Orange County DUI Accident Attorneys

Drunk driving accidents in Orange County, CA can often be some of the most dangerous. We tend to think more of the criminal consequences of drunk driving, but what’s more important to the victims is what’s going to happen to them. Victims of drunk driving are often left with significant injuries, pain, damage or totaled vehicles, lost income, and sometimes even the death of a loved one. The weight of these things can feel crippling. While we might wish that the insurance would readily and willingly pay out the compensation the victims are due, that’s rarely the case. The insurance company is going to put up a fight, but we know how to fight back. If you are looking for a skilled, accomplished team to have on your side, then the Law Offices of Steven Zwick is what you need.


There are a few different things that may lead to a DUI charge in California, including:

  • A blood alcohol concentration (BAC) over 0.08% for all drivers over 21

  • A BAC over 0.04% for any drivers on DUI probation

  • A BAC over 0.04% for commercial vehicle drivers

  • Any BAC for all drivers under 21

  • Open containers

  • Driving impaired by over-the-counter medication, prescription medication, or illegal narcotics


It’s important to distinguish between the criminal and civil aspects of the DUI. A driver charged with a DUI will face a criminal trial, which will determine a criminal punishment. The criminal case doesn’t have anything to do with any kind of restitution for other parties.

A civil case is where fault and damages for the victim will be determined. However, it’s important to establish that the damages are dependent upon fault. You might think that a case of a driver being charged with a DUI means they are de facto at fault. That is not the case. The DUI may be the cause of the accident, but that needs to be proved. Consider that it could be that a driver with 0.09% BAC is sitting at a red light and gets run into by another driver. The drunk driver may get charged with a DUI, but clearly, the fact of their being drunk in no way contributed to the accident. Irresponsible behavior alone is not enough to declare fault. A causal link must be established as well.


Steven Zwick in a navy suit.


The kind of claim that would be filed in the case of a car accident would be a personal injury claim. That law comes with a statute of limitations that requires that a claim be made within two years of the injury. There is the possibility of filing a later claim if the injury is discovered outside of that window. In that case, a claim must be filed within one year of the discovery.

However, filing a claim against the responsible parties is often a last resort. That process can be both expensive and time-consuming. Prior to that, a negotiated settlement may be a better option that offers more benefits in the end. However, negotiating from a position of strength requires time to investigate the accident and gather evidence. The sooner that process is started, the better, so don’t delay reaching out to us if you’ve been injured in a DUI accident.


A DUI accident claim falls under a personal injury claim. These kinds of claims hinge on proving liability and fault, so as long as liability is established, damages can be awarded. In most personal injury claims, liability is established through negligence. This is how the process operates in almost all DUI claims. To prove negligence, three elements must be proven:

  • A Duty to Care – This means that a person, given the circumstances, has a duty to behave in a way that doesn’t put others nearby in any danger.

  • A Breach of Duty – It must be shown that the duty wasn’t lived up to by the defendant. If they have failed to behave as a reasonably careful person would have, that is considered a breach.

  • Cause – The breach of duty must be shown to be the cause of the accident.

In the case of a DUI accident claim, a duty to care is understood. Anyone driving a vehicle has a duty to care for others on the road. Proving a breach of duty can be a little more difficult. The defendant can claim that they weren’t driving under the influence. Obviously, a BAC test can help, but defendants may argue against the validity of the test, so it helps to have other evidence of the DUI. That’s something a lawyer can help with. Additionally, the DUI might not be the only potential breach if other traffic violations were occurring simultaneously.

We can put together an argument demonstrating cause as well. This is critical, as it is what determines fault in the case. The DUI, the breach of duty, must be shown to be the reason that the accident occurred. Only then is liability established.


Damages are an attempt to restore to ‘whole’ the victim in a personal injury claim. This can be done fairly reasonably in terms of things that cost something or can be replaced by money. Obviously, though, there are things that are lost or endured in the process. That is something personal liability law attempts to grapple with, which is why there are a few different categories of damages you might receive. They are: 

  • Economic Damages – These cover things like medical bills, lost wages, lost future earnings, and property damage. Anything that can be bought and sold for a price is generally considered economic damages.

  • Non-Economic Damages – These damages address things that can be hard to quantify. Things like pain and suffering or mental anguish are addressed with non-economic damages. To be awarded these damages, you must be able to demonstrate that these feelings, anxiety, or depression are a result of the accident.

California is a comparative fault state, which means that even in the case of a drunk driving accident, you may be found to be partially at fault for the accident. For instance, if you were found to be violating a traffic law when the accident occurred, you could be given some responsibility for the accident. Damages are delivered proportionately with fault in these cases.


If you’ve lost someone like a spouse, a child, or a parent as a result of a drunk driving accident, then you may want to file a wrongful death claim. In a wrongful death claim, you can receive damages for costs associated with the accident, but you can additionally be awarded damages for:

  • Funeral and burial costs

  • Loss of income that the deceased would have provided

  • Loss of consortium


The aftermath of any accident can be an important time for a potential later claim. Of course, it’s possible that in the aftermath, you might not physically be able to take some or any of the steps mentioned here. If so, don’t worry because we still have the ability to investigate the circumstances. However, if at all possible, just know that doing a few things soon after the accident can later on be a benefit to your case.

  • Call 911 – Getting emergency services there quickly is important both for anyone injured and for your case. The police will take care of an initial investigation and report their findings. Answer honestly and concisely anything the police ask, but be sure to inform them if you have any reason to suspect that the other driver is impaired. If you notice any smell of alcohol or marijuana or anything else indicative of impairment, inform the officers; they will handle it from there.

  • Choose Your Words Carefully – Other than when you speak with the police or your lawyer, avoid using too much detail in discussing the accident. In particular, you will want to be very cautious when talking with anyone from the insurance companies involved. Anything you say that sounds even slightly like taking some of the blame for the accident could later be used against you.

  • Get Yourself and Vehicle Assessed – Even if the paramedics checked you out at the scene of the accident, go and get a full assessment from a doctor as soon as possible. Some injuries might not be noticed by the paramedics who are looking for anything traumatic, and it’s also possible adrenaline may lead you not to recognize an injury in the initial aftermath. Any delay in getting looked at by a doctor could be used to claim your injuries weren’t as serious. You will also want to get your vehicle looked at so you have an idea of what repairs are going to cost.

  • Contact the Law Offices of Steven Zwick – We want to make sure you get everything you are owed. The sooner you get in touch with us after your accident, the sooner we can begin investigating the situation. From there, we can help negotiate with the insurance companies. If necessary, we can help file a claim and argue your case in court. We’re ready to fight for you, so contact us as soon as you can.


If you’ve been harmed by a drunk driver, you might assume that you will get everything that’s owed to you from the insurance company. And while that might be true in the end, you’re not going to get it without a fight. The insurance company wants to pay you as little as it possibly can. They will have a team of people dedicated to avoiding paying you much of anything. You are going to want a team of your own to give you a chance to fight back. At the Law Offices of Steven Zwick, we have the experience and knowledge that can give you an opportunity to get what you deserve. Contact us today, and let us evaluate your case.