If you’ve been victimized by a drunk driver and sustained injuries from the accident, you deserve to be compensated for your physical and emotional pain.
Hire An Attorney For A Drunk Driver Accident Injury
Getting into a car accident is a traumatic event, even the most harmless fender bender can jolt those involved. Some accidents though are very serious and can cause serious physical and emotional pain. Accidents that involve a drunk driver are particularly traumatic for the driver who falls victim to the irresponsible driver’s actions. Not only do you feel the trauma that’s typical in any car accident, but you also feel like a victim of a crime. In recent years the state of Missouri has clamped down on drunk drivers in an effort to reduce the number of drunk driving accidents and drunk driving deaths and injuries. Unfortunately, every year there are still hundreds of car accidents that involve an impaired driver. In fact, each year there are approximately 34,000 DWI arrests made across the state. Furthermore, it should worry all of us that the average drunk driver will drive over 80 times before being arrested and charged with a DWI.
What this means is that there are still hundreds, if not thousands, of drunk drivers on the road each and every day. This explains why there are still thousands of DWI related car accident injuries each year, and why drunk drivers are the cause of approximately 200 fatalities and several hundred serious injuries a year. All of this is a result of irresponsible drunk drivers who put other people’s lives at risk. Those who are the victims are put through an immense amount of physical and emotional pain, unnecessarily.
If you’ve fallen victim to one of these drivers it’s crucial you find yourself an attorney who can help you with the case. Car accident injury cases that involve DWI’s require a particular set of skills that not all car accident injury lawyers in St. Louis possess. Not only do you want someone who knows Missouri personal injury laws inside out; you also want a DWI accident injury lawyer who has extensive knowledge and experience with criminal law. In these types of cases, the strength of your personal injury case will be predicated on the strength of the criminal case.
2017 Missouri: 191 fatalties from car accidents where alcohol was involved
Why Hire A Personal Injury Lawyer Immediately
Car accident injury cases that involve a drunk driver can be very complicated, to say the least. There are multiple questions and issues to deal with when you have an impaired driver, and they willingly get behind the wheel of a car, and it results in an accident that causes injuries or death. First, you have the criminal implications that come into play since drinking and driving is against the law in Missouri. You then also have the civil side, which includes the Missouri Department of Revenue, which will enforce any penalties to the suspected drunk driver as well. Then you have the other civil matter which involves you the victim and the impaired driver. If you are injured in the accident and the other driver was drunk you have the option to seek damages against the driver and his/her insurance company. The amount and the types of damages can vary depending on the circumstance of your case, but in these are the types of cases that make insurance company executives lose sleep at night.
This is why it’s important that you realize insurance companies are not on your side when it comes to car accident damage claims, especially ones that involve an impaired driver. Most people make the mistake of trusting their own insurance company and hoping that they can get fairly compensated for their injuries and damages. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case, which is why you should always seek out the advice of a St. Louis personal injury lawyer immediately after your car accident. If you are unable to do this yourself because of your injuries, then it would be wise to ask a trusted family member to help you with the process.
Acting quickly is important for a number of reasons. First, the faster you’re able to get an attorney on your side the less likely it is that you will rush into any big decisions with the settlement. See insurance companies realize that once you hire an attorney it becomes more difficult for them to settle the case with a minimal amount of money. They also know that in the personal injury cases that involve an impaired driver, there is a good chance that the driver has multiple infractions. In fact, typically the more information that gets released or discovered about the at-fault driver, the better off you are. It’s rare that time works against the victim in these types of personal injury cases. You just have to remember to be patient in those early days/weeks/months and let the process take place. Unfortunately, some people don’t know that this is a critical step to take when you’re involved in a DWI related car accident where the injuries you incurred were directly caused by an impaired driver. Some people rush the process end up speaking with their insurance company or the other parties’ insurance company and the result can lead to bad outcomes for you and your family.
The insurance companies on both sides are not your advocates. They are looking to minimize the financial exposure they may incur from the accident. They will push and try to convince you that settlement is in your best interest, and that settlement is typically much lower than what you deserve. We see this all the time with car accident injury cases where there is the potential for large damages against the insurance company. They will entice people with a low to moderate amount of money with the promise to pay it quickly.
Now, most people are dealing with financial difficulties and need the cash to keep paying their bills. Typically, you’ve had to take off of work because of your injuries and you’ve fallen behind on your mortgage or other bills, and getting a quick payout seems like the right choice. But ultimately, they are not doing you any favors, so seek out a personal injury lawyer in St. Louis who will advocate for you and work to get you the best settlement possible. We believe we are the best choice for that so we hope you choose us as you evaluate all the car accident lawyers in and around St. Louis.
The second reason why it’s important to hire an attorney right away is evidence discovery. Evidence is a crucial part of any personal injury case that is related to a car accident. When a DWI accident occurs the police will launch a criminal investigation against the suspect. They will be collecting evidence to try and prove that the impaired driver was over the legal limit as it relates to their blood alcohol content (BAC), so that they can file criminal charges against the driver. They may also file other criminal charges like involuntary manslaughter if someone was killed in the accident. At the time of the accident, they will be gathering as much evidence as they can from the scene and as time goes on they will collect more evidence within a few months after the accident. When you get an attorney involved he/she will also launch their own investigation into the accident and will seek to acquire the evidence from the police investigations. All that evidence will be extremely valuable when filing your personal injury lawsuit against the other driver.
How To Choose A DWI Accident Injury Lawyer
Deciding which DWI related car accident lawyer or auto accident attorney to work with can and will be a challenging decision for you and your family. Before deciding on one particular personal injury lawyer in St. Louis we advise you to speak with at least 2-3 different firms. If you have a strong case you will know it because every attorney you meet with will be willing to take on your case. However, not every attorney will be well suited to get you the best settlement for you and you might not get the kind of attention you require from all firms. When you’re interviewing different firms make sure you have done your homework and have a set of criteria that you are looking for in the attorney you ultimately hire. Throughout the years we’ve isolated some of the essential attributes of a good car accident attorney and we’ve built our practice around them. You might have additional characteristics that are important to you, and if so add them to this list and use it as you make your decision. Here are the top qualities to look for as you evaluate different lawyers for your DWI accident injury case:
- Accessibility – How available and accessible is the St. Louis DWI accident injury lawyer? Some personal injury attorneys spend too much time signing up new cases instead of managing the ones they are representing. You should ask your attorney how many new cases they take per year. Then ask them how many lawyers work at the firm. If it seems like the lawyer is spreading himself thin then he probably is and that will impact how much time he or she has for you. Personal injury lawyers will sometimes stack cases up, and then delay the proceedings until they have time, and the result is that you end up waiting unnecessarily. These personal injury lawyers will avoid you and push you off until they are ready to work your case.
- Expertise – Don’t just settle for any personal injury lawyer when it comes to a DWI accident injury case. You want a personal injury attorney who knows the law inside and out as it pertains to both personal injury law and criminal law. Since the DWI is a criminal matter, a good lawyer will know DWI law and use it to your advantage in your case. You want to find a car accident lawyer who knows how to deal with insurance companies with an iron fist.
- Integrity – Personal injury lawyers don’t have the best reputations, but not all personal injury firms are unethical and/or out to screw you. When you meet with the lawyers stay away from car accident injury lawyers who are trying to rush you into signing an agreement. They are just looking to get a piece of your car accident settlement as soon as possible. Hire a lawyer who wants to win, but isn’t willing to compromise his or her ethics along the way.
- Transparency – Honest lawyers have nothing to hide from their clients so you should ask upfront about what types of information will be shared with you as the case proceeds. Remember this attorney is acting on your behalf, so you should be aware of what’s going on in the case and be a part of any big decisions before they are made. Lawyers can have big egos, and they think they are doing their clients a favor by limiting the information that they share with the client. Try to stay away from these types of attorneys. A good lawyer is able to be upfront with his clients and is capable of explaining complicating matters to them so that they understand.
- Compassion – You’ve just been in a major car accident and you’re in a vulnerable position both physically and emotionally. Hiring a lawyer that can empathize with your situation is important. You want someone who will understand your needs and work with you to get the best outcomes in a realistic timeframe. A personal injury lawyer who treats you like a paycheck is one to avoid. Find someone who truly wants to work for you to help you get fairly compensated for your pain and suffering.
Why choose us as your DWI accident injury lawyer?
So we’ve just outlined all the core characteristics to look for when hiring a personal injury lawyer for your DWI car accident injury case. The next question is whether the Combs Law Group is your best options amongst all the other personal injury lawyers in St. Louis.
Again, hiring a personal injury attorney is not an easy decision. You have hundreds of lawyers to choose from in and around the St. Louis area, and all of them make similar claims and promises. So what is unique about us and what makes us different and better than the other personal injury lawyers you are evaluating? The fact is that if you’re like most people, you are trying to find a lawyer that will maximize your settlement amount. If one lawyer tells you he can get you a $100,000 settlement and the other tells you he can get you a $50,000 settlement, you’re probably going to pick the $100,000 lawyer, right? Here’s the thing though, no matter how good a personal injury lawyer is, he can’t promise you anything. All he can do is make an educated guess as to what you might get from your case.
The hard truth is that the amount of your settlement is mainly driven by the facts of your case and less by the skill of your attorney. Yes, of course, you want to hire a good attorney, but the primary factors in determining the dollar amounts will be the evidence and circumstances of the case in question. What most lawyers won’t tell you is that when it comes to the settlement amounts, the ability to negotiate with the insurance companies is a very crucial component. That’s because the amount of your settlement is going to be primarily based on the facts of your case. This is what we do well at Combs Law Group. We are highly skilled at negotiating on your behalf with the insurance companies. We know that insurance companies make decisions based on fear and if they fear big financial exposure, they will gladly payout to avoid the big hit in court. We’ve realized that in these DWI accident cases, the insurance companies are very fearful of going to court.
The other unique characteristic about Combs Law Group is that we are selective in the types of cases we are willing to take on. You will notice that other firms are involved in medical malpractice cases, and other areas of personal injury law. We focus solely on personal injury cases that involve auto accidents. That allows us to be 100% committed to our clients. So unlike other firms in town, we are willing to go that extra mile for our clients. Also, because we aren’t a volume-based firm we can assure you that you will have 24×7 access to your attorney. Whereas with other firms your case will likely be handled by an assistant and to speak with your attorney you will probably have to set up appointments with him or her.
What steps should you take immediately after a DWI car accident where I was injured?
Regardless of how serious the car accident is or whether anyone is injured the first thing you should do immediately after a car accident is to call the police. Upon arrival, the police will ask you and the other party some questions and possibly get any witness statements. The police officer will then provide you with the official crash report, which will be crucial in your case; so hold onto to this until you choose your personal injury lawyer.
Before the police arrive at the scene (and even after), don’t ever admit any kind of fault or liability to the other party or to the police. Do NOT say you’re sorry to the other driver at any point. Just ask them for their insurance information after confirming they are okay. The police officer will ask you to provide a statement about how the accident happened. You should answer truthfully, so ask the officer for a piece of paper so that you can write down what you recall from the accident. You will then keep this written recording after the police officer has copied it into the car accident report. If you have sustained injuries from the accident (even minor injuries), either call 911 immediately after the auto accident to get an ambulance or tell the police officer you want to get checked out in the hospital. So many people don’t want to make a big fuss over something like a sprained wrist, so they don’t mention it to a police officer or ask to get it treated by a medical professional. What they don’t realize at the time is that even a sprained wrist could be a major issue for them in the coming weeks. For instance, a sprained wrist could cause them to miss work for several weeks because they can’t type without a great deal of pain. That could mean lost wages, or having to use up vacation time unnecessarily. So don’t feel bad about asking to be seen by a medical doctor. Just make sure you get a full diagnostic evaluation for your injury, including any x-rays or MRI’s that may show physical damage to your body.
But the most crucial step you will make after you’ve gone home from the hospital will be to find yourself a qualified car accident lawyer. So if you are someone who was recently injured in a car accident and you believe the other party was at fault, call the Combs Law Group of Missouri. We are located in St. Louis, and handle mostly St. Louis car accident injuries, however, we also handle cases across the state of Missouri.
What information should I get when I’m in a car accident?
It’s in your best interest to gather as much information from the scene of the accident, while also providing as little information to the other party. Be honest and accurate with the police officer, but again avoid taking any responsibility. There are key pieces of information that could help your car accident attorney throughout the negotiation process. A personal injury lawyer is only as good as the information he has at his disposal. We are no different, so gathering as much detail after the accident will help us help you. Therefore, if you or a family member are capable of gathering some information, go ahead and write down the following information or notate it in your cell phone:
- Ask for their driver’s license and insurance information right away. You will want to write down their name(s), address information, and driver’s license number. It’s also handy to take a photo of their drivers license (front & back).
- Write down the license plate number of each car involved in the auto accident and take photos of the license plates as well.
- If there are witnesses at the scene, write down their names, phone numbers, and address information. If they give you statements, write them down and have them sign and date them.
- Photos are key pieces of evidence in most car accident injury lawsuits, so take photos of every car at multiple angles, and inside and outside. Take photos of the tire treads of each tire and take photos of the VIN number in the windshield. Some car accidents may have a starting point and an ending point, so in those cases make sure to take pictures of where the initial starting point of the car accident and any tire marks between in between the two points.
- Most cell phones today have built-in voice recorders, so we suggest you turn that on to record anything the other driver says and to capture anything the witnesses say. It could also help you recall what you said at the scene of the accident months down the road.
How do I deal with minor or major car accident injuries?
You’re driving to work one day and all of sudden someone rear-ends your car going 30 MPH. If you’re unlucky you suffer whiplash and unknown back injuries as well as face abrasions from the air-bag. If you’re lucky you just sprain a wrist and jammed a finger. Regardless, in both of these situations, you will want to get medical attention at the scene. Your insurance company or the other parties insurance company would prefer you not get medical attention because it will strengthen their position in a car injury settlement.
The insurance companies will always question your decisions when it comes to whether you go get medical treatment right after or you wait for weeks or months after the car accident. We advise you to go to the ER to get evaluated by a doctor. If that doctor doesn’t do extensive tests like x-rays or MRI’s you will want to get a referral to a specialist so you can get those done as soon as you are discharged from the ER. The insurance companies will have their own doctors on staff that will question why you didn’t get your injuries checked by a doctor quickly. Remember the insurance companies are not on your side, so you should avoid going to doctors they refer you to.
Lastly, if you don’t have your own medical insurance and will be required to pay out of pocket you have options to get some help. You could ask the medical provider or specialist to see you and set up a payment plan with them. You could also ask them to cover the cost until you get your car accident settlement. If we decide to take your case and you have not been seen by a medical specialist, we can help you by referring you to one of the doctors in our network.
What if I have serious injuries from the car accident?
At the Combs Law Group, we have seen many clients who have been in very serious car accidents. The fact is that the more serious the accident or the injuries the more important it is that you get a personal injury lawyer that knows car accident-related personal injury law. This is important because having a lawyer on your side allows you to focus on your own health.
It’s also important to get medical attention immediately after the accident or shortly thereafter. We see many clients come in several weeks or months after the accident complaining about neck or back pain that they believe is from the auto accident. Unfortunately the longer you wait, the harder it is for your lawyer to connect your injuries to the accident. So we suggest that you if you are even remotely injured in the accident you should go to the ER, your doctor, and any specialists to get tests run right away.
If you’re dealing with major injuries it’s important to adhere to all the recommendations the doctors make. Don’t put anything off because you think it might get better over time. That could result in an issue flaring up again in several months, and then you have to cover the medical costs.
How do I deal with the car insurance companies after the car accident?
After you’re involved in a car accident you should be prepared to deal with both your insurance company and the other parties insurance company. Keep in mind that the insurance companies are not on your side, including your own insurance company. Insurance companies hate personal injury lawyers and we typically don’t like insurance companies. We find in most cases that insurance companies don’t care about their customers. They are solely concerned with reducing the number of claims they have to payout while increasing the amount of the premiums they take in. Now don’t get us wrong, we are a for-profit organization and we offer our services with the hope of making money. However, our interests are aligned with our clients because the more money you make on the settlements the more money we make. So we are here to fight for your best interest, whereas insurance companies are out to trick or mislead you so that they can reduce the amount they have to pay out to you.
With that in mind let’s discuss what’s likely to happen once you get home from the accident or the hospital. First, you will probably get an introductory call from your insurance adjuster and the other parties insurance adjuster. Both of them will want to get a statement from you on what happened that caused the car accident. You are not obligated to give a statement no matter what the adjuster says on either end. You can simply tell them that you are not prepared to give a statement at the time and that you will be seeking legal counsel. Let them know that once you have obtained legal counsel they will be contacted by either you or the lawyer. Just remember that the insurance companies are trying to trick you into admitting fault or agreeing to a settlement. The one thing they don’t want you to do is to hire a car accident lawyer who will be working against them. If you don’t feel comfortable telling them “no I won’t answer your questions”, you should have a family member answer them and tell them that you’re still healing from the car accident and that you will call them back at a time that’s more convenient.
Bottom line is that insurance companies will do whatever they can under the law to reduce the amount of money they pay you for your pain and suffering, you lost wages, your medical bills or any other bills, and other costs related to your car accident.
Crucial Steps After A DWI Car Accident
There are definitely certain things you can do to make your process go smoother after you’re involved in a car accident. Unfortunately, most people don’t know these simple things to do and things to avoid. Here’s a list that you can check off as you go through the process:
- Call the police and get a car accident report from the officer at the scene. A DWI involved car accident is a crime scene, so getting the police involved right away will benefit you throughout the case. The more evidence they can
- Gather as much information from the scene as you can or have your family help you gather evidence from the scene.
- That night or the next day get a pen and paper and write down your exact recollection of the events that caused the accident. This will be very helpful in the future.
- Document or record as much of the car accident scene as well as record anything you or anyone else says after the accident.
- Seek medical attention immediately after the accident by going to the ER by way of an ambulance or having a family member take you there.
- Get copies of all documents related to the car accident such as medical records from the ER.
- When you get home start to collect all your paperwork including your insurance documentation. Get a notepad and start to keep notes about calls you have with your insurance company, the police, and any lawyers.
- Call and notify the insurance company that you were involved in an accident, but avoid telling them anything about fault
- Call your medical providers to let them know you have been in a car accident and that you would like to schedule an appointment to get checked out
- Begin your process of calling a few personal injury lawyers and meet them for a free case evaluation
- Try to avoid speaking with the other parties insurance company until you’ve hired your personal injury attorney
Tip: Write down your recollection of the events that happened during the motorcycle accident.
Most Common Car Accidents Causes
- Distracted Drivers: Distracted driving is the most common cause of car accidents in Missouri today. It causes more car crashes than speeding, drunk driving, and many other major accident causes. With the introduction of cell phones over the past 10 years the problem has only gotten worse. Unfortunately, the laws haven’t caught up with the technology, so many people still think it’s okay to text and drive. Many people will resort to hands-free talking on a cell phone, but studies show that even talking on the phone with hands-free can be a distraction. If it’s discovered that the other driver in your accident was texting or on the phone during the car crash, our car accident lawyers will utilize that in building your case.
- Speeding: One of the firsts things the police and the insurance companies will ask you after the accident is whether you were doing the speed limit. Even if you were slightly over the speed limit you should never state that you were over the stated limit. That, in essence, is assuming some fault in the accident. As your car accident attorney, we advise the best answer to give is that you think you were under the speed limit. You aren’t sure what speed you were going at the exact time of the accident, but it was probably under “X” MPH (the stated limit). The police or insurance will likely do an accident investigation to determine an approximate speed for both parties, so let them determine a number themselves.
- Drunk Driving: If you notice the other driver appears to be drunk or impaired at the time of the accident, you should definitely ask the police to evaluate them. Car accident cases that involve a drunk driver can be open and shut cases, but not always. Sometimes, there are instances where you could be held partially responsible in the accident. But it’s important to hire a personal injury lawyer who can help you determine whether it makes sense to pursue a case against the other party. Juries typically frown upon drunk drivers and can be very sympathetic to your situation even if you had some responsibility in the accident.
- Reckless Driving: Reckless driving is like a catchall term to describe several driving behaviors that increase the likelihood of having an accident. Switching lanes too quickly, not using your signals when changing lanes, cutting across several lanes of traffic, abruptly stopping for no reason, going really slow on a highway with a high-speed limit, and many other irresponsible driving behaviors. All these behaviors can also be classified as aggressive behavior where the driver has no concern for the safety of his passengers or the safety of the other drivers on the road. These elements can be a major factor in any personal injury case and it’s the job of a good car accident lawyer to prove that the other driver had no consideration for your safety and that’s why the accident took place, and why you were injured in the accident. At the Combs Law Group that is what we are really good at proving. When you hire us you will get a firm that will make the case that because of the other drivers reckless driving you incurred a great deal of cost.
DWI accident cases are unique, however, because even though you as the other driver may have been at fault for the accident, under Missouri law, the other driver assumes all responsibility because he/she was driving drunk behind the wheel. Therefore, you literally t-bone someone at a red light and if they were drunk it would be their fault because they weren’t supposed to be on the road in the first place.
What Should You Do Next?
The process starts by giving us a call to speak with an attorney right away. We can answer any initial questions you might have about our process or our firm. We would then setup a time for you to come into our office to discuss your case in detail. We can also do this remotely if needed. We are very flexible and will work with you to get all your initial questions answered. If we decide that you should move forward with a lawsuit we can begin discussing the best way to move forward. Call us today or fill out a contact form and we will get back to you right away.