If you suffered injuries after a car accident with a drunk driver, you could be understandably frustrated and confused. 

Drunk drivers cause thousands of deaths every year, despite strict DUI penalties. If a drunk driver causes an accident, they may be liable for any resulting injuries or damages.

The Law Office of Chuck Geerhart represents victims injured in drunk driving accidents in need. 

Looking for information on drunk driving accident claims in California and how you can recover? Contact us today to schedule a free, no obligation consultation with DUI accident attorney Chuck Geerhart.

Drunk Driving in California

Any fatal crash involving a driver with a blood alcohol level above the legal limit of .08 is referred to as an alcohol-impaired-driving crash. Fatalities occurring in an alcohol-impaired-driving crash are known as alcohol-impaired-driving fatalities. 

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 3,798 traffic fatalities occurred in 2018 in the state of California. 1,069 of California’s traffic fatalities, or approximately 30%, occurred in an alcohol-impaired-driving accident. The findings also indicated that drunk driving fatalities are more likely to occur in urban areas than rural areas. 

In San Francisco County alone, a study conducted by the California Department of Motor Vehicles indicated that for the year of 2016, 312 car accidents occurred where alcohol or drugs were a factor. San Francisco boasts the fourth highest population in the state of California, and is an urban hotspot for the northern part of California. Thus, it should not be a shock that San Francisco County sees numerous drunk driving accidents every year. 

Individuals hurt in a car accident caused by an impaired driver should seek the advice of a DUI accident attorney to determine if they have a claim for compensation.

San Francisco DUI Accident Attorney
Individuals hurt in a car accident caused by an impaired driver should seek the advice of a DUI accident attorney.

Common Injuries in DUI Accidents

Injuries suffered in drunk driving accidents can be very serious. Drunk driving accident victims sustain injuries that can include:

  • Spinal cord injuries,
  • Whiplash,
  • Traumatic brain injuries,
  • Internal bleeding,
  • Broken bones,
  • Lacerations,
  • Puncture wounds, and
  • Amputations.

Most DUI accident victims face not only life-altering injuries but also the burden of having to pay for medical treatment and rehabilitation to get back on their feet. A drunk driving accident lawyer can fight to ensure that the victim receives compensation for damages arising out of the accident. 

What Kinds of Damages Are Available in a Drunk Driving Accident Claim? 

The damages available to victims of drunk driving accidents range from tangible losses, like the paychecks the victim missed while in the hospital, to intangible losses, like the mental anguish suffered by the victim in the aftermath of the accident. Other forms of compensation include:

  • Loss of future earning capacity,
  • Medical costs,
  • Rehabilitation costs,
  • Property damage expenses,
  • Pain and suffering, and
  • Loss of quality of life.

No matter the circumstances, drunk driving accident victims can seek full compensation for any harm that occurred because of the crash. 

How to Prove a Drunk Driving Accident Claim

In most DUI accidents, law enforcement arrests the drunk driver at the scene. The authorities will subsequently charge the driver with a violation of DUI statutes, which carries a variety of consequences.

Notwithstanding criminal penalties, victims of drunk driving accidents and their families can sue the drunk driver in civil court to recover monetary damages. 

Personal injury claims require plaintiffs to establish that the defendant was negligent. If the defendant acted negligently, the plaintiff may be able to recover damages for harm arising out of the defendant’s negligence.

Negligence Per Se

To prove negligence, plaintiffs typically present information to establish four elements. However, in some cases, a defendant is presumed “negligent as a matter of law” when:

  • He or she violated a statute, ordinance, or regulation;
  • The violation resulted in the death or injury of a person;
  • The harm caused was the type of harm the statute was designed to prevent; and
  • The victim was the person the statute was designed to protect. 

This is known as negligence per se and shifts the burden to the defendant to prove he or she was not negligent.

Legislators implement drunk driving laws to prevent car accidents caused by impaired drivers. Drunk driving laws aim to protect other drivers, passengers, and pedestrians on California roads. Thus, defendants charged with violating California’s drunk driving laws after causing an accident in which another driver or pedestrian suffered injuries are typically considered negligent per se.

Comparative Negligence Rules

California subscribes to the theory of pure comparative negligence. 

That means a jury determines the percentage of fault to assign to each party in an accident. Then, based on this determination of fault, the jury may reduce the plaintiff’s recovery by their percentage of fault in causing the accident. 

For example, if a drunk driving accident victim receives a $10,000 award for damages but was 40% at fault for the accident, the victim’s final recovery equals $6,000.

California does not bar recovery for at-fault plaintiffs, no matter how much blame they carry. Even if you were 99% at fault for an accident, you can recover 1% or your damages from another at-fault driver.

Your California DUI Accident Attorney

Drunk driving accidents are devastating, both for victims and their families. 

The aftermath of a DUI accident can feel overwhelming, but know that there are ways for you to get the compensation you need to help you get through this. Contacting a drunk driving accident lawyer is a great first step to take on the pathway to recovery. 

DUI accident attorney Chuck Geerhart has been helping injury victims in the San Francisco area recover for decades. With more than 30 years of experience, Chuck has what it takes to be a fierce advocate for DUI injury clients in need.

If you or a loved one has suffered injuries due to the actions of a drunk driver on California roads, contact the Law Office of Chuck Geerhart today. Let’s schedule your free consultation, so you can get the representation and personal attention you deserve.

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  • A friend recommended Chuck Geerhart. It was an excellent recommendation.

    As a British journalist, recently based in San Francisco and without medical insurance, things seemed pretty messy after I found myself in an airport shuttle, driven by a lunatic, who struck a parked cab. I had to go to hospital, who diagnosed a head injury – as, later, did a neurologist – but the shuttle company’s insurance company continually balked at paying the bills.

    A friend recommended Chuck Geerhart. It was an excellent recommendation. He was a great lawyer to have on my side, persistent in his battles with the insurance company, supportive of his client and a pleasure to work with, resolving the claim with the minimum of fuss.

    Susan
  • Chuck made sure I was fairly compensated for this life altering injury.

    I was working as an air traffic controller at SFO when a notoriously faulty elevator slammed to a stop between floors, throwing me against the wall and rupturing discs in my neck. I had to have major surgery on my neck. The City and the elevator maintenance company denied liability, until Chuck Geerhart obtained copies of all prior repair records which showed the elevator was continually resetting due to a power supply issue.

    During the discovery phase of the case, to protect my privacy rights, he filed a motion with court to block a subpoena issued by the defense that sought to obtain my complete confidential employment file and complete health history in violation of the law. We ultimately settled the case for $1,000,000 after mediation.

    I feel that Chuck did a great job making sure I was fairly compensated for this life-altering injury.

    Denise
  • Chuck Geerhart dealt with my case in the most humane way I could imagine.

    I was fortunate to have been referred to Chuck Geerhart when I was dealing with a very painful and tragic case of abuse by religious leadership, which was stretched over five years.
    Chuck Geerhart dealt with my case in the most humane way I could imagine. He was intelligent and strategic in his approach, always very communicative; an attentive ear, fearless and confident support for someone who was very confused and seeking answers where there were only walls. He always involved me in the process, sharing crucial information with me and allowing me the time and space to decide and move forward. He treated me like a partner, which helped me recover the power that was taken away from me.
    At the same time he provided the professional expertise which I needed in order to win the case. The process of winning this case was as empowering as the actual outcome. It was a healing experience in itself. I am very happy with the support and guidance I got from Chuck as well as with the monetary result from such a serious injury. It has truly helped me move on in a good way.

    Frank