Is an Intoxicated Driver Always at Fault in an Escondido Crash?

After a motor vehicle crash in Escondido caused by a drunk driver or a drugged driver, is it a given that the intoxicated driver was at fault for the accident? In many (and even most) cases, the answer is yes, but sometimes complications can arise. Our Escondido car accident lawyers can explain.

Negligence and Alcohol or Drug Intoxication

Any motorist who drives under the influence of drugs or alcohol fails to behave as a reasonable driver would and is likely negligent. When a driver is negligent, they can be liable for any injuries in a crash they cause. In a DUI case in California, there are many ways you might be able to prove that the drunk or drugged driver was at fault, such as:

  • Results from a breathalyzer test;
  • Results from another type of chemical test;
  • Restaurant or bar receipts from nearby; and
  • Witness testimony from witnesses who saw the motorist drinking or using drugs or who saw the driver’s behavior on the road.

Generally speaking, when you have evidence that shows a driver was intoxicated and, therefore, negligent, you can obtain compensation through an insurance claim or a civil lawsuit against that motorist.

Comparative Fault Under California Law

Sometimes, even in DUI or drugged driving cases, the intoxicated driver might argue that the injured plaintiff who filed the claim was partially at fault for the crash. In some cases, it may be possible to prove that the plaintiff was also partially at fault due to negligence.

Yet even if the intoxicated driver is somehow able to show that you were partially at fault for the collision, California law still allows you to recover damages. Indeed, California uses a pure comparative fault system. What this means is that you can recover damages even if you were partially at fault and even if you were up to 99% at fault. As long as the defendant (in your case, the intoxicated driver) was even 1% at fault, that party can still be required to pay you a portion of the damages. However, the total amount of your final damages award will be reduced by any portion of your own negligence. For example, if a court awards $100,000 in a drunk driving case, but the intoxicated driver proves that you were also texting while driving and the court determines you were 10% at fault, your award would be reduced by 10%, or $10,000 in this example, and you would recover $90,000.

Contact an Escondido Car Accident Attorney for Help

In most traffic crash cases caused by an intoxicated driver, you can work with an experienced lawyer to gather the necessary evidence to prove that the intoxicated driver was at fault for the crash. Unlike collisions caused by drowsy driving, for example, there is often clear evidence of intoxicated driving from breathalyzer or chemical test results. DUI cases also can rely on other important evidence, such as witness testimony. 

If you need assistance with your auto insurance claim following a collision caused by drunk driving, or if you want to consider a car accident lawsuit against an intoxicated driver, one of the experienced Escondido car accident attorneys at our firm can assist you. Contact the Walton Law Firm today to discuss your case.

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