When You Are The Victim Of An Impaired/Distracted Driver

If you have been in accident and the other driver was impaired and at fault, there are some things you should know about making your case to receive a successful settlement.

Types of Impairment

Impairment includes anything that causes an individual's mental faculties and/or physical abilities to deteriorate enough to affect their driving ability. The laws, names, and penalties of the charges may vary some but in nearly every state, a person can receive impaired driving charges for:

  • Talking or texting on a cellphone.

  • Being under the influence of illegal drugs.

  • Having a blood alcohol limit (BAC) at or above 0.08 (or having 0.02/0.05 BAC if under 21).

  • Being under the influence of OTC or prescription drugs that cause drowsiness, especially if combined with alcohol.

  • Having a medical condition affects one physically or mentally.

  • Being under the influence of marijuana.

Even if the defendant was not charged with anything, if the police are aware of any of these contributing factors, they will appear in the police report. You should obtain a copy of this for your lawyer to help your case.

If you noticed of these things before or after the accident, you should tell the police officer who has come to the scene:

  • The original driver switched places with another person in the car.

  • The driver smelled like alcohol or cannabis.

  • You saw the person using their cellphone while driving, or they appeared to be texting.

  • The occupants of the car appeared to hiding/disposing drugs or paraphernalia.

  • The driver appeared to be unsteady, incoherent, or "out of it," possibly indicating a health condition.

How an Impaired Driver can be held Responsible

If the other driver received an impaired driver charge, it wouldn't be the impairment that was considered the cause of the accident. It would be the negligence of the driver (which is due to their impairment at the time of the accident) that would be actionable, because each driver has an obligation to drive safely and obey the laws of the road.

For example, if you had to stop and the driver was texting while they were following you and ran into the back of your car, it would actually be the fact that they failed to stop that was the cause of your injuries and damages. However, their texting contributed to their negligent driving, so it is the two factors combined that will make a strong case – just the fact that the driver was impaired/distracted by itself would not.

How to Get the Best Settlement

A couple of final tips:  If the driver receives an impaired driver charge, follow up to see if the person was convicted. If they were, their insurance company may be more willing to offer a better settlement, rather than take their chances in court.

Since talking to insurance can be intimidating, you will want to hire a personal injury lawyer to help you. Attorneys have more experience and knowledge about what your case is worth, and would be able to negotiate to make sure you receive the best compensation for your injuries, your present (and future) medical bills, lost wages, and car repairs or replacement.

To learn more, contact a professional like Donald L Scales with any questions you have.