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Friend crashed my car driving drunk

My friend crashed my car driving drunk. She totaled my car and another car and I was injured. Can I sue her?

- B.K, California


If she was at fault for the accident, which I'm assuming she was if she was drunk, then she is legally liable for the damage she caused to the vehicles and the injuries she caused.

Your auto insurance would cover her, unless she was an excluded driver on your policy. If she has her own auto insurance, that policy may apply too.

As a result of the car accident, you are entitled to make a claim against her for:

  • Property damage
  • Rental car (while your car is in the shop or while you are waiting to receive the total loss check)
  • Medical bills
  • Lost wages
  • Pain and suffering

If she is convicted of drunk driving, then you are also entitled to make a claim against her for "punitive damages," i.e. any additional sum of money which is meant to punish her for drinking and driving. Punitive damages significantly increase the value of your case.

Issue: Did you know she was intoxicated? If you got into the vehicle knowing that your friend had been drinking, then some blame will likely be placed on you for voluntarily accepting the risk of a ride from a drunk driver. In other words, a percentage of blame will be placed on you, and the value of your claim will be reduced by whatever percentage is placed on you.

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