You’re driving along following the rules of the road when someone crashes into you out of nowhere. After the initial shock of being in a wreck wears off, you get out of the car to exchange insurance information. The driver who hit you smells like a brewery. He slurs his speech as he stumbles out of his car asking you what happened. You just realized you were hit by a drunk driver.
You call 911. The police and EMS are on the way. Once the police get there and start investigating, you notice a field sobriety test is underway. After he stumbles a few times, the police slap the cuffs on and perp walk him in the back of the police car. You get treated by EMS and the tow truck comes to get the vehicles off the road.
Should I get medical treatment?
Yes. Anytime you’re in a car wreck you should seek immediate medical attention. The shock and adrenaline may cover the pain briefly, but you just had a two-ton (at least) hunk of metal slam into you. You didn’t sign up for bumper cars when you woke up that morning. You just wanted to get to and from your destination without being in a wreck. Make sure you get the proper treatment.
If you can, you take pictures of the vehicles, the roadway, and maybe take a video or two of the field sobriety test and the cuffing. You get the police crash report that should contain all of the insurance information.
After you process what happened, you realize that you were a victim of a drunk driver. Scary, isn’t it? Your life has changed because the drunk driver didn’t feel like calling an Uber, a Lyft, or a friend. You’re out of a car for who knows how long, and parts of your body hurt that didn’t hurt before. How long is it going to take to get better? How much will it cost?
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Is a drunk driving wreck different from a typical car wreck?
Yes and no. Just like any other wreck, you should immediately call 911, get the other driver’s insurance information, take pictures (if you’re able), get contact information of witnesses, and seek immediate medical treatment. You should also avoid talking to the other person’s insurance company. And just like wrecks involving a company vehicle, a company may be responsible for the driver’s actions. But unlike other car wrecks, a bar that over-served the drunk driver could also be responsible. Also, unlike other wrecks, insurance companies are more willing to settle more quickly and more favorably to avoid a jury trial, even in counties like Denton.
How can wrecks involving drunk drivers be different from other wrecks?
A bar or restaurant could also share in the responsibility if the drunk person was over-served.
Certain public records could be even more important such as dash came videos and previous DWI arrests.
Insurance companies worry a little more when the person they insure caused a wreck while drunk (but will still find a way to blame someone else for the wreck).
What if the drunk driver was driving a company vehicle?
You may be surprised that the person who slammed his company vehicle into you was drunk. How does that happen? Doesn’t the company do anything to prevent their employees from driving drunk? Our belief is that companies who entrust their employees with heavy machinery (yes, that includes vehicles) should make sure their employees aren’t driving around town drunk endangering people. Companies do not always do the right thing, though. Sometimes the company knew of the person’s drinking and didn’t do anything to protect the community.
If insurance companies want to settle quicker, why should I hire a lawyer?
Just like all other wrecks, insurance companies still want to twist all of your words and pay you as little as possible. Instead of low-balling you on medical bills, an insurance company might pay most or all of your medical bills. But what insurance companies don’t tell you (even in non-DWI cases) is that your case is often worth more than what they will offer. Injury lawyers will know how to evaluate a case and how to develop the facts to position you for the best possible result.
Insurance companies still play games with drunk driving wrecks
Should I talk to the other driver’s insurance company?
While the commercials make them seem nice and friendly, insurance companies are anything but. They make billions of dollars by collecting premium payments while at the same time paying out as little as possible to people who were injured. Insurance companies treat injured people as algorithms without much care for how your life has changed. Insurance companies often won't even pay for the total amount of actual medical bills. The bottom line is that insurance companies fight to pay you as little as possible to save their bottom line.
In short, you should never talk to the other person’s insurance companies. As we know, insurance companies are more interested in protecting themselves than in paying what is fair and right. Anything you say to them can be used against you if the case goes to court. No matter what you say, the insurance company will find a way to twist your words and use them against you.
You may have to file a lawsuit to get what you are owed from the other person. In Texas (and lots of other states), a lawsuit is filed against the responsible person or company. Although the responsible party’s insurance company covers the defense costs and, typically, the final amount owed to you, court rules generally prohibit ever mentioning insurance in front of a jury. Tepperman Law strongly believes in the jury system and that the jury system is the only way to keep insurance companies honest.