Assume you were in a car that was in an accident caused by a driver who was arrested for drunk driving. Perhaps you have pain in your leg, abdomen, back or neck, or maybe your arm or leg feels numb or is tingling. You were given the crash report or perhaps you went online to buy it and, sure enough, it shows that the driver who caused the crash was cited for a moving violation (e.g. failure to yield the right of way) and was arrested for drunk driving.
Perhaps you are taken by ambulance to the hospital from the accident scene. You go to your primary care physician (PCP) and he examines you and refers you to a Florida orthopedic doctor or for physical therapy.
You look at our map to see if your Florida orthopedic doctor will be helpful and not kill your case by minimizing your injuries or not relating your injuries to the crash. You give the hospital and orthopedic doctor your auto and health insurance information and you have a good understanding of how your medical bills get paid.
Remember: Your out of pocket costs may be less since a drunk driver caused the crash. This is different than a regular Florida car accident case. This can save you thousands of dollars. I will explain.
If you are determined eligible pursuant to the Florida Crime Compensation Act (Florida Statutes 960.01 to 960.28) then any PIP or health insurance deductible that you have does not apply to your medical treatment since a drunk driver’s negligence caused the accident and your injuries. Florida Statutes 624 .128
If you qualify for crime victim compensation then any deductible or co-pay does not apply so your out of pocket costs will be much lower because you won’t owe your medical providers for the bills that PIP won’t cover up to $10,000. If you qualify for crime victim compensation, you also won’t owe any co-pay or deductible that would apply based on your health insurance plan.
You glance at the crash report and notice that the driver who was charged with DUI is insured by State Farm or another auto insurer. Since the crash was in Florida, you write a letter to State Farm asking them to give you the insurance disclosure information that is required in by Florida law.
You understand the importance of the 911 call(s) and you send a written request for the 911 call(s) from the police department. You request the red light camera video (if there were red light cameras at the intersection). If the crash happened near a business that has video surveillance, you ask the business to preserve the video as well. You send a written request for the entire copy of the DUI file to the police department that responded to the scene. They should be listed on the crash report. The DUI file contains all sorts of goodies that can help increase the value of your case.
Hopefully you have sent a letter to the Assistant State Attorney and Public Defender requesting a copy of their entire file. You’ve begun your medical treatment and you receive a subpoena in the mail from the state attorney that requires you to attend the criminal trial. Should you attend? Yes, yes and yes! Please note that I am referring to the drunk driver’s criminal trial, not the injury trial in your civil case.
Tip: Not only should you attend the trial, you should show up 1 hour early so that you are not late.
You should tell the bailiff that you want to let the prosecutor (assistant state attorney) know that you have arrived. You need to make it clear to the assistant state attorney that you are present.
Warning: If you are late to the criminal trial, the prosecutor may extend a lesser plea bargain to the DUI driver or dismiss the case because the prosecutor has less evidence against him or her without your testimony.
This is because without your testimony the prosecutor may not have enough witness testimony to give them a solid chance of getting a guilty verdict against the DUI driver. Remember, like Denzel said in the movie Training Day, “It’s not what you know it’s what you can prove.”
As in any motor vehicle crash case, do not make the mistake of giving a recorded statement or even an informal statement to the bodily injury liability adjuster.
Hopefully by the time the DUI case is going to trial you have a thorough understanding of the liability scenario and all the liability insurances that may be available. You need to know who your target defendants are. This is very important, in part, because your testimony will be recorded by a court reporter if the criminal case goes to trial.
In your personal injury case against the DUI driver, his or her attorneys (provided by the insurance company) will likely request the transcript of the DUI trial which will contain your testimony. You should be adequately prepared to testify at the criminal trial.
While you are in the courtroom at the criminal trial and prior to the start, the prosecutor will bring you into the back room and ask you about the extent and severity of your injuries.
He or she will also ask you whether you saw the DUI driver behind the wheel at the time of the crash. This may be a determinative factor of whether the prosecutor takes the case to trial. If a witness can place the DUI driver behind the wheel during or after the crash, it may increase the chance that the prosecutor takes the case to trial.
The prosecutor will also ask you whether the deal being offered to the DUI driver is acceptable to you.
Tip: You should tell the prosecutor that you want/require the DUI driver to plead guilty of a DUI causing serious bodily injury. Do not tell the prosecutor that you are ok with the defendant pleading guilty to a lesser charge such as reckless driving. Stand your ground on this! You also want to tell the prosecutor that you require restitution. Restitution is particularly important if there is insufficient liability insurance to cover your medical bills and other expenses.
If the DUI driver pleads guilty to DUI, you can use this against the DUI driver in the personal injury case and it can greatly increase the full value of your injury case. Let the prosecutor help you build the civil case. Let your tax dollars work for you.
I settled a case for $95,000 with Geico where my client was diagnosed with a herniated disc after he was hit by a drunk driver. In that case the negligent driver plead guilty to DUI. The amount that we assigned to the pain and suffering component of a herniated disc was larger in this case because the negligent driver plead guilty to DUI.
As soon as you get a copy of the DUI conviction or guilty plea, you should immediately send it to DUI driver’s insurance company as well as some, or all, of the 11 Parties You Can You Make a Claim Against After an Auto Accident. Also send the DUI plea or conviction to the insurers of those parties.
Another advantage of attending the criminal trial is that you will get to see the type of appearance that the DUI driver makes. Is he an angry person or is he respectful?
Does he show remorse? Just as the credibility of the injured person is a huge factor in an injury case, the same applies to the DUI driver in an injury claim. Your injury case against a DUI driver is generally worth more if the DUI driver makes a bad appearance.
If you hire us, we will attend the DUI trial with you. We have settled many cases for people who were injured when they were hit by a drunk driver. Check out some of the many Florida injury cases Florida that we have settled, including but not limited to car accidents, slip and falls, and cruise ships accidents.
We want to represent you if you were injured in an accident in Florida, on a cruise ship or boat. If you live in Florida but were injured in another state I may be able to represent you as well.
Call us now at (888) 594-3577 to See if We Can Represent You in your injury claim. There is No Charge for the call. There are No Fees or Costs Unless We Recover Money. Call us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year. We speak Spanish. We invite you to learn more about us.