Posted by Gary Burger on March 11, 2019
I take great pride in helping people in car wreck cases where the defendant is intoxicated with alcohol or drugs. It seems like defendants hire lawyers who get them out of the criminal case. Sometimes people get multiple drunk driving convictions.
I tend to think that for every time a drunk driver is caught, they have done it a hundred other times. So, having a civil lawsuit and real consequence helps make them change their behavior and makes the roads safer for all of us.
We file suit in them at the first hint of low offers. We file a regular negligence count and a separate “per se” count. We say:
- Plaintiff was injured because of Defendant ___’s negligence in violation of R.S.Mo §577.010, when Defendant drove while intoxicated to the extent that Defendant’s driving ability was impaired, which caused him to crash into Plaintiff’s vehicle.
- Defendant was negligent per se for violating R.S.Mo §577.010.
Then we ask for punitive damages- that the defendant be punished for drunk driving and to dissuade him/her from doing it in the future. We plead:
- Defendant acted with deliberate indifference or reckless disregard for the safety of others, including Plaintiff, making an award of punitive damages appropriate in this case.
Serious injuries and damages happen when people drive drunk:
The drunk driver tried to turn left onto Southbound 5th street and crashed into the front of an oncoming vehicle and then into the driver side of Elizabeth’s stopped vehicle.
Luckily, Elizabeth was more shocked than hurt. But the insurance adjuster would not offer much and kept saying the medical expenses are low.
And she insisted we had no conviction on record for the DUI and downplayed it. How did we know he was drunk?
There is no insurance coverage for punitive damages. Seeking them puts pressure to settle. Because if they do not settle, and there is a punitive damages verdict and judgment, the insurance company can be on the hook for it.
Defendants may try to delay resolution of the criminal case to help in the civil case. That’s ok by me – I file suit and try to take a deposition of the defendant right away.
This forces the defendant to take the 5th and not testify. If he does, he can jeopardize his criminal case. If he doesn’t answer my questions, we get a jury instruction presumption that the defendant’s answer would have been against his interest.
Alcohol impaired driving fatalities have steadily declined since I was in high school. Here’s a link to a great article on drunk driving statistics.
But my experiences are personal – i meet and represent the victims and their families after. I could fill your inbox with stories and pictures of these tragedies.
We settled a case for $5 Million for the family of a may killed in a car – tractor trailer crash.
In the early morning hours of June 15, 2013, our client was leaving a casino and went through an intersection on a green light. A tractor trailer proceeded southbound on South Broadway in St. Louis, Missouri violated a red traffic signal and crashed into our client’s truck.
It was a disastrous impact with both vehicles traveling in different directions. The tractor trailer took out some light poles and its cargo was spilt all over the road. The trucking accident impact not only caused a lot of property damage to the neighbor but also destroyed both vehicles.
We filed suit and proceeded with litigation on behalf of the family. We also conducted a quick and extensive investigation to identify some amazing liability evidence and to secure the evidence at the scene.
We had an investigator at the location of the crash quickly. We were able to show through the timing of the lights that the tractor trailer went through the red light. We interviewed witnesses who also so advised.
We obtained the autopsy and toxicology reports which slammed home liability.
We were also able to show because of the skid marks of the tractor trailer that it not only ran the red light that it was over the center line and was on the wrong side of the road at the time of the impact. We were able to show from witness accounts that the tractor trailer was speeding at the time of the accident.
These we all difficult things to show as our client died in this crash and the witnesses were limited for this early morning incident.
We were also able to keep the venue in the City of St. Louis. The truck accident casewas originally filed in the City of St. Louis. The Defendant sought to remove the case to Federal Court. However, we opened an Estate for the deceased truck driver.
We also currently represent Dionna in St. Louis County. She was driving on the exit ramp from Interstate 64 at McKnight Road and came to a stop at the signal
The intoxicated defendant was also exiting Interstate 64 at McKnight, behind Plaintiff’s vehicle.
He rear-ended plaintiff’s Plaintiff’s vehicle. She had no warning. The claim rep would not settle fairly so we filed suit and litigated.
If you have a drunk driving case, pursue it vigorously.
We get the defendant’s medical records and criminal records to prove the intoxication. We get them to admit it in depositions or Requests for Admissions. We try these cases to make sure our clients are fully compensated.