Who is Liable for a Drunk Driving Accident in CA?

December 24, 2015 | Category: Car Accidents

All states hold drivers criminally accountable when they drive under the influence of alcohol. When that behavior results in an accident, however, questions can arise pertaining to liability for the resulting injuries and other damages. Across the country, the law continues to evolve so that suppliers of intoxicating substances can often be implicated in drunk driving accidents.

Laws addressing the extent of liability assigned to businesses or individuals that serve liquor to obviously-intoxicated drinkers are known as dram shop laws, and these laws are state-specific. A consultation with an experienced Los Angeles car accident attorney is a good way for victims of California DUI accidents to learn their rights.

California Dram Shop Laws can be Confusing

Section 25602 of the CA Business and Professions Code can be confusing, largely because this law recognizes a degree of criminal elements to purveyors of alcohol in some situations, but it does not generally recognize civil liability.

To clarify, the law specifically states that a furnisher of alcoholic beverages to any habitual or common drunkard or to any obviously intoxicated person is guilty of a misdemeanor. However, the very next paragraph does not consider the same individuals to be civilly liable to any individuals who suffer injuries caused by drunk drivers. Along the same lines, the estates of victims cannot include sellers in wrongful death actions in the event of fatalities.

Of course, no law seems complete without exceptions, and the California dram shop law includes very specific exception when alcohol is furnished to minors:

  • The minor must be obviously-intoxicated when the alcohol is furnished, and
  • The furnishing of alcohol must be the proximate cause of the personal injury or death of the victim.

The Early Steps After a DUI Accident can Make a Difference

When drunk driving is associated with an accident, insurance claims and lawsuits can be complicated, largely because they require evidence that shows that the negligent driver's blood alcohol content exceeds the legal level (0.08 percent). Victims or witnesses who can remain at the accident scene can help by letting police know about signs of drunk driving, such as an open bottle in the vehicle, alcohol on the breath or observations of swerving or other behaviors prior to the collision. Comments like these can encourage police to perform blood alcohol tests and include the results on the accident report.

Unfortunately, drunk drivers often drive at excessive speeds that result in major injuries to victims and require immediate emergency medical care. These victims should seek legal support as soon as possible after addressing all medical needs.

It is best to contact a lawyer as quickly as possible. Call The Rudman Law Firm APC toll-free at (844) 478-3626 / (844) 4RUDMAN, at our Los Angeles office (213) 375-3777 or at our Studio City office (818) 769-6969. You can also use our convenient online contact form to reach us at any time.

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