If you’ve been injured by a drunk driver in San Diego, you should consider hiring a DUI personal injury lawyer.

San Diego DUI fatalities reached a record high in recent years, prompting law enforcement to crack down on drinking and driving.  Despite their efforts, drinking and driving is still a dangerous problem, especially on holiday weekends like Memorial Day, Labor Day, the 4th of July, and Super Bowl Sunday. 

Drinking and driving is particularly hazardous to pedestrians and cyclists, who are out year-round in San Diego due to the moderate climate.

What to Do If Hit by a Drunk Driver

There are specific steps you must take to best protect your legal rights.  If you are too injured, have someone else help you.

Call 911 immediately.  Report the accident and your injuries.  Have the police record the accident details and establish whether the driver was intoxicated. 

Take photos of the accident.  Photograph all vehicles involved in the accident and the damage to each.  Photograph your injuries and any property damage (fences, posts, walls, guardrails).  If there is security footage of the accident, obtain it.

Talk to witnesses and record their contact information.  Witness statements can help your case, such as by helping to identify a hit-and-run driver. 

Go to the doctor immediately.  Report all of your injuries to the doctor and receive treatment for them.  Continue treatment as advised by your doctor.  Go to all of your medical appointments.  Suppose you wait to go to the doctor, miss medical appointments, or stop treatment early.  In that case, the insurance company will use it as evidence that you are not as injured as you say. 

Save all of your medical records, including bills and receipts.  Keep all of your medical records together in a safe place.  Documentation is essential in personal injury cases.  Lost or disorganized documents can harm your case.

Obtain a copy of the police report.  The police report will include the officers’ opinion of what caused the accident and any citations they issued, including for drinking and driving.  Contact the police department that responded to the accident and obtain a copy of the police report.  If you hire an attorney, your attorney can do this for you.

Hire a proven personal injury attorney as soon as possible.  Insurance companies pay more to the clients of attorneys who have a proven history of winning personal injury trials.  A good lawyer will maximize your recovery and handle the legal aspects of your case so you can focus on your recovery.  You will need to hire a proven personal injury lawyer to receive anywhere near the full value of your claim.  Contact a personal injury lawyer before you contact an insurance company.  If you already talked to an insurance company, there is still time to contact us.

Click here for more information on how to win your personal injury case.

Do You Have a Claim Against the Drunk Driver?

You must prove liability, damages, and collectability to win your case.  These are the three essential elements of a successful claim.


Liability for the accident depends on who caused it.  Drunk drivers are always responsible for the harm they cause.  However, other parties may also be liable depending on the circumstances of the case. 

The drunk driver’s employer may be liable if the driver was driving a company vehicle, was on company property, or was driving within the scope of their employment.  The car’s owner may be liable if they knowingly let a drunk or unlicensed driver operate their vehicle.  The social host who served alcohol to the drunk driver may be liable if the driver was a minor.

In the case of a hit-and-run, an investigation may be necessary to identify the driver.  The investigation may include obtaining witnesses’ statements, obtaining security footage of the accident, and determining where the driver was before and after the accident.  These tasks require the knowledge and skill of an experienced attorney.  You will achieve better results by hiring a proven personal injury lawyer than by trying to investigate the accident on your own.


People injured by drunk drivers are entitled to recover for medical expenses, physical pain and suffering, mental and emotional anguish, lost wages, lost earning capacity, lost enjoyment of life, property damage, and other damages. 

DUI accidents often cause catastrophic injuries such as brain injuries, spine injuries, broken bones, paralysis, and death.  Even minor injuries affect every aspect of a person’s life including their ability to do things they enjoy.  Victims are entitled to recover for these losses.

If someone has died because of a drunk driver, the victim’s family may recover for wrongful death.  The victim’s family may recover for medical expenses, funeral expenses, lost income, emotional pain and suffering, loss of consortium, loss of companionship, and other damages.


Collectability means the people or entities responsible for the accident have enough assets to pay for the victim’s damages. 

California requires all drivers to have insurance.  However, insurance companies will try to shift blame for the accident even though their client was drunk.  They will blame the victim for causing the accident and say the victim’s injuries are not as severe as they say.  Do not expect insurance companies to pity you no matter how great your suffering is.  They will do everything in their power to avoid financial responsibility.

Although the law requires all drivers to have insurance, some still drive uninsured.  Other drivers carry the legal minimum insurance policy, which is low in California and may not be nearly enough to cover the victim’s damages.

In the case of an uninsured or underinsured driver, your own insurance policy may be your best bet for recovering.  Uninsured/underinsured (UM/UIM) motorist coverage is insurance you purchase from your own insurance company in case an uninsured or underinsured motorist strikes you.  The law requires insurance companies to offer UM/UIM coverage, but drivers are not required to purchase it.

Hit-and-Run DUI Accidents

Hit-and-run accidents often involve drunk drivers.  If a drunk driver injures someone in an accident, they may be charged with a felony and face serious jail time.  If a drunk driver kills someone in an accident, they can be charged with vehicular manslaughter and even murder.  Thus, the drunk driver who caused the accident may flee the scene to escape responsibility. 

If a hit-and-run driver injured you, record everything you remember about the driver (unique identifying characteristics) and the vehicle (color, make, model, unusual features).  Talk to witnesses who can help identify the driver and record their contact information.  Hire an experienced personal injury attorney to investigate the accident thoroughly.  A skilled attorney has a much better chance of identifying the driver than if you try to do it yourself. 

If the driver cannot be identified or does not have insurance, your best bet may be your UM/UIM insurance policy.

Dangers of Drinking and Driving

Drinking and driving is a serious crime.  Drinking affects a person’s ability to drive safely.  Even a small amount of alcohol (less than the legal limit) can impair someone’s driving ability.  Nearly 40% of fatal traffic accidents involve alcohol or drugs.

Driving impaired is not limited to alcohol.  Other drugs, including over-the-counter medications, can impede a person’s ability to drive safely.  Medicines may cause dizziness, sleepiness, fainting, blurred vision, inattentiveness, lack of focus, and slowed movement.  It is illegal to drive under the influence of any substance that makes it dangerous for you to drive, even if a doctor prescribes it

The law prohibits professional drivers, such as semi-truck drivers, from driving after drinking or consuming drugs.  Driving a large vehicle (like a bus or semi-truck) when impaired is extremely dangerous due to the vehicle’s size and the impact force if involved in an accident.  Accidents involving large vehicles are rarely minor.  As such, the law holds bus drivers, truck drivers, and other professional drivers to the strictest standards for driving after using alcohol or drugs.

How to Identify Drunk or Impaired Drivers

Watch out for erratic drivers and stay as far away from them as possible.  Report drunk or impaired drivers by calling 911 when you can do it safely.  Be ready to give your location and describe the vehicle, but do not endanger yourself trying to obtain this information. 

Signs that a driver may be drunk or impaired include:

  • Driving very slow or very fast
  • Driving without their lights on at night
  • Swerving, drifting, or crossing lanes
  • Accelerating erratically
  • Stopping or braking erratically
  • Responding slowly to traffic signals
  • Breaking traffic laws
  • Driving on the wrong side of the road
  • Collisions or near collisions
  • Turning widely, abruptly, or illegally

Always wear your seatbelt.  Wearing a seatbelt is the best way to protect yourself in case of an accident.

How We Can Help

At Williams Iagmin, LLP, we have a proven track record of winning personal injury trials.  We have the experience and skill necessary to achieve the best possible result in your case.  We will manage the legal aspects of your case so you can focus on recovering.

Schedule a complimentary strategy session with us today.  You will meet with one of San Diego’s top personal injury lawyers to learn strategies that may help you win your case.  We will provide you with a well-written summary of the facts of your case for free.

We are a small law firm.  Bigger law firms farm their work out to less experienced attorneys.  You will have one of San Diego’s best personal injury attorneys personally handle your case.


Judicial Council of California – Civil Jury Instruction No. 3701.  Tort Liability Asserted Against Principal – Essential Factual Elements

Judicial Council of California – Civil Jury Instruction No. 724.  Negligent Entrustment of Motor Vehicle

California Legislative Information – California Vehicle Code § 14606

California Legislative Information – California Vehicle Code § 25658

California Legislative Information – California Vehicle Code § 16056

California Department of Insurance – Automobile Insurance Information Guide

California Legislative Information – California Vehicle Code § 23153

California Legislative Information – California Penal Code § 192

California Legislative Information – California Penal Code § 187

California Legislative Information – California Vehicle Code § 23152

United States Department of Transportation – Drunk Driving

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration – Alcohol and Driving

California Department of Motor Vehicles – California Driver’s Handbook, Section 9: Alcohol and Drugs

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration – The Motor Carrier Safety Planner, 6.3.2 Alcohol

Code of Federal Regulations § 392.5 – Alcohol Prohibition

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration – Seat Belts