DUI Deaths are on the Rise in California
Drunk driving remains a problem across the country and certainly in California. Thousands of innocent victims become DUI accident fatality statistics each year and even more suffer life-altering injuries and trauma because of intoxicated driving. More than 25% of all traffic-related deaths are the direct result of alcohol impairment nationally; but, in California, 31% of all auto accident fatalities involved drunk drivers. DUI deaths are on the rise in California; alcohol-related fatalities among California residents have risen nearly 10% in the past 10 years
Drivers with a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of over 0.10 are seven times more likely to be involved in a fatal car accident than sober drivers. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has found that over 10,000 Americans are killed in DUI crashes every year. During the eight-year period between 2003 and 2011, California had the second-highest number of drunk driving accident fatalities in the entire country, with 10,327; sadly, DUI deaths continue to increase in California.
Anyone injured in a California car accident has the legal right to sue the at-fault driver for the resulting damages. When the driver is drunk or impaired by drugs, the victim may be able to bring additional claims for compensation. If you have been affected by a life-changing injury or lost a loved one due to a drunk driver’s negligence, you should speak with an experienced car accident lawyer as soon as possible to learn more about your options and to ensure that case-related evidence is properly preserved.
Criminal and Civil DUI Court Proceedings
People who get behind the wheel after drinking are far more likely to cause motor vehicle collisions than sober drivers. Because a drunk driver’s reaction times are slowed and their judgment is impaired, DUI accidents are often more serious and cause severe injuries and even wrongful death.
When someone drives drunk, they not only put others on the road at risk – they are also breaking the law. According to California Vehicle Code Section 23152 (a): “It is unlawful for any person who is under the influence of any alcoholic beverage or drug, or under the combined influence of any alcoholic beverage and drug, to drive a vehicle.” A DUI injury or DUI death claim will lead to two separate types of court proceedings in two distinct courts, but these two cases are not tied together. Criminal proceedings will be initiated by the government against the drunk driver for breaking the law. Punishment can vary based on a variety of circumstances, including whether this is a first offense or if the driver’s actions injured or killed one or more victims, but generally include jail or prison sentences, fines, or probation. Criminal cases do not compensate the victims injured or killed for their damages and losses; only a civil action can do that.
Civil proceedings are not automatic; drunk driving accident victims must choose to initiate a civil lawsuit against the driver. If a person is injured in a DUI accident, they can file a lawsuit against the responsible driver and/or any other liable parties in civil court. In this type of court case, if the responsible driver has been found guilty of a DUI, it can improve the plaintiff’s case against them in a civil court under California’s negligence per se law. This law presumes negligence on the part of a defendant if they violate a law, statute, or ordinance and the violation causes an injury of the type the law was put in place to prevent.
Potentially Liable Parties for DUI Deaths
Each year, over 30,000 Californians are seriously injured in impaired driving car accidents and more than 2,000 are fatally wounded. While it may seem obvious that the drunk driver who caused the crash would be legally responsible for the resulting damages, other parties may also be liable depending on the circumstances of each individual claim. The parties who can potentially be held liable for a drunk driving accident include:
- The drunk driver’s employer if they are operating the vehicle in the course and scope of their employment and/or were negligently entrusted with a company vehicle
- An alcohol-serving establishment that overserved the driver under a legal theory called dram shop liability
- An event or party host who serves alcohol and a guest causes a drunk driving accident
Curtis Legal Group: California DUI Injury and Death Lawyers
Our entire team cares about the communities we serve and the people in them. We have secured millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements for victims of others’ negligence and wrongdoing. Contact an experienced California DUI injury accident attorney who can protect your rights and hold the at-fault parties accountable, ensuring you receive the financial compensation you deserve after your crash.