Alcohol-Involved Crash Kills Two People In Contra Costa County
Charges are pending against the driver who caused a multi-vehicle collision which killed two people and injured seven others.
The suspect driver, who was speeding excessively according to police, smacked into a second vehicle. The force of the impact propelled that second vehicle into a tree. The driver was killed almost immediately. Five people, two of whom were airlifted to nearby hospitals, were seriously injured. Only four of them survived.
None of the names were released.
Direct Evidence of Liability
Officers must have probable cause to arrest criminal suspects. In the DUI context, “probable cause” usually means poor performance on the field sobriety tests, such as the one-leg stand, and/or a breath or blood test which indicates the driver’s BAC level was above the legal limit.
This evidence might or might not hold up in court. For example, the officer might improperly conduct the field tests or the Breathalyzer might not have been properly calibrated.
Whatever happens in criminal court, the negligence per se rule usually applies in these civil cases. Tortfeasors (negligent drivers) are often liable for damages as a matter of law if:
- They violate a safety law, and
- That violation substantially causes injury.
The aforementioned damages usually include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. A San Jose personal injury attorney might also be able to obtain punitive damages, in some extreme cases, like a tortfeasor with a very high BAC level.
Most people are intoxicated after they have three or four drinks. That state usually lasts several hours. Alcohol impairment, however, starts with the first drink. This impairment includes poor judgement and slow motor skills. This combination, which usually also lasts for several hours, is extremely dangerous when people operate heavy machinery, like a motor vehicle.
If the tortfeasor was so impaired that s/he could not safely drive, and again that usually happens after one drink, the tortfeasor could be liable for damages. Circumstantial evidence of impairment includes:
- Bloodshot eyes,
- Unsteady balance,
- Odor of alcohol,
- Slow reflexes,
- Slurred speech, and
- Erratic driving prior to the wreck.
Victim/plaintiffs must establish negligence, or a lack of care, by a preponderance of the evidence, or more likely than not. That’s the lowest standard of proof in California law.
Resolving Civil Claims
Statistically, less than 5 percent of car crash claims go to trial. Most of them settle out of court, through informal or formal mediation.
Informal mediation is basically a series of informal settlement talks. Once a San Jose personal injury attorney determines the maximum compensation amount, the parties negotiate about the figure, mostly on an ongoing basis. Usually, these talks eventually bear fruit. But that’s not always the case.
Formal mediation is a bit different. A neutral third party supervises these settlement negotiations. The mediator’s job is to forge a settlement if at all possible.
Contact a Savvy Santa Clara County Lawyer
Alcohol-impaired drivers often cause serious injuries. For a free consultation with an experienced San Jose car accident lawyer, contact Solution Now Law Firm. We do not charge upfront legal fees in these matters.