There is plenty of fun for residents and visitors in Stockton, with the Miracle Mile Entertainment District and shows at the Weber Point Events Hall. But when someone drinks too much and gets behind the wheel of a vehicle, serious drunk driving accidents can occur, seriously harming innocent people.
If you or a loved one was in a drunk driving accident, you may recover compensation for your medical bills, pain and suffering, and other losses. Contact the Stockton drunk driving accident attorneys at Roberts Personal Injury & Car Accident Lawyers, to discuss your legal options.
Why Choose Roberts Personal Injury & Car Accident Lawyers for Your Drunk Driving Accident Claim?
The Stockton personal injury lawyers at Roberts Personal Injury & Car Accident Lawyers have years of experience handling claims on behalf of injured accident victims, including those involved in or who lost a loved one in a drunk driving accident.
Our lawyers understand how difficult it is to pick up the pieces after an accident of this nature, and we want to help you. We provide personalized and compassionate service to each and every client. You have our promise that we will fight for justice on your behalf and seek to recover the maximum compensation possible in your case.
Contact the Stockton drunk driving accident lawyers at Roberts Personal Injury & Car Accident Lawyers today for a free and confidential consultation.
How Common is Drunk Driving in Stockton?
Over 10,000 people in the U.S. die each year in traffic accidents involving drunk drivers. And while public health efforts have helped drive down rates of DUI in the country since the 1980s, too many people suffer serious injuries or die in accidents involving alcohol-impaired drivers.
According to the latest California Department of Motor Vehicle statistics, there were 1,187 fatalities and 27,333 injuries in accidents involving alcohol-impaired drivers in California last year. Stockton sees between 150 and 200 alcohol-related accidents a year and as many as 500 arrests for DUIs.
DUI accidents can result in catastrophic or fatal injuries that can change the lives of the accident victim and their families in an instant. If you or a loved one suffered harm in a drunk driving accident, you may pursue compensation for your medical bills and other damages in a civil case apart from any criminal DUI charges the driver faces.
Contact a DUI accident attorney at Roberts Personal Injury & Car Accident Lawyers to hear your legal options.
How Does Alcohol Affect Drivers?
Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant. It slows down the activity of the brain and nervous system. While alcohol may relax and relieve people’s stress at first, these same mechanisms can significantly impair a driver’s ability to operate a vehicle safely.
Here’s some ways alcohol affects drivers:
- Impaired judgment: Alcohol impairs a driver’s ability to make rational decisions. It can lead to poor judgment, making drivers more likely to take risks, such as running red lights or attempting dangerous maneuvers.
- Reduced coordination: Alcohol affects fine motor skills and coordination, making it difficult for drivers to maintain precise control of the vehicle. This can result in swerving, erratic lane changes, and difficulty maintaining a steady speed.
- Slower reaction times: Alcohol slows down a driver’s reaction times. It takes longer for an intoxicated driver to recognize a potential hazard and react appropriately, increasing the risk of accidents.
- Impaired vision: Alcohol can affect a driver’s vision as well, leading to blurred or double vision. This can make seeing road signs, other vehicles, pedestrians, and obstacles challenging.
- Decreased concentration: Alcohol impairs a driver’s ability to concentrate and pay attention to the task at hand. This can lead to distraction and an inability to focus on the road ahead.
- Reduced inhibition: Intoxicated individuals may become more aggressive or reckless, leading to road rage incidents and aggressive driving behaviors.
- Poor decision-making: Alcohol can impair the ability to assess risk accurately, leading to more dangerous decisions, such as choosing to drive when it’s unsafe.
- Fatigue and drowsiness: Alcohol can exacerbate the effects of fatigue and drowsiness, making it more likely for drivers to fall asleep at the wheel or experience a reduced level of alertness.
- Decreased muscle control: Alcohol affects muscle control, making it difficult for drivers to maintain proper posture and control of the steering wheel, resulting in swerving or erratic driving.
All these impairments increase the risk of accidents and collisions when alcohol is involved. Drunk driving is a leading cause of road fatalities worldwide.
California Drunk Driving Laws
California law prohibits driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of:
- 0.08 percent or higher if you are 21 years old or older
- 0.01 percent or higher for anyone under the age of 21
- 0.01 percent or higher at any age for anyone on DUI probation
- 0.04 percent or higher for commercial driver’s license holders
- 0.04 percent or higher for persons driving a passenger for hire, such as Uber or Lyft
Drivers with a BAC lower than the legal limit may still feel the negative effects of alcohol and they can face DUI charges.
Personal Injury Claims vs. Criminal DUI Charges
Personal injury claims against drunk drivers and criminal DUI charges are two distinct legal processes that arise from the same incident involving a drunk driver.
A personal injury claim is a civil lawsuit filed by an injured party (the plaintiff) against the drunk driver (the defendant) seeking compensation for their injuries and damages.
A personal injury claim focuses on recovering financial damages such as medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, and property damage. The outcome can result in monetary compensation paid to the plaintiff by the defendant or their insurance company.
DUI charges are criminal in nature and are filed by the state or local government against the drunk driver. Criminal DUI charges punish the offender for violating laws related to impaired driving. Penalties for DUI convictions can include fines, license suspension, probation, community service, mandatory alcohol education programs, and even imprisonment.
In a personal injury claim, the burden of proof rests with the plaintiff. The plaintiff must demonstrate that the defendant’s negligence or recklessness, which includes driving under the influence, directly caused their injuries and damages. The standard of proof is typically lower in civil cases, requiring the plaintiff to prove their case by a preponderance of the evidence (meaning it’s more likely than not that the defendant’s actions caused the harm).
In a criminal DUI case, the burden of proof rests with the prosecution (the government). The prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant operated a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This higher standard of proof in a criminal case compared to a civil case requires a more convincing level of evidence.
A verdict in a criminal case might strengthen your civil claim, especially if the driver is found guilty of drunk driving. But even if the driver is not convicted, you may still hold the driver liable for the injuries they caused you.
Who Can You Sue in a Stockton Drunk Driving Accident?
If you’ve suffered injuries in a drunk driving accident, you may for pursue legal action against the responsible parties, such as:
The Drunk Driver
The primary party to sue in a California drunk driving accident is the intoxicated driver who caused the collision. California has strict laws against driving under the influence, and you can hold impaired drivers liable for the damages they cause.
Bars, Restaurants, or Social Hosts
In some states, establishments and social hosts (and adults who furnish liquor to guests) can share blame for accident injuries caused by an intoxicated person to whom they provided alcohol.
California law significantly shields vendors and social hosts liability in these cases. Its law explicitly states that furnishing alcohol “is not the proximate cause of injuries resulting from intoxication, but rather the consumption of alcoholic beverages Is the proximate cause of injuries inflicted upon another by an intoxicated person.”
However, if vendors or social hosts serve someone younger than the legal drinking age of 21, and the underage person causes a DUI accident, then you can hold the social host or vendor liable for the accident victim’s injuries.
If the drunk driver operated a vehicle as part of their job when the accident occurred, you may hold their employer partially responsible for the accident. This is called “vicarious liability.”
In some cases, third parties may contribute to the accident indirectly. For example, if a vehicle defect or road hazard played a role in the crash, you might have a claim against the manufacturer or responsible government agency.
What Compensation is Available in a Drunk Driving Accident in Stockton?
Compensation available in a drunk driving accident in Stockton can vary depending on various factors, including the severity of the accident, the extent of injuries or damages, and the insurance coverage of the parties involved.
Here is some compensation you may recover:
- Medical expenses: Victims of drunk driving accidents may be entitled to compensation for medical bills related to their injuries. This can include hospitalization, surgeries, rehabilitation, prescription medications, and ongoing medical care.
- Property damage: If your vehicle or other property was damaged in the accident, you can seek compensation for repairs or replacement.
- Lost earnings: If you had to miss work due to your injuries, you may recover compensation for the income you would have earned during that time.
- Pain and suffering: This category covers the physical and emotional distress you endured as a result of the accident, including pain, suffering, mental anguish, and loss of enjoyment of life.
- Wrongful death: If a loved one dies in a drunk driving accident, surviving family members recover compensation for funeral expenses, loss of financial support, and the emotional toll of losing a family member.
How can a Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer in Stockton Help Me?
A drunk driving accident lawyer from Roberts Personal Injury & Car Accident Lawyers can provide valuable assistance if you’ve been in an accident with a drunk driver. Here are several ways we can help you:
Our lawyers have experience handling cases related to drunk driving accidents. They understand the complexities of California’s laws and regulations regarding drunk driving, personal injury, and wrongful death claims.
Your lawyer will investigate the accident thoroughly, collecting evidence such as Stockton or San Joaquin County police reports, witness statements, and surveillance footage, if available. They will work to establish the drunk driver’s liability and build a strong case on your behalf. No police report? Learn how to file a police report in Stockton, CA.
Identifying liable parties
In addition to the drunk driver, other parties may be liable for your injuries or losses, such as a bar or establishment that served a minor who then caused an accident that injured you. Your attorney will try to identify other responsible parties and hold them accountable.
Your lawyer will help you assess the full extent of your damages, which can include medical bills, lost income, property damage, pain and suffering, and more. They will ensure that you pursue the maximum compensation you deserve.
Negotiating With insurance companies
Dealing with insurance companies can present challenges, especially when you’re recovering from an accident. Your attorney will handle all communications with insurance adjusters, working to negotiate a fair settlement that covers your expenses and losses.
Legal representation in court
If the insurance company refuses to accept a fair settlement through negotiations, our lawyers can take your case to court. We can represent your interests in front of a judge and jury, presenting your case and advocating for your rights.
A lawyer with Roberts Personal Injury & Car Accident Lawyers can provide emotional support and guide you through the legal process, helping you understand your options.
Statute of limitations
California has a limited timeframe within which you can file a personal injury lawsuit. Your lawyer will meet all deadlines and file your lawsuit within the statute of limitations.
Peace of mind
Having an experienced DUI accident attorney on your side allows you to focus on your recovery and well-being while they handle the legal aspects of your case. This peace of mind can prove valuable during a challenging time.
Contact a Stockton Drunk Driving Accident Attorney at Roberts Personal Injury & Car Accident Lawyers Today
DUI accidents can result in serious and life-threatening injuries that can have a lasting effect on both the accident victim and their family. If an accident with a drunk driver hurts you or a loved one, you need an experienced DUI accident attorney on your side to fight for the compensation you deserve, separate from any criminal proceedings the driver may face.
Our Office in Stockton, California
Roberts Personal Injury & Car Accident Lawyers
11 S San Joaquin St, Ste 610,
Stockton, CA, 95202