It doesn’t matter whether you follow all the laws if someone else doesn’t. If you’ve been injured in an accident with a drunk driver, the pain isn’t any less just because you were sober. Let Neale & Fhima, LLP help you recover the compensation to which you are entitled for the negligence of someone else’s actions. We can’t make the injury go away, but we can help get what’s rightfully yours.
California adheres to federal standards on basic alcohol-related laws. The legal drinking age is 21; and, regardless of age, anyone caught driving with a blood alcohol level (BAC) of .08 or higher is considered driving under the influence. In 2013 alone, there were 160,388 arrests for DUI. There were also 1,197 alcohol-related crash fatalities, representing 38.6 percent of all traffic fatalities and 23,178 alcohol-involved crash injuries.
California has tough laws against drunk driving. Following national standards, drinking when under 21 years of age is illegal, as it is for anyone driving with a blood alcohol level (BAC) of more than .08. Specific to California, for a first offense, even if there is no damage and no one is injured, the minimum penalties include roughly $1,800 in fines, alcohol classes and a 90-day license suspension. Maximum penalties include $3,600 in fines and assessments, six months in jail, six- to nine-month license suspension, and an interlock device that won’t let the car start if you’ve been drinking. Second offenses are much worse. Fines, time and suspension increase exponentially. If there is a third or even a fourth conviction, fines and assessments add up to more than $18,000; and on a fourth offense, the offender may face a 16-month term in state prison, among other penalties. But despite these penalties, people still endanger the lives around them by drinking and driving.
Drunk driving affects everyone. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) compiles statistics and offers help to those that have been victims of an alcohol-related crash. Here are some of their findings:
- 28 people are killed every day by drunk drivers.
- Every 51 minutes a victim of drunk driving dies.
- Drunk drivers cost every American $500 per year.
- Drunk driving is 100 percent preventable.
If you have been involved in a crash with a drunk driver in Orange County or Southern California, contact Neale & Fhima, LLP as soon as possible. We offer a free consultation to evaluate the merits of your claim and help you receive the compensation to which you are entitled. We understand your time is valuable, so if you live in Southern California but not near our offices in Dana Point, San Diego, San Francisco or Los Angeles, we can arrange to meet you with you to discuss your case. With a 99 percent success rate, we offer the experience and expertise to help you successfully prosecute your case and finish with results that are fair for you.
Alcohol-related crashes cause damage across a wide spectrum, from loss of life to loss of property. Neale & Fhima understand that the damage isn’t always just physical. Our experienced attorneys will help you recover the damages to which you are entitled, including, but not limited to:
- Property damage — injury to real or personalproperty through another’s negligence, willful destruction, or by some act of nature
- Medical expenses from the injury and future expenses —Any cost incurred in the prevention or treatment of injury
- Loss of current and future income – Loss of income either at present or in the future. If the reason for an individual’s inability to work is because of another’s negligence, that individual is responsible.
- Pain and suffering – The physical and emotional stress that may result from an injury, potentially including aches, limitations on activity, depression or any of a myriad of other effects caused by an injury.
- Disability — a physical or mental condition that limits a person’s movements, senses, or activities. If a disability is caused by another’s negligence, you may be eligible for compensation.
As with any other type of accident, the injuries associated with any alcohol-related crash can be varied. However, some of the most common ones are:
- Brain Injuries/Traumatic Brain Injuries — Traumatic brain injury occurs when an external mechanical force causes brain dysfunction.
- Spinal Cord Injuries — Damage to any part of the spinal cord or nerves at the end of the spinal canal.
- Wrongful Death — The death of a human being as the result of a wrongful act of another person.
- Loss of Limbs – When a limb is separated from the body or amputated as the result of an accident or injury.
- Organ Damage – Damage to the internal organs as the result of physical trauma; injury may occur directly to the organ or indirectly from another.
- Paralysis — The loss of the ability to move (and sometimes to feel anything) in part or most of the body.
If You’re in an Accident
Of course, we all would prefer not to be in an accident, but since we can’t control the actions of others, it’s best to know what to do if you are involved in one. Esurance advises travelers to take the following steps after an accident. Always remember that your safety comes first.
- Move to a safe area (if you can) — If it’s safe to do so and you aren’t seriously injured, move your car out of further harm’s way, like to the shoulder of the road. If moving your car just isn’t possible, flip on your hazards to warn other drivers that your vehicle isn’t going anywhere any time soon.
- Stop your vehicle and get out — Make sure your car is no longer moving, turn off the engine, shift into park, or set the hand brake if you drive a manual. Take a moment to catch your breath. Check to make sure it’s safe to get out of your car before opening the door. If you have flares or similar road safety items, consider using them.
- Check on others involved — Check on all the other parties involved, including drivers, passengers, and pedestrians, to make sure no one is hurt. Call 911 if anyone may be injured. Even a seemingly minor symptom like dizziness should be checked out by a health care professional.
- Call the police to the scene — Even in minor accidents, a police accident report can prove invaluable when dealing with your car insurance company and other drivers. Cooperate fully, but avoid admitting fault or blaming others while at the scene. Let the police objectively judge events and determine who, if anyone, is at fault in the crash.
- If the police can’t make it to the scene (which is more likely if there are no injuries, but a police officer should always be present when an alcohol related accident has occurred), you can file an accident report through your state’s DMV.
- Gather info — Try to write down as much info as possible in the accident aftermath, including:
- Driver and passenger names
- License plate numbers
- Insurance info
- Makes and models of all vehicles involved
- Contact info for any eyewitnesses
- Location of the accident
- The name and badge number of any responding police officers
- Document the scene — If you have a smartphone with a camera, snap some photos of the accident scene. They’ll come in handy during the claim process.
At Neale & Fhima, we have extensive experience helping clients file successful personal injury claims and our services are 100% free until we collect compensation for you. Call or email us today for a consultation on your case.