Ross Law PDX recently resolved a case where our client was hit by a DUII driver. The driver was out drinking and decided to drive home. While he was driving his blood alcohol concentration was well over the legal limit. The speeding drunk driver ran a stop sign and T-Boned my client’s car. The crash totaled my client’s vehicle. The DUII driver then attempted to flee, but pulled over minutes later. The DUII driver was then arrested and charged with DUII and Reckless Driving. While the DUII driver was spending the night in jail, our client was at Urgent Care getting treatment for his injuries. The crash caused ourclient to suffer soft tissue injuries (neck and back strain) which thankfully healed in a short amount of time. Our client brought Ross Law on board and we were able to obtain the DUII Driver’s $25,000.00 policy limits very shortly after letting them know of our representation. This is not an unusual scenario in DUII crash cases. However, these cases are unique and many victims of DUII drivers are often getting less than they are entitled to simply because of confusion about their rights and obligations. The following five things should assist DUII victims in ensuring they receive maximum compensation for their losses:
1) You Have a Right to Receive A Police Report & Other Information: One of the first things that victims want to know is what happened to cause their injuries. Clients often say, “I don’t understand how he/she could have been so drunk and still driving.” Getting a police report helps victims learn what happened. It also helps them evaluate a civil case against the DUII Driver. The vast majority of the time the District Attorney will not release a police report while the case is pending under any circumstances. This is one exception to that rule. The law mandates that the District Attorney’’s Office must provide a report to victims or their lawyers if it is requested. See ORS 135.857.
2) The District Attorney Does Not “Represent” The Victim: The District Attorney’s job is to prosecute the DUII driver. This means that they will ensure that the DUII driver is either convicted of DUII or brought to trial for DUII. If the DUII driver is convicted of DUII, then the District Attorney may ask all victims involved if they are seeking restitution. This does not mean that the District Attorney is the victim’s lawyer. It simply means that the District Attorney (“DA”) is doing their job to ensure that the victims receive criminal restitution they are entitled to. This distinction is important to remember, because many people believe that the DA is also helping them with an “insurance claim” or getting compensation. Simply put, that is not he District Attorney’s job. That is what personal injury lawyers and crime victim lawyers such as Ross Law PDX do. This must be clear because the victims may limit their compensation if they do not exercise all of their rights. Click here to learn more about the difference between the district attorney and a civil attorney.
3) Criminal Restitution is Not the Same as Compensation in a Civil Case: Many times the District Attorney will send DUII victims a letter requesting if they are seeking “restitution.” Many people are confused about these letters and notices. Additionally, some DUII victims believe that seeking restitution is the same as pursuing a civil claim against the DUII driver. These are very different things. Criminal restitution is very limited. Criminal Restitution only covers “economic damages” caused by the defendant. Economic damages are defined as “objectively verifiable monetary losses.” These are often referred to as “out of pocket expenses.” Things like medical bills, burial expenses, lost income, costs to repair property, and insurance deductibles are routinely covered. See ORS 137.106(1) and ORS 31.710(2)(a). However, things like pain, suffering, frustration, anxiety, interference with activities of daily living are not recoverable as criminal restitution. These are non-economic damages. The DA has to make a claim for restitution within 90 days of sentencing, so it is important to communicate with the DA promptly if you are seeking restitution.
4) Insurance Companies Will Still Cover A DUII Crash: There are many instances when an insurance company refuses to provide coverage for an incident due to the insured’s conduct. However, the vast majority of the time an insurance company will still provide insurance coverage for a DUII crash. This is important because it allows the injured victims to receive compensation for pain and suffering in addition to their economic losses.
5) A DUII Crash Case is Worth More than a Regular Case: Insurance companies evaluate make their money by evaluating risk. They do their best to attempt to figure out what a Jury may award the victim of a DUII driver. This can be difficult because of the risk of punitive damages and the fact that the Jury may simply award the victim a substantial amount of money because the driver was impaired at the time of the crash. As a result, insurance companies will usually pay more to a victim of a DUII driver.
If you or someone you know has been injured in a crash with an Oregon DUII driver or impaired driver you should call Ross Law PDX at 503.224.1658 for your free personal injury consultation. Oregon Personal Injury and Wrongful Death attorney Jeremiah Ross is happy to discuss your options. Please remember that case results vary and the law is constantly changing. Please contact a personal injury lawyer rather than relying on this post. Also this post could be considered ATTORNEY ADVERTISING.