If you’re in an incident on the road where a drunk driver is at fault, the fallout can radically change the course of one’s life. Just like other cases that involve personal injury in Las Vegas, you can see a long-term mental, physical, and financial impact. One way to approach all these issues at once is by taking proper legal action to ensure that you get the compensation you require. Most of the time, something such as drunk driving should serve as an open and shut case against the driver. However, this doesn’t mean always. It’s still key that you hold to best practice during the case and directly after the incident to tip the scales in your favor.
After The Incident
To start, when you are hit out on the road and a drunk driver is at fault, make sure everyone is safe and then call the police. It’s also important to make sure that the drunk driver is at the scene up until the police arrive. In some cases, people try to convince the drunk driver to exchange information before parting ways. However, you need police physically present to properly document any intoxication.
With this said, in some scenarios, the drunk driver may not be willing to cooperate. If you can’t keep them physically present without risking your safety, the next best thing to do is get some video evidence, whether it’s using your smartphone or asking a bystander for help. Should you plan to file a civil lawsuit for damages, you need some evidence to present. Without it, the driver could use several methods to try and deny that they were impaired.
When the police are on the scene, many people falsely assume that steps like getting names/contact information from witnesses will be done for them. This isn’t always the case. If there’s no major injuries or fatalities, an officer may not go through this effort, so be sure to take the initiative yourself.
Another important step you want to be proactive about is managing any medical issues that may arise. When you get in an incident with a drunk driver, be sure to head to the emergency room and get medical attention, even if you don’t seem to have much in the way of injuries beforehand. This is due to the fact that adrenaline will cause some injuries to be hard to detect at first. You may not feel or notice anything even when things are seriously wrong. If the doctors determine you don’t need any emergency treatment, you’ll get discharged and be told to follow up with your primary care physician. Be sure to do as you’re told in this case.
Another thing to recall is the fact that your civil case will be quite different from any criminal cases lobbied against the driver by the local district attorney. If the criminal case progresses against them, this is a benefit for your civil case as well. This applies to cases you put up against the drive as well as anywhere they were intoxicated, such as a bar. As a result, if a district attorney reaches out to you, be sure to consult with your legal team first, but be ready to cooperate. Make sure any testimony you give is truthful, also.
Settlements And Your Accident Lawyer In Las Vegas
The ultimate goal for you may be to have a settlement to cover medical bills and other hardships, but that doesn’t mean you want to instantly go to the first option set in front of you. Make sure you have a conversation with your injury lawyer in Las Vegas to make sure you get the best option. Equally important is making sure you properly understand any financial or physical hardship you’ve gone through before agreeing on a settlement. Why is it so important to hold out here? The bulk of the time, the insurer of the driver at fault is trying to minimize how much they have to pay. Settling early on for less money is good for them, not entirely for you.
If you were to take that early settlement, you would generally have to sign a release of liability form before getting your money. What this essentially means is that you’re not allowed to make any injury claims related to this incident. No matter what the medical problem is, you have to deal with it alone. This could lead to a nightmare scenario when someone assumes they are safe, then has major problems later from the incident, but has no legal recourse. So, when looking at settlements, you need to look at lost pay, medical expenses, and your current status in terms of medical conditions.
One side benefit, as we mentioned before, is that if a driver gets a criminal conviction, this will help your case. Insurance companies understand that if a civil case gets to a jury, this makes you a lot more sympathetic. Sometimes, a state lets the defendant submit a no contest DUI plea for civil cases. However, this isn’t a true admission of guilt, so be ready to talk about this with your auto injury lawyer in Las Vegas. If you want to go this route, note that insurance companies generally put in limits on what they are willing to pay. Expect to see around $50,000 on average. Sometimes, damages go over that, and you’ll need to file another civil suit.
Different states will also have additional regulations you need to be aware of. Roughly a dozen states or so have something called “no-fault” insurance laws. This means that if you get into an accident, your insurer will handle any injury claims as opposed to the company of the driver. These states may also place financial limits on what you can claim in these cases, often based on health insurance coverage.