Irvine Drunk Driving Accidents
Despite a significant campaign against drunk driving across the country, drivers continue to drive while under the influence of alcohol. The results may be catastrophic or deadly. Passengers in a vehicle with a drunk driver may be affected, and so may innocent bystanders. If you are injured or a loved one was killed in a drunk driving accident, you should call us for help with asserting your rights. At Sharifi Firm, our Irvine drunk driving accident lawyers may be able to represent you in a lawsuit for damages.Drunk Driving Accidents May Cause Serious Harm
It is a misdemeanor to drive a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or the combination of these substances under California Vehicle Code § 23152a. If you were injured in an accident involving the arrest of the driver at fault for the accident for driving under the influence, you will probably proceed to file your lawsuit under a theory of negligence per se. This theory applies when a safety law is violated, and the violation is the cause of injuries to someone whom the law was intended to protect. In most cases, it helps a plaintiff to be able to use negligence per se because it shifts the focus of the case away from establishing a breach of duty toward the issue of damages.
The civil case is distinct from any criminal charges that may be brought against the drunk driver. In most criminal cases, the restitution ordered, if any, is not substantial enough to compensate for catastrophic injuries or a wrongful death. Most people choose to bring a personal injury lawsuit because the costs of medical care and lost wages may be significant. The burden of proof in the personal injury lawsuit is usually "preponderance of the evidence," whereas it is "beyond a reasonable doubt," a much higher standard, in criminal cases. A drunk driving accident attorney can guide Irvine residents through the process of building a claim.
If you can establish a defendant's liability in a drunk driving lawsuit, you may be able to recover economic and noneconomic losses. These losses may include lost wages, lost earning capacity, medical bills, hospital bills, medical mileage, loss of household services, loss of consortium, mental anguish, and pain and suffering. Unlike with most car accident cases, you may be able to recover punitive damages if you are injured in a drunk driving accident as well.
Under California Civil Code § 3294, you will need to show that a defendant has been engaging in conduct that shows malice, fraud, or oppression to recover punitive damages from them in a personal injury lawsuit or another claim arising out of a non-contractual obligation. The purpose of these damages is to deter future similar conduct and punish the defendant. Generally, drunk driving is considered egregious enough that punitive damages may be warranted. Usually, insurance policies exclude intentional conduct from coverage, which means that a drunk driver may need to pay you the punitive damages from their own pocket. The insurer typically needs to pay the compensatory damages portion of the award, but there may be some coverage issues. It is important to retain an attorney who understands the complicated issues involved and who can aggressively negotiate on your behalf after you have been injured in a drunk driving accident.Retain a Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer in Irvine
Irvine is an affluent planned city in Orange County. It is 66 square miles with a population of over 200,000 residents. The city's primary watercourse is the San Diego Creek, which flows into Upper Newport Bay. If you are hurt in a DUI crash, you should retain an experienced car accident attorney soon after the accident. Although the criminal case is separate from the civil case, the evidence that is developed in the criminal case may have implications in the civil case. It is important to have someone on your side investigating and developing the evidence for the case from the start. At Sharifi Firm, our Irvine drunk driving accident attorneys may be able to help you recover compensation. Contact us online or call us at (866) 422-7222 for a free appointment.