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It may not seem like much—about 60 arrests and 15 collisions a year—but for a town our size, El Centro has a bad DUI problem. And because of how alcohol impairs drivers, El Centro’s drunk driving accidents can cause far worse damage than other car crashes. Drunk drivers are more likely to speed, less likely to brake as quickly, and not coordinated enough to swerve out of the way of the people in their paths.
If you suffered injuries in a drunk driving accident, an experienced El Centro Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer can help you seek the compensation you deserve. Contact Gomez Trial Attorneys today to learn more about your legal right to compensation following a drunk driving accident.
At Gomez Trial Attorneys, we have substantial experience with many types of personal injury claims, including drunk driving accident claims in the El Centro area. While we cannot guarantee the results of any claim, many of our past clients have found that having an attorney on their side substantially increases the compensation they ultimately receive for their injuries. We have helped clients identify additional parties who share liability for their accidents, worked to collect evidence, and taken over negotiations with insurance companies following many types of accidents. We want to hear from you and see what we can do to help.
Every year, more than a thousand people in California lose their lives in drunk driving accidents. Thousands more suffer injuries that cause them limitations for the rest of their lives. Despite that, around 1.8 percent of California citizens admit to getting behind the wheel after drinking too much.
California has instituted stringent measures over the past several years to decrease drunk driving and drunk driving accidents, including sobriety checkpoints, stringent laws regarding alcohol use and driving, and alcohol screening and interventions.
Unfortunately, those measures do not eliminate drunk drivers on the roads. Just one drink can substantially impact a driver’s ability to safely control their vehicle, including making it difficult for a driver to see clearly or impairing their decision-making.
The drunk driver’s decision to get behind the wheel, unfortunately, carries serious consequences. Drunk driving accidents often leave the victims with serious injuries, some of which cause lifelong limitations.
Living with traumatic brain injury rarely looks like it does in the movies. Victims usually don’t just have a short-term loss of memories of the past, which typically gets resolved within the span of the movie. While traumatic brain injuries do cause significant memory issues in many victims, it can also cause permanent short-term and long-term memory challenges.
Victims may also struggle with focus or concentration, making it difficult for them to complete familiar tasks. Traumatic brain injuries can also cause sleep disturbances or lead to changes in sensory perception, including tunnel vision or ringing in the ears (tinnitus). Victims may also suffer from challenges regulating their emotions, including having unexpected mood swings or extreme reactions to normal stimuli.
All of these challenges can make it incredibly difficult for victims of traumatic brain injury to return to their normal jobs. Many, especially those who struggle with impulse control, may need lifelong care from a caregiver or aide. Others may simply have lost a cognitive skill that makes it impossible to return to their former professions: they may lose creativity, problem-solving ability, or the ability to manage the emotional turmoil of dealing with customers or office politics as a result of their injuries.
Some victims recover some of their normal capacity with time. Traumatic brain injury recovery, however, does not come quickly; many victims report that even with a mild traumatic brain injury, they still experience symptoms more than a year after the initial injury.
Any auto accident involves a significant amount of force, which can cause serious damage to the spinal cord. Damage becomes more likely if the victim strikes the spinal cord directly in the accident. Drunk drivers, in particular, may fail to reduce their speed even when an accident is imminent. Slowed reflexes may mean that drunk drivers have trouble hitting the brakes or steering away from a potential accident, leading to a more substantial amount of force than necessary on the victim of the accident.
Victims with an incomplete spinal cord injury—an injury that does not go all the way through the spinal cord—may lose some mobility, function, and feeling below the site of the injury, not only in the limbs, but also in organs below the injury. Victims with a complete spinal cord injury, on the other hand, may permanently lose all mobility and a great deal of (or all) sensation below the site of the injury.
A spinal cord injury can transform a victim’s entire life. Many victims cannot return to their previous jobs, especially if they worked in physically-intensive positions. Not only that, victims with spinal cord injuries often accumulate significant, lifelong medical expenses. These expenses include not just the cost of a wheelchair, but the ongoing cost of therapy and treatment for their injuries and the complications and conditions associated with them.
In a car accident, the force of the accident can rupture a gas tank or expose other flammable liquids in the vehicle to enough heat to cause the vehicle to burst into flames. Burn victims often suffer severe pain, but may also face other significant challenges. Scarring can be a significant blow to many individuals’ self-esteem, especially when they permanently change the victim’s appearance. Scarring near joints can also cause decreased mobility in the injured limbs.
Burn victims also suffer a high rate of complications due to their injuries: normally, the skin provides a protective layer that prevents the introduction of dangerous bacteria into the body. A burn strips that protection away, leaving many victims prone to infection.
Amputations can occur at the time of the accident, as a sharp object or blunt force severs a limb completely. Sometimes, however, the victim may require an amputation days or even weeks after the accidents itself. Doctors may determine that a limb sustained too much damage to repair. Tissue may die as a result of decreased blood flow, ultimately leading to the need for amputation.
Amputation involves the removal of a limb, often due to substantial injury to that limb in an accident. Victims may lose arms or legs to a car accident. After the amputation, victims may need follow-up surgeries to revise the stump and increase comfort in their prosthesis. Prosthetic devices can help restore some normal function, including making it possible for a leg amputee to walk again; however, those devices cannot provide the same function as a biological limb.
Amputees may need substantial physical and occupational therapy to learn how to function with their prosthetics or with the limitations that come with a missing limb. Prosthetic devices also require regular replacement: an amputee can expect to need to replace the original prosthetic within a year, as the shape of the stump changes, while future prosthetics may require replacement approximately every three to five years.
If you or a loved one has been an El Centro drunk driving accident, get in touch with an experienced personal injury attorney. An attorney can offer vital guidance concerning the compensation you deserve and how to seek it after an accident.
Most often in a drunk driving accident, the drunk driver bears liability for the accident. The drunk driver bears liability for their poor decisions, including the decision to get behind the wheel after consuming substantial quantities of alcohol.
That driver may, however, share liability with other parties, including:
Identifying all the parties that contributed to your accident can make a big difference in the compensation you ultimately receive. You can file a personal injury claim against each party that contributes to an accident. Consult an attorney to learn more about who may have contributed to your accident and how it may impact the compensation you can seek.
No attorney can fully predict the amount of compensation you will receive after a drunk driving accident. Several factors, including what exactly caused your accident and the extent of the insurance policies that cover any liable parties, can affect your compensation. California drivers who carry minimum liability insurance, for example, may have policies that will pay out just $15,000 in protection for injuries sustained in a drunk driving accident. Other policies, including policies that cover commercial drivers, Uber and Lyft drivers, and auto manufacturers, may provide higher levels of compensation.
Following an auto accident in El Centro, most victims claim:
An attorney can help you calculate what damages you should seek after an El Centro drunk driving accident. Keep in mind that if the insurance company offers you a settlement immediately after the accident, while it may look attractive, it may not provide the compensation you really deserve for your injuries and your expenses. Consult Gomez Trial Attorneys before accepting a settlement offer.
Despite years of public health campaigns and stiff criminal laws, drunk driving continues to cause devastation in El Centro and throughout the nation. Victims of drunk driving accidents suffer severe injuries that inflict massive physical, emotional, and financial pain. Families of victims tragically killed by drunk drivers endure immeasurable suffering and loss. They deserve justice and compensation.
Below we answer questions we often receive about the legal aspects of holding drunk drivers and others accountable for the harm they cause. For answers to specific questions about an El Centro drunk driving accident that has devastated your life, contact an experienced drunk driving accident injury lawyer at Gomez Trial Attorneys today.
Every case is different, but in most El Centro drunk driving accidents, the drunk driver receives a significant amount of the blame. At the very least, the drunk driver’s reckless, dangerous decision to get behind the wheel constitutes a form of negligence, which, under California law, makes the drunk driver legally liable for any harm those actions cause.
However, this does not mean, that the drunk driver is the only party at-fault for the accident that injured you or a loved one.
Others may also have legal responsibility for the damage the accident inflicted, including (for example):
The job of an experienced El Centro drunk driving accident injury lawyer often involves exploring the facts and circumstances of an accident to identify all parties who may have legal liability to the accident victims. By doing this, lawyers ensure that any legal action on behalf of victims seeks compensation from as many sources as the law allows, which gives clients the best chance of recovering as much money as possible for their injuries and losses.
If you or a loved one is injured or otherwise harmed in an accident, you can only recover damages if the accident caused your injuries or harm. You cannot receive compensation if they stem from some other cause or are pre-existing.
California is a fault state for car and other vehicle accidents. That means the party that causes the accident is responsible for damage compensation to people injured by the accident. Injured parties can approach the at-fault driver’s insurance company or bring an El Centro drunk driving accident lawsuit in civil court.
Insurance (financial responsibility) is required of all vehicles operated or parked on California roads. The owner must obtain liability insurance of $15,000 for injury or death to one person, $30,000 for injury or death to more than one person, and $5,000 for any property damage.
Injured people can seek damage compensation in the following categories:
Victims of a drunk driving accident often ask what their claim is worth. It’s a natural and understandable question. But, there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all claim.
Payments for injury claims are based on the amount, extent, and nature of a victim’s injuries. So the amount any specific person receives depends on the nature of their injuries and the impact those injuries have on their lives.
For all economic damage categories, such as medical expenses, time off work, and personal property damage, the amount of the claim is determined based on what those damages are expected to cost you. You are compensated for the costs to you.
So, for example, you (or your attorney) can add up all the medical expenses, wages from work you’ve lost, and personal property damage to determine your economic damages.
If you are expected to need medical treatment in the future for the injuries you sustained as a result of the accident, attorneys can obtain expert opinions both on the standard treatment for the injuries and on the expected cost. These forecasts are used to derive a figure for damage compensation.
Wages lost from work claims are determined by multiplying your wages by the amount of time you needed to take off. Here, too, if time off work is required in the future, expert testimony is used to forecast the likely wages that will be lost as a result of the future time off.
If an injured worker can’t return to a former occupation, our lawyers may seek expert testimony to establish that fact and to estimate the lifetime value of their earnings.
Pain and suffering damages are determined quite differently. For one thing, pain and suffering—unlike a medical bill—doesn’t come with a price tag. It isn’t always easy to make a pain and suffering determination for that reason—the amount of pain and suffering a victim undergoes is somewhat subjective.
A catastrophic injury that will never fully heal and causes a significant impact on the victim’s life, for example, is likely to receive a larger figure.
Examples of catastrophic injuries are spinal cord injuries (SCIs) or traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). Both can render victims unable to perform the activities of daily life, such as walking or dressing. They may experience paralysis, either partly or completely. As a result, they may need constant care for the rest of their lives.
In addition to receiving a higher multiplier, of course, victims of catastrophic accidents will also require higher levels of medical care and may not work again, so they will need the lifetime value of earnings. All of these make their overall damage compensation much higher than that of someone with a more minor injury, such as a broken arm.
In other words, damage compensation for a catastrophic injury may total in the millions, but in the low thousands for a more minor injury.
Losing a loved one in a drunk driving accident is one of the most painful and traumatic experiences one can go through. You may feel loss, grief, and anger at the drunk driver.
While damage compensation cannot assuage grief, it can offer help in staying financially afloat after an accident. In fact, California law provides a way for family members to receive damage compensation for a loved one’s death, if the loved one could have pursued an El Centro drunk driving accident claim if they’d lived. It is called a wrongful death suit.
Only certain relatives can pursue a wrongful death claim. They are:
The compensation can include:
After an accident involving a drunk driver, you need to secure your own safety as the first priority.
Move as quickly as possible to a safe location, out of traffic. Call 911 as soon as possible. Remain in your car until law enforcement arrives.
If you sustained serious injuries, the emergency medical technicians will transport you to a hospital. If they don’t see a need for emergency transport, stay on the scene until law enforcement arrives. They will talk to all parties concerned and indicate when you can leave.
If a driver is noticeably drunk, stay at a safe distance from them until law enforcement arrives. Drunk drivers can exhibit erratic behavior, including trying to get in the car and drive again or attempting to evade law enforcement.
Do not accuse them or attempt to intervene in what they do.
Law enforcement will talk to all drivers, survey the scene, and issue a crash report. It’s highly important to get a copy of the crash report, and it’s valuable evidence of how the accident occurred and what the officer saw.
When the officer talks to you, give a complete accounting of what you experienced. If you noticed the other driver seemed drunk or under the influence of substances, mention it. Law enforcement can administer a chemical test or field sobriety tests to determine inebriation.
During this time, it’s very important to get as much evidence as possible. If you have a smartphone, take pictures of the vehicles, the accident scene, and anything else that could shed light on how the accident occurred, such as skid marks, missing signs, and so forth.
If you don’t have a smartphone, take notes on what happened as you remember it. Memories can fade. Take notes while your memory is still fresh.
Get the contact information from the other drivers, including name, e-mail, and insurance information.
If there are eyewitnesses, talk to them. Get their contact information as well (except for insurance information).
As soon as law enforcement indicates you can leave, do so, driving safely (or calling family members, friends, or other transport to pick you up).
See a doctor as soon as possible. Car accidents can cause injuries that you might not see or feel for a while. A doctor needs to check you out thoroughly.
Follow all doctor’s recommendations to the letter. If they suggest physical therapy or prescription medication, for example, make appointments and fill and take the medication. This is primarily for your health. But insurance companies can also use evidence of your not following doctor’s recommendations to argue you were not injured as severely as your claim indicates.
Keep all records of medical treatment and diagnosis related to the accident. It’s important evidence in getting compensation for your injuries.
If you have any other questions or need assistance, contact an experienced El Centro drunk driving accident lawyer.
If you suffered serious injuries in an El Centro drunk driving accident, an attorney can help. Contact Gomez Trial Attorneys today at (619) 237-3490 for your free consultation and learn more about your legal rights following a drunk driving accident.
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Gomez Trial Attorneys
2299 West Adams Avenue, Suite 102
El Centro, CA 92243
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