There is a lot of misinformation and confusion about how insurance companies determine the amount to pay in a car accident claim. Some people think the worse the behavior, the higher the value. Others focus solely on medical expenses. In truth, the value is a complex element of a case, which requires looking at a case in a holistic way. One of the most common misconceptions is that the victim will receive more money because the other driver was intoxicated. Though possible in some cases, this is not an automatic fact.
At the Springs Law Group, we carefully evaluate each case to determine how best to help our clients achieve fair and just compensation for their injuries. To better understand how the value of a case is determined, consider the following points.
Impaired Driving Applies to Liability, Not Damages
To prove your case and be compensated for injuries, you must prove several things. First, you must prove the other driver was responsible for causing the accident. This is known as “liability.” Second, you must prove that the accident caused your injuries. Third, you must show that as a result of those injuries you’ve incurred some sort of financial or personal loss. These are known as “damages.”
The fact that the other driver was under the influence of alcohol is very strong evidence of liability because it generally shows the other driver was reckless and disregarded the rules of the road by breaking the law. Of course, this alone is not enough to prove your case. You still have to show that the impaired driver caused the crash. If you were speeding and rear-ended a drunk driver, the fact he or she was under the influence will not be enough to prove liability.
Further, no matter how drunk someone is, in the vast majority of cases, that fact alone has little to do with the cost or extent of injuries. Therefore, at least as far as the law is concerned, the other driver’s intoxication is not relevant to your damages. It’s only useful for proving who was at fault.
Impaired Driving May Make a Difference to a Jury
While the law does not necessarily allow you to introduce evidence of the other driver’s impairment for the purposes of proving the extent of your injuries, you can usually introduce this evidence for the purpose of proving the other driver was at fault. Once the jury hears the evidence, it is likely they will be more inclined to return a favorable verdict. Therefore, while not directly relevant to the value of your case, many jurors will award larger verdicts when evidence of the at-fault driver’s intoxication is introduced.
How Likely is it that a Jury Will Hear About the Other Driver’s DUI/DWI?
Insurance companies and their high-priced attorneys will work hard to exclude the evidence, arguing it isn’t relevant or even admitting to liability and only fighting on the element of damages. Colorado jury instructions provide clear instructions about what can and cannot be introduced in a civil jury trial, and our office routinely leverages the collective skills and experience of our attorneys to fight against these tactics in an effort to maximize compensation for clients who are injured in Colorado auto accidents.
Call Springs Law Group Today!
If you are suffering from injuries after a crash, call a local Pueblo and Colorado Springs personal injury firm that can aggressively pursue justice for you and your family. For a free consultation, call or visit the Springs Law Group today.
Jacob Kimball is a Civil Litigation and Personal Injury Attorney who practices in Colorado Springs, CO. He graduated from the Ohio State Moritz College of Law, and has been practicing law for 13 years now. Jacob Kimball firmly believes in fighting for the injured. Learn more about his experience here.