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Suing a Driver Under the Influence for Personal Injury

Suing a Driver Under the Influence for Personal InjuryWhen someone is caught driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they could face criminal charges in the form of a DUI. However, if they injured you while they were under the influence, then you could take them to court and sue them for personal injury. Damages, including damages to punish them (punitive damages) may be available to you.

Riverside, and Inland Empire California personal injury lawyers Heiting & Irwin have over four decades of experience assisting clients with personal injury. We have retrieved more than $400 million for our clients, and we’ll work hard to get you the settlement you deserve.

Bringing a Civil Case Against an Impaired Driver

When an impaired driver hits and injures you, you have a right to take them to civil court for your damages. Even if they’re serving time behind bars for their crime or got their license taken away, these actions are separate from your civil case. In a criminal case, typically the state will bring charges against an impaired driver, but in a civil case, you will be the plaintiff. The other driver does not need to be found guilty of drunk driving in order for you to sue them for damages.

Keep in mind that you must initiate your lawsuit (usually within two years of your injury, but other shorter or longer time limits may apply) since there are time limits in California. It’s better to file your lawsuit much sooner, though, to show that your injuries are serious. Additionally, if you wait a few months or the full two years, you are likely to forget key details about the car accident. This could be detrimental to your case, where you’ll need to be able to recall what happened to have the best chance possible of receiving a proper settlement.

Damages in a Drunk Driving Case

There are a number of damages that could be brought up in your drunk driving civil case. They include: Medical bills (past and future), Lost wages if you had to take time off work; loss of abilities/opportunities to make money, Damage to your vehicle and personal property, Loss of enjoyment of life, Pain and suffering and/or Care in the short-term and long-term.

Some of the injuries that could result from being hit by a drunk driver include: Head trauma, Skull and facial fractures, Brain damage, Burns, Ligament damage, Muscle damage, Broken bones, Injury to your internal organs, Herniated disc injury, Spinal cord injury, Traumatic brain injury, Paralysis and/or Soft tissue injuries.

The more severe your injuries, the higher your damages will be. For instance, if you suffered from simple short-term back pain, you might only need to go to a chiropractor for a few months, or less, for treatment. But if you experienced a traumatic brain injury, then you may need care for the rest of your life. Your medical expenses will be higher; you might not be able to work; and you could miss out on opportunities in life that are incalculable.  You could go after higher damages to compensate for all these issues you’re now facing.

The Drunk Driving Case

When you bring about your civil case, you’ll need to show that the drunk driver breached their duty of care when they hit you. Essentially, every driver on the road has a duty of care to uphold, which means they are required drive safely to protect others. When someone is behind the wheel while drunk or high, they are, of course, breaching that duty of care and putting other people in danger. Common carriers, like bus drivers, Uber, or Lyft drivers, have an even higher duty of care for their passengers.

Gathering Evidence for Your Case

It’s critical that you or your lawyer act quickly to collect evidence of the accident and your injuries so that you have a strong case against the drunk driver. It is essential that the authorities come to the scene.  When you’re at the scene of the accident, call the authorities to report the accident – if they aren’t already there – and generate a police report. Take photos of the damages and scene. Also snap photos of the other driver’s car and license plate.  You might consider even photographing or filming the other party, if it is not dangerous to do so. It may not be possible because they’re drunk, but try to get their insurance information as well. If you can’t get it because they’re impaired, the police will assist in retrieving it.

Ask witnesses who saw what happened if they can give you their contact information, and note the location of any cameras that could have captured the accident on tape. You – or your lawyer – can reach out to make contact and collect footage.

As soon as you can, go to the hospital to get a checkup. You might get X-rays done, as well, to see if there is any internal damage you might not be aware of in the moment. Whatever instructions your doctor gives you, follow them. You’ll need to get better and show that you’re taking your care seriously. If you miss appointments or fail to take your medication, the defendant’s insurance company may not believe you are injured.  They will certainly attack the failure to take care of yourself.

If the other driver’s insurance company contacts you, don’t talk to them except to refer them to your lawyer, and don’t let them take a recorded statement, either. They’ll likely try to use it against you.

Instead, have a qualified, highly-rated, personal injury lawyer represent you. They will help you gather the necessary proof you need for your case as well as negotiate with the insurance company to get you a proper settlement. In a drunk driving case, your damages could be quite high, and you don’t want to miss out on getting the full settlement you deserve.

Get in Touch With Heiting & Irwin for Personal Injury Help

If a drunk driver hit and injured you and you wish to seek out compensation for your damages, then it’s time to find a personal injury lawyer to represent you. Heiting & Irwin are here for you. We have dealt with many, many personal injury cases and will work hard to get you the settlement that you deserve. Contact us online at HILegalGroup.com or call us at 951-682-6400 to start your case now. We look forward to hearing from you.

Dennis Stout is a native Californian with significant ties to the Inland Empire, where he continues to reside. A graduate of Upland High School, the University of California, Riverside (B.S. Economics), and the University of La Verne (J.D.), Mr. Stout has practiced law continuously since 1979. He has been married to his wife, Alicia (R.N., C.E.N., M.I.C.N.) since that same year, and they have three adult children, all of whom live in Southern California. View Attorney Dennis Stout's Attorney Bio Here.

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