So, I just spoke to a previous client who was in a car wreck. She suspected the at-fault driver was drunk and indicated he was slurring his words. However, as she indicated she did not think anyone was hurt, the police would not come to the accident scene and/or potentially arrest the drunk driver. Let me clarify that this is not a post about criticizing the police and their standards. As I understand it, at the same time as my client’s car wreck, they were dealing with a car wreck involving a fatality just a couple of miles away. This is a blog post intended to give you some advice should you face a similar situation with a drunk driver.
First and foremost, I love the cameras on our phones these days. With any car wreck, pull out your camera phone and start taking pictures of the damage to the cars and/or the location of the cars. I know this sounds bad but if you can do so safely and your injuries don’t prevent you from doing so, I would start taking photographs before I said the first thing to the other driver and before he/she has a chance to move their vehicle. Why? Because I want to have every piece of evidence I can to back up our version of the car accident and hopefully, not face a “he said/she said” situation.
On this issue, if you think the other driver is intoxicated, start to videotape the interactions; if they clearly demonstrate intoxication. Drunk drivers are subject to punitive damages because their behavior is so reckless it is considered a flagrant disregard for the safety of others but, to recover punitive damages in a car wreck, you have to prove that person was under the influence while they were operating their vehicle. Even with a videotape, that’s a high standard to satisfy and I cannot promise you that we could win that argument with just a videotape. Nevertheless, when it comes to the value of a personal injury claim AND demonstrating that you were not at fault in causing the car accident. Every little bit of evidence helps. Just like an insurance company will give us grief when there is little damage to our client’s vehicle, we can usually hit a home run when a drunk driver is involved, because we all understand driving while intoxicated is reckless behavior that needlessly endangers the safety of others.
Second, take photographs of the at-fault driver’s insurance card and driver’s license. Also, make sure that you find out if he/she owns the vehicle they are driving. When a car wreck happens, you have two means of finding liability insurance on the at-fault driver; the insurance covering the vehicle itself and/or the insurance covering the driver. The insurance on the vehicle is considered primary and is usually the first one to apply. The insurance on the driver is secondary and only comes into play if the insurance on the vehicle gets exhausted or if there is no insurance on the vehicle.
Click here to watch a brief video about collisions involving a drunk driver:
As a personal injury lawyer representing the driver who did not cause the car wreck, I look for and can find compensation for my client through either policy, should one policy have been cancelled. The difficulty I face, as a personal injury lawyer, is that if I call an insurance company and give them information to find a policy on John Smith while they actually insure the vehicle under Bob Johnson, they may tell me that there was not a valid insurance policy on the date of the wreck; when in fact, they simply cannot locate the correct policy. As a result, the more information a client can gather at the scene of the car wreck, the better chance I have at moving the claim along quickly, at least the initial phases, to expedite getting their car fixed and determining if the other at-fault driver was uninsured.
Need an Attorney?
If you’d like to speak with an experienced car wreck attorney, especially if you’ve been in a collision with a drunk driver, Call Me on My Cell Phone at (502) 609-7657. I’ll be happy to speak directly with you. My primary office is in Louisville, but I handle cases in Kentucky and Indiana.