Many people enjoy having a few alcoholic drinks after work, on the weekends, for celebrations and holidays, or other times they want to relax. While having drinks is lawful for adults over age 21, driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol is not legal for anyone.
Did a drunk driver cause your crash and injuries? If so, you should never wait to reach out to a San Mateo drunk driving accident attorney. The legal team of Galine, Frye, Fitting & Frangos works to hold drunk drivers responsible for the harm they cause, so please consult with our firm about a possible case today.
If you were injured in a drunk driving accident — in the other vehicle or as a pedestrian — the experienced drunk driving accident lawyers of Galine, Frye, Fitting & Frangos can represent you in a lawsuit for damages. In certain cases, punitive damages may apply. Call (650) 345-8484 or email us today.
Hit by a Drunk Driver?
Many drunk driving accidents result from unsafe lane changes, crossing the center line, rear-ending or running through red lights or stop signs. This sudden impact at high speed often intensifies injuries because the victims had no chance to react. Our San Mateo law firm has successfully represented DUI accident victims across the San Francisco Bay Area.
NOTE: It is not necessary to prove that the person was legally drunk. We have collected full compensation even if the person was not convicted of driving under the influence. If the police report or witnesses indicate the driver had been drinking at all (or using drugs), we have access to experts in accident reconstruction, toxicology and human factors who can demonstrate how the driver’s vision, judgment, motor skills and reaction times were impaired. Call (650) 345-8484 or contact us online.
Compensation and Punitive Damages
If there is a conviction, it obviously helps your case. Under California law, victims can bring a civil lawsuit for punitive damages for certain factors such as prior DUIs or a BAC (blood alcohol concentration) well above the legal limit. Punitive damages are up to 10 times your actual damages (medicals, wages, pain and suffering).
If the drunk driver did not have insurance or your losses exceed their coverage limits, Galine, Frye, Fitting & Frangos pursues compensation under your own uninsured/underinsured motorist policy. It may also be possible to pursue the personal assets of the intoxicated driver.
Can I Sue the Bar or Host That Served the Drunk Driver?
Unfortunately, California’s statutes make it virtually impossible to collect dram shop damages for a drunk driving accident or alcohol related injury.
Can I Sue If I Was a Passenger of the Drunk Driver?
Yes. However, the amount of your recovery may vary under certain circumstances and be reduced if you knew the driver was drunk and rode along anyway or you provided the alcohol. Let our knowledgeable drunk driving accident attorneys in San Mateo evaluate your case.
Drunk Drivers in San Mateo
There are many things to do and places to eat and drink in San Mateo and the Bay Area in general. Whether you visit one of the many wineries or breweries in the area on the weekend, go to happy hour after working in Silicon Valley, or visit a large stadium for a concert or sports game, you can make the responsible choice and summon a rideshare driver or use public transportation to get home.
Not everyone makes the responsible decision, however, and you might encounter drunk drivers in and around San Mateo. Even if you remain vigilant for erratic drivers, you cannot always avoid a crash when an impaired driver makes a sudden mistake on the road.
In a recent year, 1,059 people died in drunk driving crashes in California, which is ten percent of the national total. Consequently, California has strict DUI laws because drunk driving puts everyone on the road at serious risk of injuries or death.
Law enforcement reported the following as the main errors that drunk drivers made that led to crashes:
- Driving at an unsafe speed
- Making improper turns
- Failing to yield the right of way
- Failing to follow traffic signs and signals
The types of collisions involving drunk drivers included:
- Hitting a stationary object = 44.5 percent
- Rear-end crashes = 13.5 percent
- Broadside collisions = 12.1 percent
- Rollover accidents = 11.7 percent
- Head-on collisions = 11.2 percent
All collisions can be dangerous, and no matter how your accident happened, always learn about your legal options following a crash. Drunk drivers and their insurance companies should cover all of your crash-related losses, though obtaining this compensation can be more difficult than you might imagine.
What to Do Following a Drunk Driving Crash
The things that you say and do in the days and weeks following an accident can have a significant impact on the resolution of your case. For this reason, it’s a good idea to speak to an attorney as soon as you can after your accident.
Some of the most dos and don’ts include:
- Seek medical attention and request a thorough medical exam as soon as you can after your crash. Car accidents can cause serious injuries, and some injuries may not become symptomatic for hours or days after the accident. In some cases, In addition, when you see a doctor or other healthcare professional., it will result in the creation of an official record that you may need to use to prove your damages to the insurance company.
- Do NOT accept any settlement offer made by the driver or their insurance company before you have had a chance to speak to an attorney. There is a good chance that the initial offer will not cover all of your accident-related losses, and once you accept an offer, it is extremely unlikely that you can recover any additional compensation.
- You should follow your treatment plan and attend any follow-up appointments that your doctor suggests. This means filling your prescriptions, engaging in any prescribed physical therapy, and following all of your doctor’s recommendations. If you do not, it could allow the insurance company to argue that you are not as hurt as you are claiming to be.
- Do NOT provide the insurance company with a recorded statement without your lawyer present. In many instances, the insurance company will pressure you to provide one, telling you that it will help get your claim processed. In reality, they are trying to get you to speak on the record while asking you questions trying to get you to admit fault for the accident.
- Be careful about what you post on social media. Insurance companies routinely monitor victims’ accounts looking for anything they can use to deny or minimize their claims. Even something as seemingly harmless as a photo of you out to dinner with friends could hurt your claim and result in a lower settlement offer.
Criminal DUI Cases versus Car Accident Claims
Police officers often arrest drunk drivers at the scene of the accident, and you might assume that the criminal process will be enough to protect your rights as an accident victim. However, while a convicted DUI offender might face fines, probation, or jail time, the case will likely not fully address your losses.
Instead, you must file an insurance claim with the drunk driver’s insurer, and you will need to present evidence to support your claim. A DUI conviction is proof enough of liability, but you still need to prove the damages you deserve.
- Costs of all medical care you received or need in the future
- Lost wages and future lost income
- Pain and suffering
- Permanent disabilities or impairments
You need the right lawyer to negotiate the full settlement you deserve or, if the insurance company will not cooperate, to file a civil lawsuit. This claim is separate from any case that takes place in criminal court.
Learn How a San Mateo Drunk Driving Accident Attorney Can Help
If you have suffered injuries in an accident caused by a drunk driver, it’s in your best interest to contact an attorney as soon as you can. Our drunk driving car accident lawyers will represent your rights as an accident victim during insurance claims or in civil court. To schedule a free consultation with a member of our team, call Galine, Frye, Fitting & Frangos today at (650) 345-8484 or contact us online.