What happens when you are hit by a drunk driver? How is it different than being hit by someone who is not intoxicated?

I recently published an checklist for folks involved in a car crash. That list is useful for all parties in thecrash, regardless of who might be at fault.

In that post I also mentioned that the picture changes when you believe the crash was caused by someone under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Here’s what you need to know in the unfortunate event this happens to you.

Punitive damages are paid in addition to medical costs, lost wages, and pain and suffering

transportation, alcohol, vehicle and people concept - close up of man drinking alcohol while driving car

transportation, alcohol, vehicle and people concept – close up of man drinking alcohol while driving car

Victims of drunk drivers often do not realize that the driver’s auto insurance company is responsible for paying for their related medical costs, lost wages, pain and suffering AND punitive damages.

Unfortunately, often the drunk driver’s insurance is insufficient to pay the total cost, in which case I hope you have proper UM/UIM insurance limits to make up for the difference. While your UM/UIM coverage will not pay for punitive damages, it will cover your other losses.

Case study for punitive damages from my practice

I once assisted a woman who was struck by a drunk driver and her one broken bone resulted in medical bills of $15,000. I was able to settle the case for nearly six times that amount, in great part due to the punitive damages. If the at-fault driver had not been driving while impaired (DWI), or had the woman tried to settle the case herself, the recovery would have been far less.

READ MORE  Rawls, Scheer, Clary, Mingo: Protecting the Rights of Charlotte Citizens

This is where an experienced litigator makes a tremendous difference.

Criminal charges against the drunk driver

If you are struck by a drunk driver, the state may proceed with criminal charges against the driver and use you as a witness.

Note: you are not the District Attorney’s client. You may also be asked to speak during the sentencing phase of a criminal case, even when the driver pleads guilty. Negotiating the civil claim and dealing with the criminal court can be daunting without the assistance of an attorney.

I began my career as a prosecutor in criminal court, and have then spent the last twelve years representing victims in civil court. Therefore I understand what’s going on in both of these sometimes parallel cases.

If you suspect DUI/DWI on the part of a driver who caused your crash, you should contact me immediately because I can find valuable information in the beginning stages of the driver’s criminal case that can be lost if I am not in court to hear all that is said. Often drivers make statements, or their lawyer reveals a fact that can be important to a civil case.

The earlier I get involved in your case the better!

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"I want to thank you all for saving my life....I know you went to considerable effort and expended considerable energy and time to obtain the best possible resolution for me, and that this process was not straightforward and required great skill to accomplish. I know that you believed in me, did not waver in your belief in me, and articulated this belief clearly and effectively when it mattered most. I know that you put your heart into this. You did not see me as a criminal, but as a human being, and in many ways, I felt, as a colleague." ...
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