Archive for July, 2013

Important Facts about Alcohol-Impaired Car Accident Claims in Missouri [Part II]

Monday, July 15th, 2013

This is the second installment in our two-part blog post providing key information to those who are the victims of drunk drivers in Missouri.  Our Missouri personal injury attorneys have seen the devastating toll that intoxicated drivers can exact on injury victims and their families.  We are committed to fighting for those who are needlessly injured or killed by drivers who elect to drink and drive.  If you have not yet reviewed Part I of this blog series, you may wish to do so before reviewing the information below.

How do these laws help those who are injured or who lose a loved one in a collision caused by a drunk driver?

When a car accident occurs, the police officer may conduct field sobriety tests (FSTs) and chemical testing of breath, blood or urine.  The officer’s observations, FSTs, BAC test results and other evidence may lead to a DUI arrest and conviction.  The evidence from the DUI investigation and subsequent criminal conviction can make it easier for an injury victim to settle a car crash accident claim or prevail in a drunk driving civil lawsuit.  Depending on the specific facts of your case, the driver’s conviction for DUI may even serve as evidence of fault assuming you can establish that the drunk driver actually caused the collision.  Because the BAC threshold for establishing a teen driver was impaired by alcohol is extremely low, this can make it much easier to prove that a teen driver was at-fault in your Missouri car accident lawsuit.

What can I expect from the other driver’s insurance company if I am involved in a collision with an intoxicated driver?

While many people presume that insurance companies will simply “roll over” in this situation, the reality is much different.  Insurance carriers know that a monetary judgment in a DUI case can include substantial punitive damages as well as liberal damages for pain and suffering and impaired quality of life.  This risk of a substantial judgment can be a double-edged sword.  While the insurance company may have an incentive to settle the case to avoid liability, it also may dig in and defend the case aggressively by contesting the cause of the accident or extent of your injuries.

One misconception many people have is that civil liability is guaranteed when an alcohol-impaired driver is involved in a collision.  However, sometimes the sober driver causes or at least partially causes a collision.  Our Missouri DUI accident injury attorneys routinely employ accident reconstruction experts to rebut claims by the insurance company that the injury victim caused the accident.  Even if the insurance company cannot make a compelling argument that you were a factor in causing the crash, it may use medical experts to contest the severity of your injuries.

How is the value of my Missouri drunk driving accident claim determined?

While our experienced Missouri intoxicated driving accident injury attorneys draw on our experience handling hundreds of personal injury claims as well as researching verdicts and settlements in similar cases, there is no guarantee as to the amount of recovery you can expect.  We can say that as a general rule many factors will impact the value of your claim which include:

  • Severity of injury
  • Extent of physical and emotional pain
  • Degree fault is in dispute
  • Egregious conduct of the defendant (i.e. alcohol-impaired driving)
  • Changes in quality of life before and after the accident
  • Any permanent disability
  • Cost and duration of medical care and rehabilitation

These are only a few of the factors that will play a role in determining the value of your personal injury claim.  Generally, motor vehicle accident claims where the at-fault driver is impaired by alcohol will result in more significant monetary recovery that may include punitive damages.

If you or someone you love is injured or a family member dies in a Missouri intoxicated driving car accident, we urge you to contact us if you have questions.  Our experienced motor vehicle accident injury attorneys at Hubbard & Kurtz, LLP work diligently to obtain financial compensation for our clients’ injuries so contact us toll free at (877) 535-1163 to see how we can help!

Important Facts about Alcohol Impaired Car Accident Claims in Missouri [Part I]

Friday, July 5th, 2013

While public traffic safety agencies like the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have shifted much of their focus to distracted driving, alcohol impaired drivers remain the leading cause of fatal traffic accidents in Missouri and throughout the U.S.  While there have been significant strides taken in fighting the drunk driving epidemic, motorists who are impaired by intoxicating substances like drugs or alcohol continue to claim the lives of 10,000 people per year.  Stricter penalties for DUI, more effective law enforcement techniques, teen “zero tolerance” laws and public education campaigns have reduced the number of car crashes caused by alcohol impaired drivers.

Nonetheless, drivers operated a motor vehicle after consuming excessive amounts of alcohol 112 million times in a recent one-year period according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  Based on this data, motorists in the U.S. are placed at risk by over 300,000 drunk drivers daily.  Because drunk driving touches the lives of so many accident victims and their families, we have provided some answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) about accidents and accident claims involving drunk drivers in this two-part blog series.

Is the risk really that high that someone I love will be injured or die in a drunk driving accident?

Unfortunately, all you need to do to understand the severity of the problem is look at the neighbor on either side of you.  Statistically, you or one of those neighbors has had someone they love injured or prematurely killed by an alcohol-impaired driver.  While this claim may seem incredible, the NHTSA reports that based on DUI accident statistics one in three people will be involved in a drunk driving accident at some time during their life.  The practice of driving under the influence of alcohol is so extensive that if drunk drivers had their own state it would be the fifth most populous state in the U.S. with over 17 million people according to the NHTSA.

What actions have lawmakers taken to reduce the number of collisions caused by intoxicated drivers?

The penalties for driving while impaired by alcohol have increased, which includes the imposition of mandatory minimum jail terms and installation of ignition interlock device systems (IID) in many states.  Because the number of drunk driving accidents caused by teen drivers has historically been disproportionately high, many states including Missouri have passed aggressive laws designed to discourage teen DUI accidents.  While the standard for presuming a driver is impaired is a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 percent for adults in Missouri, a teen driver is considered under the influence with a BAC of a mere .02 percent.  This means essentially that a driver under age 21 may be convicted of drunk driving with any measurable amount of alcohol in his or her system.

If you or someone you love is injured or a family member dies in a Missouri intoxicated driving car accident, we urge you to contact us if you have questions.  Our experienced motor vehicle accident injury attorneys at Hubbard & Kurtz, LLP work diligently to obtain financial compensation for our clients’ injuries so contact us toll free at (877) 535-1163 to see how we can help!