Will Insurance Companies Pay for Drunk Driving Accidents?

by Staff Blogger | January 23rd, 2023

A drunk driving accident can lead to severe injuries and damage to vehicles and property. The cost of medical bills and repair or replacement costs for vehicles after crashes can be thousands of dollars, leaving accident victims burdened with overwhelming expenses during an already stressful time.

Filing a drunk driving accident claim against the negligent driver’s insurance can help you receive compensation to pay for accident-related expenses. However, insurance companies will typically do everything possible to avoid paying you a fair settlement for your injuries.

Read on to learn the factors that insurance companies in California consider when paying a settlement for a drunk driving accident. Contact the California drunk driving injury attorneys at Berg Injury Lawyers to help you seek compensation to cover your financial losses.

What Does California Law Say?

In California, it’s against the law to drive under the influence of alcohol. The law states that anyone with a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher if they are over 21 years old or a BAC of 0.01% if they are under 21 cannot legally get behind the wheel.

California also has laws on driving under the influence of marijuana and other drugs and medications, both prescription and over-the-counter. If a police officer suspects a driver to be under the influence of a substance, they can conduct sobriety tests and potentially put them under arrest.

However, for insurance purposes, drunk drivers are not automatically considered at fault for damages in a car accident. For example, an intoxicated driver may be involved in an accident they did not cause.

A drunk driver may be stopped at a red light when another vehicle fails to stop and rear-ends them. In this case, the drunk driver has not caused the crash, so their insurance does not need to pay to cover the other driver’s damages, even though they were driving drunk.

Drunk Driving and Liability in California

If you were involved in an accident with a drunk driver, even if they were charged with a crime, they may not be responsible for damages resulting from the accident. Legally, the driver may still face jail time, fines, or loss of driving privileges, but insurance companies don’t automatically fault the drunk driver when determining liability for a settlement.

California uses the pure comparative negligence doctrine to assign fault in an auto accident. Pure comparative negligence works by assigning responsibility to drivers involved in an accident. Pure comparative negligence allows anyone to receive damages, even if they are 99% at fault for the damages.

If you file for damages in a drunk driving incident, California insurance companies will examine the factors of the case to determine a level of fault to all parties. For example, they may look at blood-alcohol level tests, camera footage, police reports, or receipts from nearby bars to decide if the driver was drunk and if their actions caused the collision.

Based on the insurance company’s conclusion, they may take the following actions:

  • If the drunk driver wasn’t at fault: The insurance company will argue that the drunk driver was not at fault, and therefore, does not need to cover the cost of a claim even though the driver will face criminal charges for driving while intoxicated.
  • If a drunk driver was only partially responsible: The insurance of both parties involved in the crash may make payments in this case. For example, a drunk driver ran a red light, but the other driver was texting while driving and hit the drunk driver’s car.
  • The drunk driver was at fault: If a drunk driver is at fault in an accident, their insurance will most likely cover your claim because they did not intentionally cause damage or injury. However, depending on the case’s specifics, the drunk driver’s insurance may deny the claim based on illegal activity voiding their policy.

In this case, you may need to seek help from an attorney at Berg Injury Lawyers to help gather evidence, navigate the insurance claims process, and pursue a settlement.

Get Legal Help When Filing a Claim

If you or someone you know were in a car accident, you might not be guaranteed compensation from the drunk driver’s car insurance company. A lawyer specializing in personal injury resulting from drunk driving accidents can help ensure you have the money to pay for your medical bills.

California Drunk Driving Injury Attorneys at Berg Injury Lawyers can help you navigate the insurance claim process or file a lawsuit against the guilty party to help you receive the compensation you’re entitled to get you back on your feet.

Our knowledge and experience in car accidents and personal injury cases can win you a fair settlement so you can focus on recovery.

Contact our attorneys today for a free consultation.