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I Was Hurt in an Accident Caused by a Drunk Driver. What Legal Options Do I Have in California?

If you have been injured (or a loved one has been killed) in a vehicle accident caused by a drunk (or high) driver, there are certain legal options that are available to you in California. You can file a lawsuit against the intoxicated driver who was at fault in the accident. A successful civil court action may entitle you to receive payment from the at-fault driver herself and/or from her auto insurer. Of course, if you’ve suffered serious injuries and the at-fault driver was someone with very limited assets and only minimal insurance coverage, then those sources may not be nearly enough to cover the entirety of the harm you have suffered. You may need to do more and, depending on the facts surrounding your accident, the law may permit you to do more. Be sure to reach out an experienced San Mateo injury attorney to learn more about the options available to you.

Redwood City was the site of a recent tragic accident involving an alleged drunk driver. An 18-year-old woman allegedly was driving at “freeway speeds” along southbound Highway 101 in Redwood City her vehicle allegedly veered off the road, then “went down an embankment, flew into the air and crashed into a light pole and two trees before coming to a stop on its roof.” The accident seriously injured the driver and killed her 18-year-old passenger, reported.

According to prosecutors, the driver had “objective symptoms of intoxication.” Additionally, the driver told police that she drank “lots of shots” at a party in San Francisco, according to the Patch report.


A drunk driver who was underage may mean you have extra options

If you’re hurt in an accident like this Redwood City one, you may be entitled to do more than just sue the driver and her insurer. California law says that, in certain specific situations, the people or entities who serve alcohol to people who go out and cause DUI crashes may be liable for the acts of those drivers. California Civil Code Section 1714(d) lays out one such scenario, which involves a parent, guardian or other adult who provides alcohol at his residence to someone who he knows (or ought to know) is under 21.

In a scenario like that, you would need to sue in court, prove that the adult knew (or should have known) that the drinker was under 21 and that the underage drinker’s drinking was the “proximate cause” of the crash. If you prove all of those things, then you can recover compensation from that adult.

The other scenario occurs when a business provides alcohol to someone who was under 21 and was “obviously intoxicated.” That possibly can allow you to recover damages from that business.

So, if you were hurt in a crash similar to this Redwood City accident, you might have several options. You could sue the teenage drunk driver and you might also have a viable claim against the person serving alcohol shots at the San Francisco party. If the driver who hurt you had also stopped at a bar on the way home and, despite having “objective symptoms” of drunkenness, had been served more alcohol there, then you might also have a winning claim against that bar.

You may have heard that those who furnish alcohol to people who later drive drunk (and injure people in crashes) aren’t liable for the injuries that result from those crashes. That’s often correct, but it isn’t always correct. That’s the way a lot of legal concepts work… something may be generally true, but that doesn’t mean it’s always true.

Each case is, to some extent, unique based on its own unique set of facts. If you’ve been hurt in an accident, you owe it to yourself to get the right legal advice about your situation. Your options for suing and obtaining essential compensation may be better than you would have otherwise believed. Rely on the experienced San Mateo injury attorneys at the Law Offices of Galine, Frye, Fitting & Frangos for the advice and advocacy you need. Our knowledgeable and determined attorneys have spent many years helping injured people use the legal system to get what they deserve. To set up a free consultation with one of our attorneys, contact us at 650-345-8484 or through our website.

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