Temecula Drunk Driving Accident Lawyers
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Temecula Drunk Driving Accident Lawyers
At Gomez Trial Attorneys, we believe drunk driving is never excusable, and our Temecula neighbors who suffer injury or the loss of a loved one deserve capable, competent, and passionate representation in the pursuit of justice.
If you or a loved one suffered injuries in a Temecula drunk driving accident, we can help you pursue the compensation you deserve for your losses. We have helped many other victims of drunk drivers in the past.
Contact our Temecula personal injury lawyers at Gomez Trial Attorneys today for a free consultation with one of our compassionate drunk driving accident associates.
Alcohol and Driving in Temecula: A Deadly Mix
A cursory glance through the news is all it takes to understand the impact of drunk driving on the Temecula community.
Recently, a 20-year-old Temecula man convicted of killing a high school student in a drunk driving crash was sentenced to more than 10 years in prison on charges that included gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, DUI resulting in great bodily injury, and several sentence enhancers. The accident occurred when the man, driving a 2015 BMW 328i westbound on Rancho California Road, suddenly accelerated to speeds in excess of 55 miles per hour around a corner on the two-lane road. The posted speed on the road was 40 miles per hour.
Alcohol produces effects on the brain that impair the functions needed to operate a motor vehicle safely. The level of intoxication is determined by measuring the alcohol concentration in a volume of blood. In most states (California included), the limit at which one is considered legally impaired is 0.08 grams of alcohol per deciliter of blood. While that may be the legal limit to drive, impairment actually begins well before a person reaches that limit. In fact, it begins with the first drink.
Here is a glimpse of the functions that are impacted by alcohol, and at which point they become affected:
- At 0.02 blood alcohol concentration, which is equivalent to one drink, a person will experience a slight loss of judgment and an altered mood. He or she may begin to have difficulty multitasking and experience a decline in visual functions.
- At 0.05 BAC, the individual may begin to exhibit exaggerated behavior, difficulty focusing his or her eyes, and decreased alertness. His or her coordination will be reduced, there will be difficulty tracking moving targets, difficulty steering, and a reduced response in emergency driving situations.
- At 0.08 BAC, the person exhibits poor muscle coordination, which impacts his or her ability to balance, speak, and see. He or she likely will have a hard time exercising good judgment, self-control, and reasoning. There will be pronounced reductions in the ability to concentrate, short-term memory, and the ability to control speed. A reduction in information processing capacity will render the individual unable to detect signals or to visually search.
- At 0.10 BAC, there will be a clear deterioration of reaction time and control. Speech will be slurred, and there will be further reductions in coordination as well as slowed thinking. Drivers at this level of impairment will experience a reduced ability to maintain lane position and brake appropriately.
- At 0.15 BAC, drivers will experience a substantial loss of the ability to control the vehicle, pay attention to the task of driving, and the necessary visual and auditory processing skills needed for safe driving.
A driver with a BAC of 0.10 or higher is seven times more likely to be involved in a fatal accident than one who has not consumed alcoholic beverages. A driver who has a BAC of 0.15 or greater is 25 times more likely. It should be noted that the amount of alcohol you drink is not the only thing that influences your blood alcohol concentration level.
Other factors that may cause your BAC to rise more quickly or slowly than someone else’s include:
- Gender. Even if a man and woman both consumed an equal amount of alcohol, the woman’s BAC level is often higher than the man’s.
- Body size and weight. Even if a smaller person and a larger person consumed an equal amount of alcohol, the smaller person will generally have a higher BAC than the larger person.
- The type of alcohol you drink. A higher percentage of alcohol per volume will produce a higher BAC than an equally sized drink with a lower alcohol content.
- How long it took you to consume the drink. Chugging alcohol will increase your BAC faster than sipping it will.
- How much food you ate before or during the consumption of alcohol. Alcohol on an empty stomach produces a higher BAC.
- Certain medical conditions can also change the way your body metabolizes alcohol.
The Personal and Societal Costs of Drunk Driving in Temecula
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that drunk driving equates a societal cost of $44 billion a year, including expenses related to lost productivity, workplace losses, legal and court expenses, medical costs, emergency medical services, insurance administration, traffic congestion, and property damage. Temecula residents who have encountered a drunk driver know all too well how much damage a single irresponsible actor can cause.
Drunk driving can also be costly for the perpetrator. Some of the costs he or she will incur include vehicle towing, bail, court fees and fines upon conviction, the cost of random drug and alcohol screens if given probation, the cost of an ignition interlock device, the inability to work due to incarceration, and extraordinary increases in his or her insurance premiums.
Unfortunately, the economic and lifestyle costs are often the most extreme for victims of drunk driving, and can include the costs of medical treatment both for the initial injury as well as:
- Subsequent complications that arise with serious injuries such as brain and spinal cord injuries,
- A permanent disability that results in an injured person losing the ability to perform the job tasks they performed before the accident,
- Complete changes in every part of the person’s life
- Profound losses experienced by family members due to the death and disability of a loved one.
Who Is Most Likely to Drink and Drive in Temecula?
Anyone, in any age group, can cause an accident as a result of alcohol impairment. However, statistics indicate that certain people, in certain places and times, are more likely than others to drink and drive.
These statistics include:
- Male drunk drivers outnumber female drunk drivers at a ratio of 4:1.
- Males in the 21- to 24-year-old age demographic have the highest likelihood of anyone to be involved in an alcohol-related fatal collision. This group is followed by males aged 25-34.
- Those who are least likely to drink and drive are males and females over the age of 65.
- Those involved in alcohol-related fatal drunk driving collisions are four times more likely to have previous DUI convictions than drivers involved in fatal accidents who were not alcohol-impaired at the time of the crash.
- 56 percent of drunk driving accidents occur in urban areas.
- 69 percent of drunk driving accidents occur during the nighttime hours.
- 87 percent of drunk driving accidents occur on non-interstate roadways.
During the last 10 years in Temecula, hundreds of drivers received DUIs every year—during the last decade, the highest was 387, and the lowest was 195. During a bad year, we’ve seen as many as nine intoxicated drivers under 21 getting into wrecks, and as many as 47 total alcohol-involved crashes.
What Are We Doing About the Issue
While there are several states with higher rates of drunk drivers than California, this state has taken a strong stance against drunk driving by enacting stricter laws. Among which is the legal impairment limit for drivers under the age of 21: 0.01 BAC. What this means is that virtually any drinking and driving by those who are underage will be considered impaired.
One of the many reasons for setting the legal limit so low for young drivers is that they are already at high risk of being involved in a fatal accident simply because they are still relatively inexperienced drivers, and necessary skills for safe driving are still developing.
California also requires sober driving by instituting sobriety checkpoints, which you may often encounter around Temecula. While several states have banned sobriety checkpoints as a tool to curb drunk driving, the practice is permitted here. While a driver is legally able to avoid the checkpoint by turning around or onto another road before reaching it, drivers who are stopped must provide their name, license, and registration. If suspected of drunk driving, a driver can refuse to submit to a field sobriety test but—due to implied consent laws—cannot refuse to submit to a chemical test if requested without facing a license suspension.
Additionally, California has also begun a pilot program that requires those who have been convicted of DUI and have had past DUI convictions or who have been involved in drunk driving injury crashes to have an ignition interlock device installed on their vehicle. These devices require the individual to take a breathalyzer test before starting their vehicles.
If the test detects alcohol, the vehicle will not start. Depending on any previous convictions, the individual must keep the device installed anywhere from one to four years. First time DUI offenders in California face a four-month suspension of their driver’s license unless they agree to have an ignition interlock device on their vehicle for four months.
Your Right to Compensation for Your Injuries
While strict regulations and enforcement can reduce the number of drunk driving accidents occurring in the state, what about help for those who have been injured by a drunk driver in Temecula? California’s personal injury laws provide accident victims with a process of obtaining compensation for damages caused by the accident through a Temecula drunk driving accident lawsuit.
The damages you can recover through this type of action include:
- Medical expenses, including emergency treatment at the scene or in the emergency department; transport to the hospital by ambulance or air, diagnostic testing, physician services, surgical services, prescription medications, hospitalization, physical therapy, and rehabilitation. Those suffering permanent disability can also claim expenses such as crutches, wheelchairs, and modifications to the home or vehicle to accommodate the disability.
- Lost income due to being too injured to work or needing to miss work to attend injury-related doctor’s appointments.
- Loss of future earning capacity, if you can no longer perform the job-related tasks that you performed before the accident.
- The cost of repairing or replacing your vehicle.
- Non-economic damages, including physical pain and suffering, emotional distress, permanent disability, and loss of the enjoyment of life. Your spouse may also claim non-economic damages related to loss of consortium, which is the loss of physical intimacy and companionship that is sometimes suffered by those whose loved ones have experienced a serious injury such as a brain or spinal cord injury.
Temecula Drunk Driving Accident FAQs
As a center of Southern California winemaking, Temecula Valley benefits from the production and sale of alcoholic beverages. And yet, Temecula residents, workers, and visitors also consistently fall victim to a persistent downside of consumption of wine, beer, and spirits: drunk driving accidents.
Too many Temecula residents suffer injuries in alcohol-involved accidents every year, and some of them tragically perish in crashes caused by drunk drivers. Victims of those accidents, and family members of those lost, deserve compensation for the harm done to them.
Gomez Trial Attorneys can help. When injured drunk driving accident victims and grieving families seek our assistance, we work hard to answer their questions, serve their interests, and secure the maximum payment available for their injuries and losses.
Contact us online or call our Temecula office to speak with a lawyer who can answer your questions about receiving compensation for Temecula drunk driving accident injuries. You may also find the following answers to frequently asked questions about Temecula drunk driving crashes informative.
Who can I sue for a drunk driving accident in Temecula?
It depends on the circumstances of the accident, but in general, anyone whose careless, reckless, or intentionally harmful conduct caused the accident that hurt you may owe you damages for your injuries.
In a typical Temecula drunk driving accident case, that may include:
- The drunk driver, who virtually by definition put you in danger by getting behind the wheel while intoxicated;
- The drunk driver’s employer, if the drunk driver crashed a work vehicle;
- A bar, restaurant, or social host that provides alcohol to a minor who then causes a drunk driving crash;
- Other motorists or third parties whose dangerous decisions or actions played a role in the crash, even if they had nothing to do with the drunk driver.
These are just some examples. The important takeaway is that someone other than the drunk driver may also owe you compensation, which might enhance your chances of receiving the full amount you deserve.
The most reliable way to determine who may owe you damages for your injuries in a Temecula drunk driving accident is to speak with the team at Gomez Trial Attorneys.
Can I sue a Temecula drunk driver if he was convicted and jailed?
Yes, assuming the drunk driver was at fault for the accident, which is often the case.
The drunk driver’s criminal conviction and sentence do not alter your rights to seek compensation for your injuries and losses. In fact, the prosecution of the drunk driver may make it easier for your attorney to prove the driver’s liability for your damages.
It might seem strange to sue someone who is in jail, but in reality, most claims seeking compensation for drunk driving accident injuries are litigated and paid by the driver’s auto insurance carrier. So, even if the drunk driver himself has no money to pay you and while in jail at least, no way to earn it, his insurance may well cover at least some of your injuries and losses.
What if a Temecula drunk driver was not charged? Can I sue him then?
Yes, again assuming that he was at fault for your accident and injuries.
The decision to pursue a criminal conviction against a drunk driver belongs to the Riverside County District Attorney. Your rights do not depend on the outcome of that decision.
In deciding whether to prosecute someone, district attorneys consider factors that may have nothing to do with your lawyer’s ability to prove a case against that driver for damages. Most importantly, to obtain a conviction, the state must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Your lawyer, in contrast, needs only prove your case by a preponderance of the evidence. That’s the difference between showing someone definitely drove drunk, and that someone probably drove drunk, or at least negligently.
Here’s an example of how the Riverside County DA could decide not to prosecute, but your lawyer could still make a strong case against the drunk driver for damages.
California law outlaws driving after consuming alcohol in any amount that impairs the ability to drive. Drivers do not have to have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) above the legal limit of 0.08 percent to face drunk driving charges.
Nevertheless, the DA may decide it’s too difficult to prove the driver’s intoxication in your accident beyond a reasonable doubt because the police did not obtain a blood or breath test that shows intoxication above the legal limit. The absence of that test, however, might not stop your attorney from proving the driver was more likely intoxicated than not.
Do you handle DUI defense?
Gomez Trial Attorneys is a personal injury law firm. We represent victims of drunk driving accidents in legal actions seeking compensation from the parties who injured them. We do not defend drunk drivers against criminal charges for their conduct.
What damages can I receive for my Temecula drunk driving accident injuries?
Every drunk driving accident injury claim we handle has unique aspects.
In general, however, by taking legal action, our clients can seek compensation for:
- Medical expenses associated with treating their accident injuries in the past and future, including costs of emergency care, hospitalization, surgeries, doctor visits, physical therapy, and medication.
- Wages and income lost because of accident injuries, either because our client missed work while healing from those injuries, or because the injuries resulted in a disability that limits our client’s ability to work;
- Other accident and injury-related expenses, such as the cost of repairing or replacing damaged property, or of modifying a living space to accommodate a disability; and
- Pain and suffering endured due to the accident and injuries, including strain the injuries put on personal relationships and diminishment of our client’s quality of life.
In some cases, a California court may also award exemplary damages (also known as punitive damages) to punish the party at fault for our client’s injuries.
Gomez Trial Attorneys can never guarantee that a client will receive compensation after a Temecula drunk driving accident. We can, however, commit to leaving no stone unturned in our efforts to identify and pursue all sources of potential compensation for our client.
How long does it take to get paid for my Temecula drunk driving accident injuries?
The timeline for receiving compensation after getting hurt in a Temecula drunk driving accident can vary widely (assuming, of course, that you have the right to compensation, which is never guaranteed).
For losses covered by your own insurance, you may receive at least some money relatively quickly, so long as you comply with the provisions of your insurance policy in notifying your insurance carrier and taking any other necessary steps to secure payment. Speak with a skilled attorney if you have any questions about how to manage interactions with your own insurer.
For damages and losses you seek to recoup from the party at fault (and that party’s insurance company), however, the timeline depends on numerous factors that can be at least partially out of your control, such as:
- How long it takes for you to receive a reliable prognosis for recovering from your injuries, which is important information for your lawyers to have in deciding how much money to seek on your behalf;
- The timeline of any criminal prosecution of the drunk driver, which your lawyer may want to let run its course before filing any legal action on your behalf;
- The availability of evidence and the challenges associated with collecting it;
- The degree of dispute between the parties over who owes you compensation and how much money you should receive; and
- Scheduling and administrative considerations that are part of any legal process.
The best thing you can do to move this timeline along is to seek the advice of an experienced Temecula drunk driving accident injury lawyer as soon as possible after you get hurt, so that the process of securing compensation for you can begin right away.
If a Temecula drunk driver’s insurance company offers me a settlement right away, should I take it?
The decision to agree to a settlement of your drunk driving accident injury claim belongs to you. However, we strongly urge you not to agree to any settlement until you have discussed it with an experienced Temecula drunk driving accident injury lawyer, such as someone from Gomez Trial Attorneys.
The insurance company for a drunk driver often assumes that it will have to pay damages to victims of the accident its policyholder caused, and looks for ways to pay as little money as possible. One tactic insurers use to escape liability cheaply is to offer low settlements directly to injured victims, before they have attorneys advising them.
Insurance companies time these offers to arrive at moments when crash victims likely feel most vulnerable and financially strained, in hopes they will jump at the money without realizing it’s far less than what a lawyer could secure for them.
Do not make the mistake of agreeing to a settlement offered to you directly by a drunk driver’s insurance company. At Gomez Trial Attorneys, we frequently succeed in securing far more money for our clients than an insurance company ever offered to them directly.
How much does it cost to hire Gomez Trial Attorneys for a Temecula drunk driving accident injury case?
We offer all potential clients a free consultation with our team so we can answer your questions and help you explore your rights and options for seeking compensation after a Temecula drunk driving accident. You have nothing to lose, and potentially lots to gain, by reaching out to us.
We always represent our clients on a contingent fee basis. That means we only receive a fee if we secure payment for our clients’ injuries and losses. We do not charge by the hour, and we do not require an up-front payment.
We work this way because we understand the financial strain victims of Temecula drunk drivers come under after their accidents. By working on contingency, we make our services affordable to everyone.
Will I have to go to court and testify to get paid for my Temecula drunk driving accident injuries?
Probably not, but you should discuss this with an experienced Temecula drunk driving injury lawyer if you have concerns.
Most matters we handle at Gomez Trial Attorneys involving motor vehicle accidents get resolved through a settlement, which is an out of court agreement to resolve a claim through an agreed upon payment from the at fault party and/or its insurance company. It’s rare for our clients to have to testify in court in cases that settle, although they sometimes must give sworn testimony in a deposition, which is essentially an interview conducted by the other side’s lawyer.
Sometimes, however, our evaluation of a case leads us to conclude that taking a case to trial is the best course of action to secure maximum compensation for the harm our client suffered. In those cases, our injured client may need to testify in court.
Even if our clients do not have to testify in court in cases seeking compensation for their injuries, the DA may sometimes ask them to testify in a criminal proceeding against the drunk driver. It is up to them whether to agree.
In all events, before our clients give sworn testimony in any setting, the team at Gomez Trial Attorneys works hard to make sure they understand the process and that they feel as comfortable as possible answering questions about their case. Our sole interest is our clients’ interest.
Experienced Temecula Drunk Driving Accident Injury Lawyers
You deserve compensation for the injuries and losses you suffered because of a Temecula drunk driver’s reckless decisions. The Gomez Trial Attorneys team may be able to help you get it. Contact us online or call our Temecula office today for a free consultation to learn more about your rights and options.
To obtain a successful outcome to your Temecula drunk driving accident claim, you must prove the following elements in your case:
- The drunk driver owed you the duty of care to drive his or her motor vehicle safely and legally.
- The driver’s intoxication led to the breach in this owed duty of care.
- The breach resulted in the accident that caused your injuries, expenses, and life impacts.
Your attorney can look carefully at the details of your case to determine if there are any additional sources of liability and insurance resources that can be accessed to fairly compensate you.
Did You Suffer Injuries in a Temecula Drunk Driving Accident?
If you were injured in an accident that was caused by a drunk driver in or around Temecula, the experienced drunk driving accident lawyers at Gomez Trial Attorneys can guide you through your legal options. You can work toward recovering compensation for your injuries and help us keep Temecula safe by holding drunk drivers accountable.
For a free case evaluation, contact us online or call us at (619) 237-3490.
Gomez Trial Attorneys
27720 Jefferson Avenue
Temecula, CA 92590
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