4 Tips to Know Before You are in a Crash Caused by a Drunk Driver
Seek Medical Treatment
Make sure you seek medical treatment immediately if you are injured in a car wreck with a drunk driver. The insurance companies’ mantra is, “If you don’t treat, you are not hurt.” Follow-up with your medical provider as needed or requested.
Get Your Bills Paid
To get your initial medical bills paid, start a claim for personal injury protection or “PIP” insurance benefits with your own car insurance company. If you were a passenger in someone else’s car, that person’s auto insurance company should provide PIP benefits. If you were injured by a drunk driver while you were a pedestrian, there may also be PIP benefits through the drunk driver’s auto insurance policy. PIP coverage can also help with wage losses if you are out of work for a bit. Read How Does Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Insurance Work in Oregon? for more information.
Get Compensated for Your Human Losses
To get compensation for your human losses, what the law refers to as noneconomic damages (losses such as mental suffering and distress, physical pain, and impairment in your day-to-day activities), you need to make a claim against the parties who are legally at fault for causing those losses. Talk with an attorney before you contact the at-fault driver’s insurance company, as they will record what you say and will try to use your statement against you. You are not required to give a statement to an adverse insurer, and it is generally against your best interests to do so.
Punitive Damages Can Help Your Case
Punitive damages can be sought in drunk driver crash cases. These damages are designed to punish the at-fault driver and make an example of them so that others are discouraged from engaging in the same kind of irresponsible conduct. Although the at-fault driver’s insurance company generally will not pay for punitive damages, seeking punitive damages can still help your case as they increase the overall value of your case and improve the odds of winning a case if it has to be tried. But please keep in mind that if punitive damages are included in a judgment after a trial, the State of Oregon takes 70% of the punitive damages portion of the judgment.
The Corson & Johnson Law Firm is experienced in bringing legitimate punitive damages claims to help survivors get a fair resolution of their cases. In the relatively rare punitive damages case that goes through a full jury trial, an experienced injury attorney can help try to work out a post-trial resolution that allows the injured survivor to receive more of the verdict amount instead of having the State take its claimed 70% share of the punitive damages.