What If I Was Injured in an Accident by a Drunk Driver?
Despite being aware of the risks of drunk driving, drunk driving accidents continue to happen each year. Alcohol affects the brain in multiple ways which can impair driving in several ways. When a drunk driving accident does happen, the effects can be severe. If you suffered serious injuries or the loss of a loved one from a drunk driver, you could be eligible for compensation. Reach out to a Los Angeles car accident lawyer to learn more.
How Alcohol Impairs Driving
The effects of alcohol on driving vary based on how much alcohol the person consumes. For driving, alcohol is measured by blood alcohol concentration (BAC), with 0.08 BAC being the legal limit. Anyone who drives with a BAC of 0.08 or higher in California can be charged with driving under the influence.
At a BAC of 0.02, the person is just starting to feel the initial effects of alcohol. This might feel like relaxation, minor loss of judgment, and improved mood. Some people may feel these effects stronger than others depending on their tolerance to alcohol. In terms of driving, this BAC level may show an effect on:
- Slower tracking of moving objects with their eyes
- Greater difficulty with multi-tasking
Since driving is a major multi-tasking activity that requires checking mirrors, steering, accelerating, braking, and watching the road, it is no wonder alcohol impairs driving. Once a BAC level of 0.05 is reached, the person often starts experiencing impaired judgment and decreased alertness. Driving is impacted by decreased coordination, problems with steering, and slower eye-tracking of objects on the road.
When the BAC level of 0.08 is reached, a driver is considered to be engaging in drunk driving. At this point, the person may feel difficulty controlling their muscles, impaired reasoning, and less self-control. They may act more impulsively. Concentration, memory, information processing, and perception all become impaired. This leads to:
- Decreased reaction time to changes on the road
- Limited hearing and vision
- Balance problems
- Slurred speech
- Problems with visual searching
- Difficulty with controlling the vehicle speed
- Less likely to notice last-minute changes
By the time a BAC level of 0.10 is reached, driving becomes extremely dangerous. A person at this level will struggle significantly with reaction time, control of the vehicle, and coordination. They might not be able to stay in the correct driving lane and may tend to fail to hit the brakes on time.
Loss of balance, decreased muscle control, impaired attention, and visual processing skills all become significantly impaired at a BAC level of 0.15 or higher. A car accident is almost always inevitable when driving at this level.
Steps to Take After a Drunk Driving Accident
There are important legal steps you can take if you suffered injuries from a drunk driving accident. If you were hit by a drunk driver, taking these car accident steps is crucial for securing compensation for your injuries and other damages. Compensation could be used to cover your medical bills, vehicle damages, and lost wages from missed work.
The most important first step to take is to make sure you and others are safe from harm. Oncoming traffic, shattered glass, fires, and corrosive chemicals can all cause further damage to you and others. Call 911 if anyone was injured. Even if no one was injured, calling 911 for the police might be necessary if property damages are severe and the other driver is drunk.
Having a police report copy will be essential for your car accident claim if you choose to file one. Your car accident claim will include details and evidence of the accident and is the first step to obtaining compensation. The more information and evidence you submit, the greater your chances of receiving compensation. To do this, be sure to:
- Collect the other driver’s basic contact and auto insurance information
- Take pictures of your injuries, vehicle damages, and the accident scene
- Write down details of where, when, and how the accident happened
- Write down witness names and statements
- Obtain copies of your medical records if you were injured
Be cautious about approaching the other driver for information if they are drunk or acting strange. You may want to wait for the police to arrive before collecting the drunk driver’s information. They will be able to manage the situation in a safe manner. Once you have all the information you need, submit your car accident claim with the auto insurance company.
Avoid the common mistake of admitting fault by apologizing or claiming guilt. This could prevent you from being compensated. Answer follow-up questions from the insurance company about your claim cautiously. Be wary of signing forms you do not fully understand. Consider contacting a Los Angeles car accident lawyer to consult with first, before answering questions or signing forms.
The last thing you want to do is accidentally sign away or hurt your chances of the compensation you need to recover. An experienced lawyer can help you find ways to maximize your compensation. With drunk driving accidents specifically, you might be eligible for additional compensation through:
- Pain and suffering damages
- Punitive damages that punish drivers for illegal or reckless behavior
- Emotional distress
- Lost earning capacity
- Future medical bills
- Loss of consortium for severe injuries or the loss of a loved one
- Wrongful death
- Funeral costs
- Car repair costs
Proving each of these damages involves collecting supporting documents like medical records and bill statements. The hardest part to prove is negligence. Your lawyer can help you figure out how to prove the other driver was driving under the influence. This may involve different types of evidence like a blood alcohol test. A lawyer can also represent you in court if the claim moves to a personal injury trial.
Car Accident Attorney in Los Angeles
Dealing with the aftermath of a drunk driving accident can be frustrating. You may not have to go through the complicated legal steps alone. Do not hesitate to call the Law Offices of Jennie Levin by dialing (323) 951-1188 to speak with a California accident lawyer for a free consultation today. Our legal team might be able to help you obtain significant compensation for your medical expenses, pain and suffering, and lost wages. We serve clients in Los Angeles, California.