How to proceed with a drunk driving accident
April 13, 2017 10:07 AM   Subscribe

YANML. But i need advice. I was hit by a drunk driver and I'm not sure how to proceed, legally.

I was at a dead stop at a traffic light and was hit from behind. The driver was arrested for DUI and for having a suspended license. He was driving his employer's work van on the job when he hit me. I'm wondering if I should be getting a lawyer and suing the employer for damages. My car is still waiting to be assessed (it had to be towed away on a flatbed) and I and my passenger sustained minor whiplash and bumps and are under doctor's care. There are lost wages in addition to the damage to the car. His insurance company is dragging their feet on accepting responsibility. His court date is not until 5/9.

Do I need a lawyer?
posted by archimago to Law & Government (18 answers total)
You need a lawyer. Full stop.
posted by kjs3 at 10:10 AM on April 13 [29 favorites]

I'm usually the person who is skeptical of the benefit of lawyers in many of the situations Mefites pose.

You need a lawyer. Consultations are generally free and/or minimal cost and are entirely appropriate here.
posted by saeculorum at 10:12 AM on April 13 [1 favorite]

I used to work for insurance companies.

You need a lawyer.
posted by Ms Vegetable at 10:13 AM on April 13 [7 favorites]

Are you talking to his insurance company, or is your insurance company talking to his? If you are the one talking to them, stop, and make your insurance company do it. (I was rear-ended by a guy driving a company car and - happily - they accepted full responsibility; I still let me insurance company do all the talking.)

You should also get a lawyer, yes.
posted by rtha at 10:15 AM on April 13 [4 favorites]

I am also someone who might dither about needing a lawyer for a lot of things, and even I would be on the phone right now with one. Do not speak to anyone else about this until you have a lawyer.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:23 AM on April 13 [2 favorites]

Don't talk to his insurance company (if you are) and for the love of God don't sign or agree to anything.

How to find a lawyer
posted by AFABulous at 10:38 AM on April 13 [5 favorites]

Your insurance company has more and better lawyers than you could ever possibly afford on your own. Go through your insurance. They will send the attack dogs on your (and their) behalf. That's what you pay them for.
posted by erst at 10:47 AM on April 13 [3 favorites]

Yeah, I'd speak with the lawyer. You should be able to discuss your case with one for free or very little.
posted by AppleTurnover at 11:04 AM on April 13

Get your own lawyer. Your passenger triple needs their own lawyer. Your insurance company is interested in settling as quickly as possible, not paying for extended physical therapy and other costs or necessary ongoing care that will arise as a result of this accident. Especially if the other party is under-insured, which I am guessing they may be under the circumstances. In this situation your insurance company becomes your adversary as the accident will then be covered by your uninsured motorist policy...

OMG, you and your passenger need representation and medical assessments asap. LAWYER. STAT.
posted by jbenben at 11:28 AM on April 13 [10 favorites]

I would seek counsel outside of your insurance, particularly because of three factors: the criminal act, the passenger, and the resulting injuries

I would not continue to communicate about the details of the incident with anyone except your lawyer (even on online forums.) You don't want to be on record using words like "minor" to describe injuries and then have your lawyer or insurer characterize it some other way.
posted by kapers at 12:38 PM on April 13 [3 favorites]

Yes, you need a lawyer immediately.

Do you have a police report that makes clear what happened? If not, get that immediately too.

Even assuming the business' insurance accepts responsibility and contacts you, they will offer you a lowball settlement that probably won't make you whole. Lawyers (even after taking their cut) will leave you in a much better position.
posted by adamrice at 12:54 PM on April 13 [1 favorite]

Nthing that it's lawyer time. The good news is, the lawyer handles everything from here, so you don't need to know what to do next.
posted by Dashy at 4:49 PM on April 13

You need a lawyer. I had an experience where I was injured due entirely to another party's negligence. My lawyer was able to limit the personal information they got about me (the release form they sent me would have allowed them access to any and all of my medical history, whether related to the injury or not), got my HMO to knock $1000 off the lien they'd placed on me relative to the injury, just by asking (which never would have even crossed my awareness), and massively reduced my stress level because I knew somebody with knowledge and experience was looking out for me. And as adamrice mentions, the settlement I got was higher than I would have gotten otherwise.
posted by Lexica at 5:18 PM on April 13

Lawyer! a personal injury lawyer in most states gets paid on contingency so they have an incentive to get you a good settlement. IAAL, TINLA.
posted by notjustthefish at 5:23 PM on April 13 [1 favorite]

Nthing get a lawyer. I will also say this - in the criminal court side of this don't get surprised, as I was when the exact same thing happened to me, that the court and even the police are pushing you to let the guy plead to reckless driving or the like. I got a sob story about how the drunk had a great driving record and was a standup guy and maybe I should cut him a break. Still regret it 9 years later. Don't do it.
posted by randomkeystrike at 6:23 PM on April 13

Can you get two lawyers? You definitely need a PI attorney. Hope everything works out.
posted by fixedgear at 8:31 AM on April 14

Also, a lawyer keeps them from intimidating your, like by stating that there could be any question of fault with a rear-ending...
posted by acm at 11:01 AM on April 14

Get your own lawyer, do not use your own insurance company's lawyer. Your passenger should also get their own lawyer, who for the sake of avoiding conflicts, should probably be different from your lawyer. I know this seems like a lot of lawyers for one incident, but a) your insurance company's counsel will not necessarily be acting in your best interest, b) your passenger needs someone to represent their best interest, and c) shit can get complicated when there are multiple insurance companies/policies involved and you need your own lawyer to sort through the tangle.
posted by yasaman at 1:22 PM on April 14

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