Who Is Liable for a Drunk Driving Accident in Los Angeles?

Who Is Liable for a Drunk Driving Accident in Los Angeles?When you are driving home from a friend’s house and a drunk driver suddenly slams into your vehicle, you may be thinking that it is obvious that the driver is liable for your accident. While there is a high likelihood that this is true, it is important to be aware that the legal system can be complex, and there may be more liable parties than you realize.

How to hold a drunk driver liable for your accident in Los Angeles, CA

When it comes to determining liability for a drunk driving accident, California is an at-fault state. This means that the insurance companies of both parties involved in the accident will look over the facts of the accident, investigate, and decide who is responsible. During this process, it is highly recommended that you seek the help of a Los Angeles drunk driving accident attorney to increase your chances of proving liability for your accident. To successfully accomplish this, you and your lawyer will work together to establish these four important elements:

  1. Duty of care: The drunk driver owed you a duty of care. This means that it was their duty to drive safely when sharing the road with you.
  2. Breach: They failed to drive safely around you, resulting in a breach of duty to you as another driver.
  3. Causation: Their careless and reckless behavior directly caused your accident.
  4. Damages: You suffered injuries and other losses because of the accident.

Insurance companies are ready and prepared to fight for the defendant – their client. They will do everything possible to try to imply that you played a role in the accident and share some of the liability. That is where your Los Angeles drunk driving accident lawyer will step in and ensure that your rights remain protected. Your attorney will help you collect strong and compelling evidence to support your claim, which may include medical records, police reports, eyewitness testimonies, expert witness statements, past driving records, photos, video footage, alcohol tests, and more.

Who else can be held liable for a drunk driving accident?

One of the most complex aspects of drunk driving accident cases is that there is a possibility that other parties could share liability for your accident. This typically only works for cases where the individual is under the age of 21, as California Civil Code Section 1714 explains that “everyone is responsible, not only for the result of his or her willful acts, but also for an injury occasioned to another by his or her want of ordinary care or skill in the management of his or her property or person.” However, the code includes that if a drunk driver is under the age of 21 and injures or kills another person after consuming alcohol, a claim can be filed against the individual who furnished the alcohol. Therefore, if the drunk driver who caused your accident is under 21, your attorney will conduct their own investigation into what happened and determine if any other parties could be liable. In this case, some of the parties that your attorney may consider include:

  • Bars
  • Clubs
  • Restaurants
  • Friends/ family members
  • Party hosts
  • Parents

Catastrophic injuries that result from drunk driving accidents

There are a variety of different injuries that often result from drunk driving accidents. However, a few of the most severe and catastrophic injuries include:

  • Traumatic brain injuries: These serious injuries occur arise in drunk driving accidents if the victim hits their head on the dashboard, steering wheel, the windshield, or other hard surface, causing their brain to become temporarily or permanently damaged.
  • Spinal cord injuries/paralysis: Spinal cord injuries are another severe injury that victims of drunk driving accidents may suffer. These injuries are located on your back, affecting the long cord-like structure made up of nerves. Most people who are diagnosed with spinal cord injuries are unable to ever fully recover or have the same quality of life that they had before their accident. Spinal cord injuries come with a variety of long-term complications, such as paralysis, inability to control their bladder and bowels, sexual dysfunction, respiratory problems, blood pressure issues, chronic pain, and more. If an individual with a spinal cord injury is diagnosed with paralysis, this means that their injury prevents their brain from properly communicating with their limbs making them unable to walk or move like they did before the accident.
  • Amputations or loss of limbs: When drunk driving accidents severely damage certain limbs, an amputation may be required. This means that the individual may need to have one of their arms, legs, feet, or hands surgically removed to survive.
  • Scarring and disfigurement: Scarring and disfigurement are also common after drunk driving accidents. This happens when punctures, cuts, lacerations, and other wounds have trouble healing properly. Individuals who suffer from scarring and disfigurement often become self-conscious and depressed as certain areas of their bodies will never look the same again.

The losses that you can claim from a Los Angeles drunk driving accident

There are various losses that you can claim from a drunk driving accident, such as:

  • Medical bills
  • Physical therapy costs
  • Lost wages and benefits
  • Loss of enjoyment of activities
  • Loss of quality of life
  • Mental and emotional trauma
  • Pain and suffering (in California, individuals can claim pain and suffering that their loved one experienced before their death.)

How common is drunk driving in California?

Unfortunately, per the following statistics, drunk driving is a very common cause of car accidents in California:

  • The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility found that there were close to 1,000 drunk driving fatalities in California in 2019 alone.
  • Over 120,000 people were arrested in the state for driving under the influence in 2019. While this may seem like a lot, it is important to keep in mind that many people drive under the influence and never get caught.
  • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 9,000 people were killed in drunk driving accidents in California between 2009 and 2018.

The Los Angeles drunk driving accident lawyers at McNicholas & McNicholas have the experience and skills to stand up for drunk driving accident victims and demand the compensation they need and deserve. Our team will work endlessly to prove that negligence was a factor in your accident and to hold irresponsible and careless individuals accountable for their actions. Please complete our contact form to schedule your free case review. This will be held remotely from the comfort of your home whenever you are ready.

This blog is not legal advice. Every case is unique and fact specific. If you would like legal advice based on your claim, consult with a lawyer today.