How does driving under the influence affect wrongful death cases in San Diego?

California – April 28, 2022

In the United States, drunk drivers account for approximately 28 percent of traffic fatalities, averaging more than 10,000 deaths each year. New data suggest that the percentage of crashes involving drivers with blood alcohol content (BAC) over the legal limit has jumped from 19 percent to 26 percent during COVID. DUI-related fatality crashes spiked across San Diego County in 2021 marking the most fatal DUIs in twenty years. California drivers need to understand the action of driving under the influence of alcohol, or drugs (legal, or illegal) can cause fatal injury to themselves, or innocent drivers sharing California roadways often resulting in criminal and civil legal problems. When a wrongful death is caused by a drunk driver, a personal injury lawyer in San Diego can assist family members with insurance claims to cover immediate expenses related to funeral and burial costs, and research the particulars of a case for further damage compensation once fault has been established.

What type of damages may be awarded?

Successful wrongful death litigation may result in compensation for losses to surviving loved ones that may cover funeral expenses, lost and future wages, and compensation for the loss of companionship, comfort, and affection as well as any negative impacts to the financial stability of the surviving family. California law requires that all drivers have a means to cover costs related to damages, or injuries caused in motor vehicle accidents and are required to purchase liability care insurance in at least the minimum amount of:

  • $15,000 for injury/death to one person.
  • $30,000 for injury/death to more than one person.
  • $5,000 for damage to property.

Comparative Negligence.

California law requires everyone to be responsible for their actions and damage compensation after an accident will be adjusted in accordance with a percentage of fault assigned to all parties. If the accident was caused by driving under the influence of alcohol, or other drugs a DUI, or drug-related criminal conviction may have some bearing on the outcome of the personal injury wrongful death action and insurance carrier responsibility and compensation. Driving under the influence of alcohol is a criminal offense in San Diego and charges will be sorted out by the State to assign guilt to a driver who caused fatal injury to another person. A successful verdict in a criminal DUI action may impose severe penalties on a driver that include jail time, fines, penalties, loss of a driver’s license, ignition interlock device installation, and support a higher damage award in civil cases related to the same accident. An experienced accident attorney can apprise surviving loved ones on potential case-specific outcomes and timelines that must be followed.

Hire an attorney.

Accident victims and supporting family members should consult with a personal injury lawyer immediately after a car crash involving a driving under the influence charge that takes a loved one’s life. Associates at the Law Offices of Jeffrey E. Estes & Associates will take action to build a winning wrongful death case against a negligent driver when DUI actions cause fatal injury to other roadway commuters.


Jeffrey E. Estes & Associates, a Professional Law Corporation

501 West Broadway, Suite 1650

San Diego, CA 92101

Phone: 619-233-8021

Fax: 619-233-3730


  1. DUI Statistics and Trends: 2022 Annual Report – SafeHome.org
  2. San Diego DUI deaths break record in 2021 | cbs8.com
  3. https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?lawCode=VEH&sectionNum=20001
  4. https://california.public.law/codes/ca_civ_code_section_3294
  5. https://www.dmv.org/ca-california/automotive-law/dui.php


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