Drunk drivers are a menace on California’s roads. According to the state’s Office of Traffic Safety, drunk drivers caused 1,059 fatalities in 2016, a significant increase from the year before. Thousands more suffer injuries that leave them in considerable pain after being struck by an impaired driver.
If you were hit by a drunk driver, you might be entitled to compensation, but you will need to act quickly. Reach out to Levinson Law Group right away to begin protecting your rights.
I Got Hit by a Drunk Driver, What Am I Entitled to?
Accident victims are entitled to compensation to help them cover the economic losses associated with the drunk driving accident. There are many types of economic losses, including:
- Medical expenses. You can be reimbursed for the costs of any medical treatment, such as surgery, hospital overnight stays, rehabilitation, doctor’s visits, prescription or over-the-counter drugs, and assistive devices like crutches or wheelchairs. If you need continuing care in the future, you can also receive a sum of money to cover that
. Lostwages if your injuries kept you from working. People with severe, life-altering injuries can also qualify for future lost wages.
- Property damage to your vehicle to repair it or replace it.
To establish your economic losses, you should hold onto all documents like medical bills, receipts, pay stubs, and car repair estimates or bills. Your attorney can review them to help calculate the amount you are entitled to.
Under California law, you can also receive compensation for pain and suffering, which covers:
- Physical pain
- Mental anguish
- Emotional distress, like grief or anxiety
- Loss of enjoyment of life
These are real losses, which is why California lets you receive compensation for them. Imagine never being able to enjoy a hike with your spouse or lifting up your grandchild. Wouldn’t you want to be compensated for that?
Unlike economic losses, it is not easy to put a precise dollar amount on these losses. No amount of money can really compensate you for pain, emotional distress, and the loss of enjoyment of life. Nevertheless, the law empowers juries to use their experience to assign a dollar amount to these intangible losses, and we can use our experience to estimate how much you might receive.
How Do I Make a Claim for Compensation?
Car accidents involving drunk drivers in many ways are exactly like other car accidents. Even if there is a criminal prosecution ongoing against the defendant, you can still pursue compensation in a settlement or in a civil lawsuit.
Typically, you will need to contact the insurance company for the driver who was at fault. They will want to see medical bills and other proof of injury. They will also need to investigate whether their insured was really at fault for the collision. Generally, it is a good idea to wait until you reach maximum medical improvement before you submit a claim to an insurer, since you will definitely know how much you have spent on medical care.
The key is timing. You might benefit by waiting for evidence to come out in the criminal prosecution. In other situations, you might not be able to delay and want to seek compensation immediately. An attorney can make these judgment calls so that they work to your benefit.
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I Was Hit by a Drunk Driver with No Insurance: What Now?
This is a tricky situation to be in, but you need to realize you do have options. Many of our clients carry uninsured motorist insurance, called UM insurance. These policies kick in precisely for situations where an uninsured driver has hit you. You can make a claim with your UM insurer, who will pay out benefits for medical care, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
If you have collision insurance, you can also make a claim with them for the damage to your vehicle. Collision will cover any damage caused by a collision, so this is great insurance to have in the event the driver who hit you is uninsured.
Other options include suing the driver and seizing property that he or she has. The sheriff can then sell the property and distribute some of the proceeds to you. This can be a long, tedious process unless the defendant has a lot of cash in a bank account. However, sometimes it is the only option you will have for getting compensated.
You might also be able to sue a third party, such as a bar that served alcohol to a minor. The bar should have insurance that can pay out a settlement or jury verdict, so you can receive money that way.
Why Should I Hire Levinson Law Group?
Your choice of attorney will make a big difference between receiving full compensation for your losses or settling for a small amount. If you were hit by a drunk driver, settlement negotiations might be the last thing on your mind. You could be confused and unsure about what to do. California’s insurance laws are no help, often making the process for receiving compensation needlessly complex.
This is where an attorney helps. We can relieve you of this heavy load and work with the insurance company to establish liability and the full extent of your damages. Unlike other law firms, we handle car accident cases daily, so we are familiar with the state’s largest insurance companies and their tricks. We have no problem being aggressive in negotiations.
Unlike other firms, we also are not afraid to file a lawsuit if necessary to get you the compensation you need. Settlement isn’t always possible, but you need compensation just the same. We can help.
Trusted Legal Guidance when You Need it Most
If you were injured by a drunk driver, please call us. Injured victims must be proactive about bringing a claim for compensation. Any delay can only hurt your case.
At Levinson Law Group, we treat our clients like family. Your best interests will be the motivation for everything that we do. For more information about how we can help, please reach out to us today.