DUI CRASH AND YOUR RIGHTS
Rights of DUI Victims
Unfortunately, DUI accidents are a common occurrence and are reported in the media almost every day. When you or a loved one have been injured by a drunk driver, certain rights to compensation exist that are not present in a typical auto accident claim. Moreover, if the DUI driver is convicted of a felony, additional rights may be available.
What Rights Are Affected In a DUI Accident
When a DUI driver causes an injury-accident, the victim is entitled to the damages typically recoverable, such as pain, suffering, medical expenses, lost wages, etc. Those damages must be shown with credible evidence and must not be based on speculation or guess. Generally, economic losses are proven with documents such as medical bills, pay check stubs, etc. When it comes to non-economic damages, establishing the precise injuries sustained is all that is required before a victim is entitled to pain, suffering and emotional distress damages.
Additionally, if the DUI driver is convicted of a felony as a result of the collision, then you may have the right to recover reasonable attorney's fees. California Code of Civil Procedure § 1021.4. In such cases, the court has the discretion to award such fees and determine the amount of those fees.
If there is evidence that the DUI driver knew they were impaired and recklessly put others at risk of being hurt or killed, punitive damages may be awarded by a judge or jury. There must be clear and convincing evidence that the DUI driver acted "with a willful and knowing disregard of the rights or safety of another." Evidence of the DUI driver's conduct immediately before getting behind the wheel, may be introduced to prove this element. For example, if the driver had been told not to drive by a friend because of their drunkenness, that may be used to establish "knowing disregard."
Another Important Right of DUI Victims
In California, generally if you are the innocent victim in a motor vehicle accident when you did not have insurance at the time of the collision that lack of insurance results in your loss of the right to recover compensation for pain and suffering. Obviously, in a serious collision, this can be a devastating loss. However, if the other driver is convicted of driving under the influence (DUI), then your right to recover pain and suffering damages is effectively restored. This is incredibly important as the damages for pain and suffering in a serious crash usually outweigh the economic losses by a considerable amount.
If you are injured by the actions of a DUI driver, whether you were insured or not, you should contact an experienced personal injury in order to protect your rights and secure compensation for your injuries and damages.