Why a Drunk Driver May Not Always Be at Fault for a California Car Accident
A drunk driver is only liable for car accidents in California under certain circumstances.
It seems like an obvious conclusion: if you are in an accident with a drunk driver, that driver should be responsible for your losses. After all, driving under the influence of alcohol (or drugs) is against the law in California — shouldn’t that be enough to make them completely responsible for whatever injuries or damages you have suffered?
Unfortunately, under California law, the answer is no. A drunk driver is not automatically at fault for a car accident. According to a Beverly Hills personal injury lawyer, the only way that a drunk driver will be held liable for your losses is if he or she did something illegal in addition to driving under the influence.
In California, a person is at fault for a car accident when: (1) he or she drove a vehicle and (2) while driving, committed an illegal act or failed to perform a legal duty (3) that resulted in a physical injury or property damage to another person.
While drunk driving is illegal under California law, it is not enough to hold a driver responsible for an accident. As a Beverly Hills personal injury lawyer can explain, a drunk or high driver must have done something else that was negligent or unlawful on top of driving under the influence. This could be any number of things, such as violating a California traffic law (perhaps by crossing a double yellow line, or running a red light), driving recklessly, or engaging in distracted driving.
A skilled Beverly Hills personal injury lawyer can examine the facts of a case to determine if there were any factors present that may lead to liability for the driver who was under the influence at the time of the accident. This is particularly important because California has what is known as comparative negligence. This concept allows more than one person to be at fault for an accident, and can reduce an injured victim’s recovery if he or she was partially to blame for the accident. It may also allow a person who was partially at fault — such as a drunk driver — to recover for an accident. For example, if one driver in a car accident was driving drunk but the second driver was checking his cell phone when the collision occurred, then both parties share a portion of the fault for the accident. An experienced Beverly Hills personal injury lawyer can explain how recovery may be affected in cases where both drivers were at fault in an accident.
While car accident cases involving drunk drivers may appear to be straightforward, they can actually be complex given these factors. A seasoned Beverly Hills personal injury lawyer can help an injured party navigate the pitfalls associated with recovering in cases involving drunk drivers, ensuring the best possible outcome.
The attorneys of Perlmutter & Pourshalimi are committed to helping their clients recover for car accidents and other types of personal injury cases. We represent clients in Beverly Hills and the surrounding areas, and are dedicated to standing beside our clients throughout the process. Contact our office today at 310-295-2236 or firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a free initial consultation with a Beverly Hills personal injury lawyer.