Alcohol-Related Wrong Way Wreck in San Diego
A suspected drunk driver seriously injured three people in a wrong-way wreck on southbound Interstate 5 in Carlsbad.
According to investigators, the pickup driver, who was arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence, smashed into an Audi. The occupants of that vehicle, a man and a woman, suffered life-threatening injuries. Emergency responders rushed them to Scripps La Jolla hospital.
The pickup driver sustained minor injuries and no other details were available.
This substance seriously impairs driving skills. As a result, alcohol is a factor in about a third of the fatal car crashes in SoCal. A Carlsbad car accident lawyer can usually obtain compensation if the tortfeasor (negligent driver) was impaired or intoxicated.
Driver impairment is basically driver limitation. The duty of care requires all motorists to be at their best, mentally, physically, and otherwise, before they get behind the wheel. Alcohol impaired motorists clearly aren’t at their best, even if they aren’t legally intoxicated or falling-down drunk.
To establish alcohol impairment, a Carlsbad personal injury lawyer typically uses circumstantial evidence, like:
- Prior confirmed or possible alcohol purchases,
- Erratic driving before the wreck,
- Physical symptoms, such as unsteady balance or bloodshot eyes,
- Open container of alcohol in the vehicle, and
- Tortfeasor’s statements about alcohol consumption.
Individually, these items probably don’t establish alcohol impairment. However, the burden of proof in a civil claim is only a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not). So, the whole of this proof is greater than the sum of its parts.
If emergency responders arrested the tortfeasor for DUI or another alcohol-related offense, the negligence per se shortcut usually applies. Victims might automatically be entitled to damages if the tortfeasor violated the DUI law or another safety law, and that violation substantially caused injury.
Wrong Way Wrecks
Liability (legal responsibility for injury) is often straightforward in alcohol-related wrecks, especially if the tortfeasor was legally drunk. Wrong way wrecks are another matter, mostly because of the last clear chance doctrine.
Usually, confusion causes motorists to drive on the wrong side of the road. Driver impairment, like alcohol use or fatigue, could cause that confusion. Other times, especially at night, a driver innocently mistakes an on ramp for an off ramp. These drivers are negligent, whether or not they intended to hurt someone.
There’s a subtle, yet important, difference between a wrong way wreck and a head on collision, mostly because of the aforementioned last clear chance defense.
Assume westbound Stan tries to pass a slow-moving vehicle on a two-lane road, and he veers into eastbound Ollie’s path. Most likely, the wreck happened so quickly that Ollie couldn’t avoid it. Therefore, Stan, who drove on the wrong side of the road, was the only driver who breached his duty of care, which is basically a duty to avoid accidents if possible.
Let’s change these facts. Now assume Stan was driving east on the westbound side. Depending on traffic, weather, and other conditions, westbound Ollie might have been able to change lanes or otherwise avoid a wreck.
This time, both drivers breached their duty of care. Legally, if Ollie had the last clear chance to avoid the wreck, he could be legally responsible for damages, although he did nothing wrong.
If you’re in a wrong way wreck, or any other kind of wreck, always ask a lawyer to evaluate your case, even if an insurance investigator said you were at fault. People simply don’t know how much compensation they may be entitled to until they speak with lawyers.
Speak With a Diligent San Diego County Lawyer
Injury victims are entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Carlsbad, contact the Pursley Law Firm. Attorneys can connect victims with doctors, even if they have no insurance or money.