The realities of drunk driving incidents in San Francisco are truly grave. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that over 867 out of the total 3000 vehicular deaths in the state of California are a direct result of drunk driving.
Moreover, impaired driving causes far more accidents that result in permanent injuries to innocent bystanders. They become physically disabled, suffer through extreme mental trauma, and most even require extensive rehabilitation processes before they can resume their everyday lives.
Drunk driving disrupts entire families, requiring people to work hard to help their loved ones recover. Some are even forced through the misery and grief of losing a family member. On the other hand, the legal repercussions of drunk driving are terrible too.
Legal Consequences for Drunk Driving in San Francisco
If you’re arrested for a DUI in San Francisco, you will probably spend some time at a country jail before being released on your own recognizance or posted bond. Furthermore, if you’re convicted, that only means more jail time, fines, penalties, and the loss of your driving privileges.
San Francisco DUI Penalties
When someone is placed under arrest for a drunk driving incident in San Francisco, they are charged with not one but two criminal offenses;
- Driving under alcoholic influence.
- Driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of more than 0.08.
The penalty for these charges depends on the intensity of the circumstances. Moreover, such incidents’ frequency also plays a significant role when your final conviction is being decided. This means that people who have had multiple DUI offenses within the past five years will face harsher punishment than those convicted for the first time.
Aggravated circumstances like refusal to take the mandatory chemical tests, driving with a BAC of more than 0.15, child endangerment, or an incident involving death will also cause penalties to be stiffer.
It is a driver’s responsibility to maneuver his vehicle safely on the roads and follow traffic laws. They need to be vigilant in avoiding DUIs, or any other situation that could threaten other drivers or innocent bystanders. Unfortunately, not every driver takes this responsibility seriously, and drunk driving incidents only increase in San Francisco.
These incidents are extremely hazardous as drunken people have slowed-down reflexes and can cause more significant damage. If a drunk driver has hit you, you will probably be contacted by their insurance company immediately. They are looking to settle with a minimal amount as soon as possible and try to rush the process.
Don’t let them hurry you along, though. The impact of a DUI can be severely damaging to a person’s physical and mental health. You deserve to be fairly compensated for all the injuries and damages caused, and a personal injuries attorney in San Francisco can handle this process best for you.
What to Do If a Drunk Driver Hits You in San Francisco?
Drunk driving is illegal in San Francisco, as it all across the country. When a person is caught driving in an impaired state, they face serious criminal charges even if nobody was hurt. However, if someone did get injured due to their carelessness, the convictions are even stricter.
If a drunk driver has hit you, you can (and should) file for compensation. The laws behind these charges and settlements are quite complex, and you will fare better with an attorney by your side, guiding you through the entire process.
Who Is Charged to Be at Fault in a DUI?
While the drunk driver will be charged for driving under the influence, as it is illegal in San Francisco, the accident blame doesn’t automatically fall on them. To be at fault for the accident, it must be proven that the driver did something negligent or dangerous, which caused it. Your attorney will help you acquire evidence that;
- The driver was present at the time of the crash.
- They did something illegal (drinking and driving) and breached their duty of care on the roads.
- The damage you incurred (to your life or property) resulted from their negligent actions.
As you rest and recover from the accidents injuries and shock, your personal injuries attorney will be conducting thorough investigations. They will speak to any eyewitnesses, acquire video footage through CCTV’s of the neighborhood and collect all valid documentation. All of this evidence will then be presented persuasively to prove that the other party was under the influence and directly responsible for the accident.
Involving Doctors & The Police
After a DUI accident, you are obligated to report to the local authorities immediately. Call 911 and follow the medical personnel’s instructions to tend to your injuries while you wait for help to arrive. If you’re able to, collect any possible evidence from the scene of the crash. Take pictures and videos of the area and see if there is anything that can serve as proof that the driver is drunk. Don’t let anybody leave the scene of the accident before the police arrive.
P.S. Be sure to take care not to accuse anybody of anything before you’ve had a chance to talk to your personal injuries attorney in San Francisco.
Injuries as a result of an accident might not be apparent at first. It is always advisable to visit the E.R. and get a thorough look over to ensure your best health. not only will these hospital visits be essential to your health, but they can also strengthen your case in the court of law. According to the San Francisco law, you will need to present noted proof of any injuries sustained and the hospital treatment given before you can receive compensation for it.
Police reports from the day of the incident will provide weightage to your case as well. So, be sure to save all the paperwork, including your medical records, the police reports, and all communications held with the insurance company. It will also help you put a dollar value on your injury claim.
Why do I Need a Personal Injury Attorney for a DUI Accident?
It can be quite a tedious process to hold someone responsible for a DUI, and even more so when you are injured yourself and trying to recover. Even if the other party is criminally charged for impaired driving, their insurance company will do its best to give you the runaround to avoid paying up. You might even have to deal with the driver headed to jail and find your injuries being swept to the side.
In such circumstances, your personal injury attorney in San Francisco will come to your aid. They will;
- Investigate the scene of the crash.
- Conduct interviews and collect eyewitnesses.
- Apply for compensation from the insurance company.
- Manage all interactions and meetings.
- Help you get your vehicle repairs paid.
- Get your medical bills paid.
- Reduce your stress and let you focus on healing.
- Handle your case in court and serve as your legal representation.
Protection from the Insurance Adjuster
Right after a DUI incident, you will probably receive a call from an insurance company representative, offering you a quick settlement. While it may seem attractive to accept the payout instead of prolonging your case, you should beware. This is a typical form of maneuver used by insurance companies to sign away your fundamental compensation rights for a small sum of money. It might not even be enough to cover your medical expenses and repairs!
Don’t Settle Right Away
It would be best if you were diligent in not signing anything before talking to your legal representative from Phoong Law Corp. The total costs of your injuries, missed days at work, and vehicle repairs are likely to be relatively high, and the other party is legally required to cover it. This initial settlement will be a lowball offer that will shift the burden of these expenses on your bank account. Your personal injuries attorney will make sure this doesn’t happen.
Even if you are considering a settlement, keep in mind the amount of time you have to file a claim. This will protect you in the case that the other party refuses your terms of the settlement, as you’ll still have protection from the courts.
In San Francisco, you will have a time of 2 years from the date of the accident to file a personal injury claim. This is called the statute of limitations, and you will not be able to lay any compensation claims once this time has passed.
Who Pays for My Injuries in a DUI Accident?
When you file a claim of compensation caused by a DUI, the other party’s insurance company will be required to provide it. You can demand compensation for your medical bills, psychological trauma requiring appointments with your therapist, lost wages, pain, suffering, etc.
Your own insurance company might cover these expenses as well. If your insurance policy includes ‘med pay,’ they will be viable to cover your medical costs.
Liability of Establishments
Many people wonder if the bar or any other establishment can be held responsible for over-serving an already intoxicated customer and liable for the injuries incurred. This is, in fact, possible, and these are called dram shop laws in California.
Dram shop laws are included in California’s statutes; however, they are only limited to San Francisco. Therefore, if you’ve been a victim of a drunk driver in San Francisco, you can hold the establishment responsible. Keep in mind that it only applies if the driver is a minor.
Types of Damages
Before settling, you need to understand the compensations you’re entitled to. If you’ve been a victim of a DUI, you are likely owed compensation called damages. These damages are monetary awards offered to victims to take care of their medical requirements and other losses. The amount awarded depends on your specific losses.
Here are the different types of damages, apart from medical bills and vehicle repairs that you can seek out;
- Lost wages – any money lost as a result of the injured party unable to return to work.
- Pain and suffering – numerous non-financial damages like mental trauma requiring the services of a therapist.
- Punitive damages – if the drunk driver has faced prior DUIs or a BAC above the legal limit, you can apply for punitive damages, which amount to almost ten times more than the rest.
Passengers are at Risk in DUI Accidents Too
If you were a passenger in a car involved in a DUI, you could sue the intoxicant driver as well. This is particularly true for people who opt to ride-share and are unaware of the driver’s impaired state.
Under California law, any injuries faced by the passenger are liable to be compensated as well. However, the amount you receive will vary depending on your circumstances. It may be significantly reduced if you were aware of the driver’s drunkenness and got in the car anyway. If you provided the alcohol, your compensation claim might lose its worth.
At the End
As you can see, the rulings and legal requirements required before you receive your compensation are quite complicated. It is an exhaustive process, trying to collect the necessary evidence, present it convincingly, debate the best terms of settlement or even fight the legal battle in court. Trying to manage all this while already injured and dealing with the mental stress of a DUI is no easy feat.
By acquiring a personal injury attorney’s services in San Francisco, you ensure that this entire process is streamlined and get your deserved compensation ASAP. There is nobody who does it better than Anh Phoong!
Phoong Law Corp is dedicated to providing you all the services you may need after a car accident. Our expert legal representatives will manage every part of the legal process with great care and legal expertise, so you can focus on recovering. Moreover, we offer a zero fee warranty. This eliminates the need to pay out of pocket, as you will only be charged after we win.