Thanksgiving is a time for gratitude, family gatherings, and, unfortunately, a noticeable increase in drunk driving incidents. If you or a loved one were injured by a drunk driver this past Thanksgiving, you might be dealing with a range of injuries and wondering about your next steps. As experienced personal injury lawyers, we at Arshakyan Law Firm are here to guide you through this difficult time.
Injuries from Drunk Driving Accidents
Drunk driving accidents can cause various injuries, some of which may not be immediately apparent. Common injuries include back and neck injuries, which can range from whiplash to more severe spinal damage. Knee, wrist, and shoulder injuries are also frequent, especially in high-impact collisions. In more tragic cases, victims suffer from life-altering conditions like amputation injuries, limb loss, or even loss of eyesight and hearing loss.
Worker's Compensation and Personal Injury Claims
In California, if you are injured in a vehicle accident with a drunk driver during your work hours or while performing work-related tasks, you are generally covered by worker's compensation. This system is designed to provide benefits regardless of who is at fault for the accident. It can cover medical expenses, a portion of lost wages, and rehabilitation costs. As experienced work accident attorneys in Los Angeles, we are well-versed in guiding clients through this process.
However, when the accident involves a drunk driver, the situation can become more complex. In addition to worker's compensation, you may have a personal injury claim against the drunk driver. This claim is separate from worker's compensation and can provide additional compensation for damages like pain and suffering, which are not covered under worker's comp.
It's important to note that worker's compensation can sometimes limit your ability to sue your employer or co-workers. However, this limitation does not extend to third parties, such as drunk drivers. Therefore, pursuing a third-party claim in addition to your worker's compensation claim can be a strategic way to maximize your compensation.
One of the first steps in this process is to accurately determine all liable parties. This could include the drunk driver, their employer if they were also working at the time, or even a bar or establishment if overserving contributed to the incident (known as a "dram shop" law in California, although bars, restaurants, and social hosts are generally not liable for damages caused by their intoxicated customers or guests). Our firm identifies and pursues all avenues of compensation for you.
When handling a dual claim involving worker's compensation and a personal injury lawsuit, timing and coordination are key. There are specific deadlines for filing worker's compensation claims in California, and failing to meet these can jeopardize your ability to receive benefits. The deadlines for filing worker's compensation claims in California are (generally) as follows:
- You must report your injury or illness to your employer within 30 days of the incident or of learning that it was caused by your job.
- You must file a claim form (DWC 1) with your employer to start the workers' compensation process. Your employer must give or mail you this form within one working day after learning about your injury or illness.
- You must file an Application for Adjudication of Claim and Declaration Pursuant to Labor Code 4906 (g) with the workers' compensation appeals board (WCAB) within one year from the date of your injury or illness. This is the official way to file your claim and protect your rights.
Similarly, personal injury claims have a statute of limitations (SOL). The SOL for a drunk driving accident in California is the same as for any other personal injury claim, which is two years from the date of the injury. However, if the drunk driver is convicted of a felony, you may have up to 10 years from the date of the conviction to sue for damages.
The Psychological Impact of Drunk Driving Accidents
The impact of a drunk driving accident isn't just physical. Many victims suffer from mental and psychological injuries, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and depression. These invisible wounds are just as real and debilitating as physical injuries, and our team makes sure they are recognized in your claim.
Understanding Damages and How We Can Help
When you're involved in an accident, especially one caused by a drunk driver, the aftermath can be overwhelming and confusing. Understanding the types of damages available and how a lawyer can assist in recovering them is helpful for anyone in this situation. Let's explore this in detail.
The most immediate concern following an accident is often the medical expenses incurred. These can range from emergency room fees to ongoing rehabilitation costs. A skilled California personal injury lawyer can help document all these expenses, including future medical costs, ensuring that your compensation covers every aspect of your healthcare needs.
Lost Wages and Earning Capacity
If your injuries prevent you from working, you may be entitled to compensation for lost wages. This also includes future earning capacity if your injuries affect your ability to work long-term.
Our California personal injury lawyers will work with financial experts to accurately calculate these losses, presenting a clear case for the compensation you deserve.
Pain and Suffering
This non-economic damage is one of the most challenging to quantify. Pain and suffering cover the physical discomfort and emotional distress caused by the accident. Our personal injury lawyers are experienced in articulating these damages, often using expert testimony and personal accounts to demonstrate the extent of your suffering.
If the accident resulted in damage to your vehicle or other personal property, compensation for repairs or replacement is necessary. We make sure that all property damage is accurately assessed and included in your claim, relieving you of the burden of negotiating with insurance companies.
Punitive damages may be awarded in cases of gross negligence, such as drunk driving. These are intended to punish the wrongdoer and deter similar future behavior. Our lawyers can argue for these damages, emphasizing the reckless nature of the defendant's actions.
Wrongful Death and Survivor Claims
In the most tragic cases, accidents may result in death. Here, our lawyers can help the victim's family pursue wrongful death claims, covering funeral expenses, loss of consortium, and the emotional trauma of losing a loved one. Survivor claims may also be filed for the pain and suffering endured by the deceased before their passing.
Schedule Your Free Case Evaluation Today
Don't handle the aftermath of a drunk driving accident alone. Contact Arshakyan Law Firm for legal assistance. Our dedicated personal injury attorneys in Los Angeles County are committed to helping injured victims secure the compensation they deserve under California law. To schedule your free case evaluation, call our office at (888) 851-5005 today or contact us online. Your recovery and justice are our top priorities.