Santa Ana Drunk Driving Accidents
In spite of an extensive public campaign against drunk driving, some drivers continue to drive drunk. Unfortunately, innocent drivers, passengers, and bystanders may be catastrophically injured or killed when this happens. In 2013 and 2014, there were a total of 14 fatal accidents caused by drunk drivers in Santa Ana, several of which involved multiple victims. If you were injured in a drunk driving accident caused by someone else, you should not wait to see if a driver is criminally convicted before bringing a lawsuit for damages. Our Santa Ana drunk driving accident lawyers are ready to advocate on your behalf.Asserting Your Rights Against a Drunk Driver
Both a criminal case and a civil case may be filed after a drunk driving accident that causes injuries or death. The criminal case is filed by a prosecutor on behalf of the State, while the civil case can be filed by a person who is injured or by the family of someone killed by a drunk driver. You do not need to wait for the conclusion of the criminal trial to pursue civil remedies, and in fact, you should not. Even if restitution is awarded in the criminal DUI case, it is unlikely to be a large enough sum to make up for serious injuries or a wrongful death.
The burden of proof in the criminal case is "beyond a reasonable doubt," whereas the burden of proof in a civil case is "preponderance of the evidence." The former is a more difficult burden to meet than the latter.
To establish that you should recover damages for a drunk driving accident, you will need to show that it is more likely than not that the defendant owed you a duty of care, breached this duty by driving drunk, caused your injuries, and resulted in your suffering actual damages. In some cases, evidence used to build a criminal case may be helpful to establishing a civil case. For example, if a defendant underwent chemical testing after his arrest, and his blood alcohol content was .15%, it is persuasive evidence that he was driving drunk. This evidence may go toward proving a breach of duty in a civil personal injury case. On the other hand, if there is no useful evidence from the criminal case, this does not necessarily hurt your civil case for damages. A drunk driving accident attorney can help Santa Ana victims gather the appropriate forms of evidence.
You may be able to recover compensatory damages after a drunk driving accident. These include medical expenses, vocational rehabilitation, lost wages, lost earning capacity, pain and suffering, mental anguish, and household services. Compensatory damages are damages designed to put you back into the position in which you were prior to getting into the accident.
In most car accident cases, you are limited to recovering compensatory damages. However, in drunk driving accidents, you may be able to recover punitive damages from the drunk driver. Under California Civil Code section 3294, you may be able to recover punitive damages if you can show by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant is guilty of malice, oppression, or fraud. The act of drunk driving can be considered an act of malice if it happens under circumstances showing a conscious disregard of the probable danger and consequences. Punitive damages are damages designed to deter future similar conduct and punish the drunk driver. The amount of punitive damages awarded depends on the circumstances. The jury has discretion over the amount and in making an award will consider the nature of your injuries, the character of the defendant's drunk driving, and the defendant's wealth.Hire a Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer in Santa Ana
Santa Ana is the second-most populated city in Orange County, California. The city is 27.5 square miles and traversed by several freeways leading from Los Angeles to San Diego. Car crashes in this area can cause catastrophic or even fatal injuries. At Sharifi Firm, APC, our experienced Santa Ana drunk driving accident attorneys may be able to help you recover compensation. Contact us online or at (866) 422-7222 for a free consultation with a car accident lawyer.