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How to Sue a Drunk Driver After a Car Accident in California

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Chuck Geerhart
how to sue drunk driver after a car accident

Drunk driving accidents are particularly egregious because the impaired driver knowingly puts other drivers at risk with their actions.

If a drunk driver caused your accident, it is well within your rights to bring a civil negligence lawsuit against the driver to recover for injuries sustained in your accident.

Recovering compensation after an accident might involve an insurance claim, lawsuit, or the liable party paying you out of pocket.

In any case, knowing how to proceed after your accident requires an attorney’s expertise.

Determining how much you can recover from your accident and whether you can sue in the first place are key questions an attorney will answer for you.

Can You Sue a Drunk Driver?

After an accident, you may have lots of questions. Can you sue a drunk driver? How do I sue a drunk driver? Can you sue if a drunk driver hits you? The simple answer is yes. Accident victims can file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver to seek compensation for their damages.

However, suing may not be the best choice. An accident victim should consider all aspects of a potential lawsuit before deciding whether suing is the right step forward. 

Suing the drunk driver might not be effective. Even though you could file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver, you have to consider whether doing so would benefit you.

If the at-fault driver does not have assets, there may not be enough money to compensate you. In this case, even though the law allows you to sue, it might not be worth the time or effort.

On the other hand, if the driver has insurance or deep pockets, it makes sense to pursue compensation to the fullest extent of the law.

The first step in either circumstance is determining whether the drunk driver was negligent. 

How to Sue a Drunk Driver for Negligence 

As noted above, other options exist for pursuing compensation after a car accident besides suing.

Generally, the road to compensation begins with filing an insurance claim and proving that the other party was negligent.

An insurance claim or lawsuit will only be successful if the accident victim can prove the driver was negligent. 

A driver is considered negligent when they fail to use reasonable care to prevent harm to others. Negligence is relatively easy to prove when a driver violates traffic regulations and causes an accident.

In the case of drunk driving, negligence is especially easy to prove when the driver is arrested and charged with a DUI. 

If filing an insurance claim does not result in an agreeable settlement or the insurance company does not agree on the facts of your case, then pursuing a lawsuit might be the best course of action.

There is always the possibility that the other party will not want to engage their insurance company or defend themselves in a lawsuit and will choose to pay you out of pocket.

An out-of-pocket settlement can benefit both parties as long as the liable party is willing to provide appropriate compensation for the accident, as it simplifies the process. 

However, you can’t know if your settlement amount is appropriate if you don’t know how much your case is worth.

Hiring an attorney is crucial because they will help determine the appropriate compensation amount and help you negotiate against the other party. 

Can You Receive Compensation?

I got hit by a drunk driver, what am I entitled to? Drunk driving accident victims can seek compensation for their damages against the at-fault driver, but what exactly are “damages?”

Damages can be property damage, injuries, loss of work and income, pain and suffering for bodily harm, and the cost of rehabilitation and recovery.

Punitive damages might be awarded if a judge feels the DUI driver needs additional punishment.

More common damages include compensation for medical bills, permanent impairment, scarring, and change in quality of life. Putting a value on these damages is complicated, but an attorney can help.

Hit by a Drunk Driver? Contact Our San Francisco Lawyer Today

The Law Office of Chuck Geerhart can help you recover damages and determine what your case is worth.

Chuck is a member of an invitation-only organization of premier trial lawyers who have tried at least ten jury cases, the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA).

Chuck is highly experienced, with several successful million-dollar accident cases under his belt. Contact his office today to help maximize your recovery after a drunk driver caused your accident.

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