Unfortunately, drunk drivers kill and injure more than 1,500 Iowans each year. These are different than your “normal” car accident because the other driver was under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. Often the other driver will be charged criminally, and you could be required to testify in court against him/her. There are other things to consider such as:
1. What if the drunk driver only has state policy minimums of $20,000 per crash?
2. Is there a way I can collect get more than just the policy limits of the drunk driver?
3. What are they and how do I get punitive damages against the drunk driver?
The above questions are just part of the conversation that we have with our clients who are facing these difficult issues. Unfortunately, often the drunk driver is not financially responsible and may have had drunk driving charges before. Often they will have the cheapest insurance that they can buy which will mean the state minimum in policy limits. If they are insured by a company such as Viking Insurance or The General among many other companies, this likely means they were on high-risk insurance and may have only $20,000 in personal injury coverage per crash.
What can you do if the drunk driver does not have enough insurance?
Well, there are really two different ways to go. First of all, hopefully, you have purchased $250,000 or more of what is called UIM (underinsured motorist coverage) which is the only coverage that protects you and your family financially from drivers with low policy limits. Secondly, you could sue the drunk driver, get a judgment and then try to collect upon the amount of the judgment above the policy limits. As a general rule, if the drunk driver is convicted of OWI in relation to your crash, they are not allowed to discharge a judgment related to the crash in bankruptcy. However, even with a judgment, it can be difficult to track down assets, garnish wages and ultimately collect on the money that you are owed.
These are just some of the legal issues when dealing with a drunk driver car crash. Even if you feel comfortable talking to the insurance adjusters on your own, you should consider at least consulting with a qualified Iowa car accident attorney. For example, you do not just want to accept the policy limits offer from the drunk driver’s insurance company without first providing information and requesting permission from your own insurance company first. Failing to do this properly can result in your insurance company taking the position that even though you have the coverage they do not owe you anything because they were “prejudiced”.
Also, you have to deal with the subrogation claims. These can be hospitals trying to get paid the full amount, your health insurance company, or even your own car insurance company if you used your medical payments portion of your car insurance.
You do not need an attorney for every case involving a drunk driver. For example, if your injuries were minor and you were fine within a few weeks, then you may be able to handle that case on your own. However, if you sustained more serious injuries such as broken bones, required surgery, extensive physical therapy, pain management treatment, have permanent scarring, etc. then it makes sense to have someone watching out for you to make sure that you are protected, don’t make a costly mistake and you get the compensation that you should receive.
Hiring a qualified Iowa car accident attorney leading you through the process will not only relieve your stress but also will likely result in more money for you. Once an experienced Iowa car accident attorney has the accident report, your medical records, and various other documentation, they should be able to give you a pretty good idea of what an average Iowa jury in the county where your case would be heard would do. Below is a list of some of the things that an Iowa injury attorney should do in your case:
1. Deal with the insurance adjusters on your behalf;
2. Investigate your case which including hiring a private investigator to track down and interview witnesses;
3. Obtain your medical records and bills from your doctors, physical therapist, hospitals, etc.
4. Talk to your doctors to make sure that all of your injuries caused by the car crash are properly documented and compensated
5. Have all contact with and deal with the subrogation claims that will come in your case in order to put the most amount of money in your pocket possible;
6. Send letters to and deal with any collection companies that your medical bills may have been sent to;
7. Explain the Iowa car accident legal process and help you decide which way is the best way to move forward with your case. For example, try to settle or just file suit;
8. Send you copies of letters, timely answer your phone calls and emails and give you updates about your;
9. And much, much more explained in our Iowa Car Accident book. We offer this book at no cost or risk to you because we have seen far too many Iowans injured in car accidents involving drunk drivers who made a costly mistake in their case before they had the right information.
Note: Before you even call an attorney to discuss your case, you should look at what past clients have said about them at www.Avvo.com and/or on Google. Also, you should be able to find or the attorney should be able to provide you with some of their past results on their webpage. We have compiled some videos of what our prior clients have to say about how we treated them. Click Here. To review some of our results in car accident cases Click Here.
If you would like to speak with one of our attorneys sooner, rather than later we will provide you with a car accident review at no cost or risk, just call 641-792-3595. We will give you our advice about whether you even need an attorney or not, answer your questions, and generally give you information about how the Iowa personal injury process works.
Not ready to talk to an attorney? This is perfectly normal which is why we offer our book "The Legal Insider's Guide to Iowa Car Accidents: 7 Secrets to Not Wreck Your Case" at no cost or risk to you. Our books explain what we have already discussed in more detail; gives you tips about how to find the best car accident attorney for you; explains what damages may be available to you in your case (for example pain and suffering, loss of full mind, and body, loss of consortium, etc.); and much, much more.
Finally, you can now learn about car accidents in the comfort of your own home so request your copy of our Iowa Car Accident book now.