What happens in lawsuits against drunk drivers or hit and run drivers? | Kristensen Weisberg, LLP
What happens in lawsuits against drunk drivers or hit and run drivers? - Employment Law -- Employee - Kristensen Weisberg, LLP
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By John Kristensen of Kristensen Weisberg, LLP posted in Employment Law -- Employee on Wednesday, September 10, 2014.
What happens in lawsuits against drunk drivers or hit and run drivers?

Were you struck by a drunk driver? Did someone slam into your vehicle and flee the scene?  What happens in lawsuits with drunk drivers and cases against hit and run drivers.  At Kristensen Weisberg, LLP we’ve been handling these cases for a years.  It’s not the slam dunk people think these cases are at first.  The insurance industry is somewhat creative in defending drunk drivers cases.  That is why you need someone who has, and will continue to beat insurance companies who defend drunk drivers. If someone is drinking and driving, or hits someone and flees the scene, there is considerable California case law that those acts evidence a “conscious disregard for the safety of others.” Wanton and reckless misconduct, which has been described as a defendant’s conduct which constitutes a conscious disregard of the safety of others, may justify an award of exemplary damages.   Nolin v. National Convenience Stores, Inc. (1979) 95 Cal.App.3d 279, 286. The California Supreme Court in Taylor v. Sup. Ct. (1979) 24 Cal.3d 890 held that driving an automobile distracted because of intoxication warrants an award of punitive damages: “[W]e have no difficulty concluding that the [Complaint] contains sufficient allegations upon which it may reasonably be concluded that defendant consciously disregarded the safety of others. There is a very commonly understood risk which attends every motor vehicle driver who is intoxicated.  Coulter v. Sup. Ct. (1978) 21 Cal.3d 144, 152-154.  One who willfully consumes alcoholic beverages to the point of intoxication, knowing that he thereafter must operate a motor vehicle, thereby combining sharply impaired physical and mental faculties with a vehicle capable of great force and speed, reasonably may be heldto exhibit a conscious disregard of the safety of others. The effect may be lethal whether or not the driver had a prior history of drunk driving incidents.”  Taylorsupra, 24 Cal.3d at p. 897 (emphasis added). The California Supreme Court made it clear back in 1978 that drinking and driving to the point of intoxication evidences a “conscious disregard” and can amount to punitive damages. That has not stopped the insurance industry from misrepresenting the current state of the law.  Fortunately, they are predictable. The insurance lawyers often file the same motion to strike punitive damages suggesting that the California Court of Appeal someone overturned the California Supreme Court two years later in Dawes v. Sup. Ct. (1980) 111 Cal.App.3d 82. First, the California Court of Appeal is an intermediary court that can be overturned by the California Supreme Court, not the other way around. Second, the Dawes Court was analyzing a pre-Taylor claim, and the language the insurance defense bar cherry picks is simply dicta (quotes from cases that are not authoritative rules of law). Despite citations by the insurance industry being inaccurate, numerous trial courts routinely grant these Motions to Strike, which severely limits the leverage a victim has in obtaining justice. Our office drops knowledge in response to these boilerplate motions. Last month, we obtained a well reasoned opinion denying a Motion to Strike punitive damages. If you’ve been in an accident involving a drunk driver, victimized by a hit and run driver or injured due to someone texting “OMG” while driving, contact us for a free consultation.  We will aggressively fight the insurance industry on your behalf, and don’t put up with their bully tactics.  Contact us at (310) 507-7924 or klg@kristensenlaw.com.

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