Alcohol-Fueled Wreck In The Marina District
Few details were available about a crash between an SUV and municipal bus that caused multiple serious injuries.
According to a witness, an SUV driver was westbound on Lombard when he crashed into a northbound 22-Fillmore bus. The force of the collision caused the bus to spin around. The wreck seriously injured six people, including a young child, the witness added.
The driver, whose name was not released, now faces multiple criminal charges, including driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, driving without a driver’s license, causing bodily injury while under the influence, reckless driving, speeding, and failing to stop at a traffic signal.
Direct Evidence in Alcohol-Related Wrecks
Usually, evidence isn’t too important in substance abuse-related wrecks, at least in terms of establishing liability for damages. California has a very broad negligence per se rule. Tortfeasors (negligent drivers) are responsible for damages as a matter of law if:
- They violate a safety law, and
- That violation substantially causes injury.
These damages usually include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. A San Jose personal injury lawyer can obtain additional punitive damages as well, in some extreme cases.
The Golden State also has a very broad DUI law. It’s generally illegal to drive under the influence of any substance. That substance might be legal to consume, like alcohol, marijuana, a prescription pain pill, or an over-the-counter medicine. However, if any substance causes tortfeasors to lose control of their mental and/or physical faculties, an emergency responder could issue a DUI citation.
DUI citations often don’t hold up in court. For example, in a DUI collision case, a police officer didn’t see the defendant driving the vehicle. Therefore, a civilian witness, whose credibility is often shaky, must provide such proof. This proof must establish guilt beyond any reasonable doubt. That’s one of the highest standards of proof in California law.
However, in civil court, a civil jury determines all facts in the case, including guilt or innocence of DUI. Since the burden of proof (a preponderance of the evidence, or more likely than not) is much lower, the difficulties in criminal court usually don’t matter.
Evidence is much more important in impaired driving crashes. Since impairment begins with the first drink, many motorists are dangerously impaired but not legally intoxicated. Evidence in these situations includes:
- Erratic Driving Before the Wreck: Alcohol impairs judgment and motor skills. Therefore, impaired motorists often drive erratically. They do things like slam into buses at high speeds.
- Physical Symptoms: These symptoms include bloodshot eyes, slurred speech, and unsteady balance. These symptoms don’t conclusively prove alcohol consumption. Lots of things could cause bloodshot eyes. However, people with these symptoms have probably been drinking.
- Driver Statements: In criminal court, the Fifth Amendment limits the admissibility of out-of-court admissions. But the Fifth Amendment doesn’t apply in civil cases. So, these statements are usually admissible, especially if an emergency responder or other witness records them, orally or in writing.
Such evidence is also important in negligence per se claims, on the issue of damages. Usually, the more evidence a San Jose personal injury lawyer presents, the more compensation jurors award.
Reach Out to a Hard-Working Santa Clara County Attorney
Car crash claims are usually complex. For a free consultation with an experienced San Jose personal injury attorney, contact the Solution Now Law Firm. We have offices in San Jose, Los Angeles, and Oakland.