
- Psychological therapy appointments.
- Cognitive therapy appointments.
- Occupational therapy appointments.
- Accessibility accessories for your car, including but not limited to hand controls and wheelchair lifts and ramps.
- Accessibility accessories for your home, including but not limited to handrails, grab bars, wheelchair ramps, and widened doorways.
Many drunk driving accident injuries could keep you out of work for several weeks. You can recover lost wages for the time you could not earn income because of your injuries. Some injuries cause long-term or permanent disabilities. If your doctor believes you will never fully recover from drunk driving accident injuries, you could recover compensation for losing future earning capacity.
Furthermore, if your disabilities prevent you from returning to work full-time or force you to take a position that pays less than your job before the accident, you could still recover the loss of partial future earning capacity.
In all cases, you could recover compensation to compensate for lost earning capacity through the time you normally retire.
You can recover compensation to repair damaged or replace destroyed personal property after a drunk driving accident. The at-fault driver is responsible for your vehicle and anything of value that was damaged or destroyed in the drunk driving accident.
If you lost a loved one in a California drunk driving accident, you could recover:
- Funeral expenses.
- Burial expenses.
- Cremation expenses.
- Certain probate court fees.
- Probate attorney's fees and costs.
Sometimes referred to as general damages, non-economic damages do not have a monetary value.
In most cases, only those who lost a loved one or suffered long-term or permanent disabilities in a California drunk driving accident can recover non-economic damages, including:
- Pain and suffering, including emotional distress.
- Loss of quality of life if you have to make life-long changes, such as taking prescription drugs or using ambulatory aids.
- Loss of consortium if you can no longer have a physical relationship with your spouse.
- Loss of companionship if you can no longer enjoy time with your family or attend family activities and events.
- Loss of use of a body part, such as an arm or a foot.
- Loss of use of a bodily function, such as your eyesight or bladder function.
- Amputation of a digit or limb.
- Inconvenience if you have to hire someone to do the chores you usually do, including but not limited to lawn maintenance, grocery shopping, home repair and maintenance, and house cleaning.
- Excessive scarring or disfigurement.
If you can prove the at-fault driver's actions or inactions were grossly negligent, you could recover punitive damages. Unlike compensatory damages, which the court orders in an attempt to make you whole again, it orders a defendant to pay punitive damages as a punishment for grossly negligent or intentional behavior.
While it's more difficult and takes longer to recover punitive damages – you have to win a ruling for compensatory damages first – it is worth it in certain circumstances, such as fatal drunk driving accidents or when the drunk driver caused catastrophic injuries.
California Drunk Driving Statistics
Over ten years, California saw a 15.8-percent increase in drunk driving fatalities per 100,000 people, whereas the nation saw a 5.7-percent decrease. Also, California has a 28.3-percent increase in drunk driving accident fatalities involving drivers under 21 years of age, while the nation saw a 14.5-percent decrease in Under 21 DUI fatal accidents.
Of the approximate 950 drunk driving fatalities in a year, over 70 drunk drivers had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.15 or higher.
While those who drive under the influence of alcohol face criminal charges, those who suffer injuries due to the drunk driver's actions or inactions can also settle with the driver's insurance company or sue the drunk driver in civil court to recover damages for injuries and other losses. You cannot recover personal damages in criminal court.
Types and Causes of Drunk Driving Accidents in California
Drunk drivers can cause all types of accidents, including head-on wrecks, rear-end crashes, sideswipe accidents, rollover accidents, and even multi-car pile ups.
Drunk drivers cause accidents for many reasons, including:
- Drowsiness and fatigue.
- Impaired vision.
- Lack of depth perception.
- Poor coordination.
- Impaired judgment and decision-making abilities.
- Causing the driver to become overconfident, which causes the driver to take more risks.
- A decline in reaction time.
- Distracted driving.
- Following too closely.
- Driving aggressively or recklessly.
Often, drunk drivers combine several causes, such as speeding and driving recklessly with poor coordination, which makes it easier for the drunk driver to sideswipe you or crash head-on into you.
If the driver's excessive speed causes an accident, it could cause you to suffer catastrophic injuries simply because you may not have enough time to move out of the way, and the drunk driver has delayed reaction times, causing him to keep coming at you instead of correcting.
Types of Drunk Driving Injuries
Injuries you could sustain in a California drunk driving accident include:
- Cuts, scrapes, bruises, bumps, and scratches.
- Strains and sprains.
- Pulled and torn muscles and other soft tissue injuries.
- Simple and compound fractures.
- Crushed bones and other crush injuries.
- Head, neck, and shoulder injuries.
- Face and eye injuries.
- Traumatic brain injuries.
- Internal injuries.
- Road rash.
- Chemical and thermal burns.
- Back and spinal cord injuries.
- Ear injuries, including deafness, if the accident causes an explosion.
In addition to the injuries you could sustain at the accident scene, you may suffer secondary injuries such as infections, especially those with compromised immune systems or immunodeficiency disease. The defendant is responsible for secondary injuries, as you would not have suffered them without the defendant's actions or inactions.
Finally, your accident injuries could exacerbate existing injuries or illnesses. Since you would not have had the extra pain and suffering and medical expenses for the pre-existing conditions, the defendant is responsible for the additional financial losses and pain you will suffer.
How Do Lawyers Fight Insurance Companies?
When trying to recover from drunk driving accident injuries or handling a loved one's final affairs, you don't want the added stress of fighting with the insurance company.
Additionally, insurance companies employ many tactics to deny a claim or offer you a pittance, including:
- Twisting what you say to place the blame on you instead of the at-fault driver.
- Delaying your claim, causing you to miss deadlines.
- Delaying your claim so much that you'll forget about it.
- Telling you that its client is at fault, but "we can only pay this much." This is almost always a lie.
- Ghosting you in the hopes that you will get tired of waiting and forget about your claim.
Insurance companies use these and other tactics so they won't have to pay out, especially for claims worth hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars.
Furthermore, insurance companies know you are hurting for money since you can't work. They'll double down on a low amount, hoping you'll take it. Once you sign a release, you can't go back and collect more money if you find what you accepted doesn't cover your medical expenses, never mind the other losses you deserve.
When you work with a California drunk driving accident firm, the lawyers work hard to ensure you recover the compensation you deserve – not what the insurance company wants to pay.
What Can You Do After a California Drunk Driving Accident?
After a California drunk driving accident, you can take several steps to help your case, including obtaining a copy of your police report and medical records. If you have trouble obtaining this evidence, let your attorney know so the firm can help you obtain this pertinent information.
Keeping a journal also helps your case. As soon as possible, document everything you remember about the accident, when you went to doctors' appointments, and what you discussed. If you are in any type of therapy, document your appointments.
Update your drunk driving accident lawyer at Galine, Frye, Fitting & Frangos with your journal – forward a copy of the new entries every week. While your attorney can't use it in court, it helps create a strategy to help recover a fair and reasonable settlement or win a trial award.
Always keep every doctor's appointment unless it's an emergency. If you don't, the defendant's attorneys will argue that your injuries are not as bad as you claim.
Finally, do not post anything on social media, including information and pictures of the accident. Keep your activities off social media, even if your profile is locked down.
You might be out for an innocent dinner with your family, but the insurance company could troll your profiles and use that to say your injuries are not as bad as you claim – and you never know who on your list of friends might forward the information to defense attorneys.
Contact Our California Drunk Driving Accident Lawyers
When you suffer injuries or lose a loved one in a drunk driving accident, you have every right to have an attorney represent you. We understand that when you're not working, you're already worried about putting food on the table and paying bills. Our initial case evaluation is always free and without obligation. We also do not collect any attorney's fees unless you win your case, as we work on a contingency basis. Reach out to a personal injury lawyer.
If you suffered injuries or lost a loved one in a California drunk driving accident, do not wait to contact a California accident lawyer at Galine, Frye, Fitting & Frangos. Contact our office today at (650) 345-8484 for your free, no-obligation case evaluation.