A pedestrian lost his life this April while walking in a bike lane in Oceanside. The man in his late 60s was hit by a car that had swerved into him, whose driver was allegedly drunk. That driver now faces multiple charges, including felony drunk driving and vehicular manslaughter. Because a child was in his car, he also faces prosecution for felony child endangerment.
The driver remained at the scene after the wreck, waiting for police to arrive, while the victim was flown to a local hospital where he died of his injuries.
This accident underscores the dangers posed by drunk drivers. In 2013 alone, 1,197 people were killed in alcohol-related collisions on California roads, and more than 23,000 people were injured. These statistics do not take into account the many additional people hurt or killed in accidents involving prescription drugs or illegal narcotics.
Victims of drunk driving accidents and their families have rights under California law. Injury victims are often able to recover compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering if they can prove that the accident was the fault of the intoxicated driver. After fatal accidents, families often can recover funeral expenses and other costs from the responsible party through wrongful death suits. In particularly egregious cases, however, personal injury lawsuits involving drunk driving accidents may also include claims for punitive damages.
Punitive damages are not intended to compensate a victim or their family, but rather to punish the driver responsible for the accident and help prevent others from taking the same risks in the future. These awards can go a long way toward helping a family feel that a drunk driver has been held accountable for his actions.
If you or a family member has been injured by an intoxicated driver, you may have a viable personal injury or wrongful death claim. Speak with the San Diego auto accident attorneys at Thorsnes Bartolotta McGuire to learn about your legal options.