You should hire an attorney immediately before you talk to the other driver's insurance company. You can recover money from them not only for your injuries but also punitive damages due to the fact that the other driver was DUI. You should call an attorney asap.
Peter J. Ross
Ross & Pines, LLC
You're almost certain to have a smoother experience and a better result with an expert representing you in talks with the insurance company. The insurance company will not take you seriously if you are unrepresented. Call an accident attorney sooner rather than later!
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This is exactly the kind of collision for which you should meet with and hire a personal injury attorney. There are several things you should be taking into consideration. First, your health should be your primary concern. Since being discharged from the hospital, you should follow-up with your doctor if you are having any pain so that they can better treat you or refer you to an appropriate specialist. Please note your auto insurer will NOT assist you in bringing a personal injury claim.
As for your property damage claim, it sounds like your vehicle is probably totaled. Under Georgia law, you are entitled to the pre-accident fair market value of your vehicle. KBB, Edmunds, and other similar databases can be useful in negotiating that value with the at-fault driver's insurer. This is something with which your insurer may be of some assistance. If you have collision/comprehensive coverage, your insurer will pay for the fair market value of your car less your deductible. Also, since you still owed money on the car, the insurer will likely send the balance of your loan to your bank and the remainder, if any, to you.
It sounds like you are concerned the car is not worth what you still owe on it. Most likely, you put little to no money down on the purchase of the vehicle. The car has since depreciated faster than you've made payments and your are upside down on your loan. In that case, you hopefully had previously purchased gap insurance. As they name implies, it pays the "gap" between what you owe and what the car is worth in the event it is totaled. You should always purchase gap insurance when you take out a loan for most or all of the purchase price of a car.
Although a personal injury attorney's focus will be on your injury claim, s/he can also assist you with the property damage claim and explain your rights in more detail. Seek counsel immediately.
Get a lawyer immediately. Because this was a DUI there are potentially punitive damages. DUI accidents very often settle for liability limits if the at-fault driver has liability insurance. If the at-fault has any assets, those may also be at risk due to the punitive damages potential. There are many, many issues here, you need a lawyer now.
Am glad you weren't severely injured, and hope you have gotten the medical treatment you need. Absolute consensus is you need to hire and experienced personal injury attorney who handles car wrecks and DUI. A DUI in any by itself does not guarantee an award of punitive damages, but it's been my experience that more drivers who cause and accident while DUI have a prior DUI than those who are first time offenders. Depending on factors such as BAC, speed limit, etc., a jury may award punitive damages and if they do THEN prior DUI's come in, which tends to increase the punitive damages award. Another concern is whether the other driver was driving on a suspended license from a prior DUI (just happened with a family I represent) and his policy excludes coverage under those circumstances. In that case you look to your own UM coverage. As you can see, lots of variables to be considered, and I strongly, STRONGLY, recommend you hire an attorney before you do anything with the other driver's insurance adjuster.
Hopefully you have not spoken to the other driver's insurance company. Their goal is not to pay, or to underpay you. On average, you'll get about 80% less that way in a typical case than using a lawyer. It is important that you see a lawyer early in the process (that means now) and also that you get all needed medical care in a timely fashion. Before your vehicle is destroyed, take LOTS of photos. Consultations about accidents with most lawyers, such as myself, are free. Please feel free to contact me, or any of the lawyers here on AVVO, but do that soon.
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Yes you should get a lawyer in the Atlanta metro area that practices in this area & is available to help you in all of your car accident related claims. Pain is a funny thing that you never know if or how it will pop up. Hire an attorney to safeguard your rights & I hope you feel better.
Sam Levine, Esq.
Atlanta, Georgia Car Accident Injury Attorney
First, I am happy to hear nobody was injured more severely then you both were. DUI collisions with this type of impact rarely have happy endings. Secondly, as others have said, you should retain a personal injury attorney asap. In a DUI collision, you are entitled to many different types of damages that you would not otherwise be entitled to (punitive damages intended to punish the driver, for example), but it will take a skilled attorney to recover them. You may also be entitled to recovering attorney's fees depending on how the insurance company treats you during this process. Being able to get these types of damages can go a long way towards being able to offset the value of your car. In a DUI collision we recently handled, the victim in that car also was not injured too badly (one ER visit), but we were able to get the insurance company to surrender the entire value of their policy because of evidence we uncovered related to the at-fault DUI driver. That recovery ended up being many times worth what she otherwise would have recovered. While it's impossible to tell you what you are entitled to, an attorney will do much better for you, especially in this type of case, then you can recover for yourself. Lastly, choose an attorney who will handle your property damage claim as well, but will NOT charge you a fee to do that. Working with an attorney like that is another way to maximize the amount you put in your pocket at the end of the day. Good luck
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You have received some very competent answers to your question. I agree that you absolutely should retain counsel, and do so sooner rather than later; as soon as possible. Your own insurance company will potentially handle the damage to your car, total loss or otherwise, and pay for it less your deductible, and then subrogate against the at fault driver's carrier to recover what they paid, plus your deductible. But, unless the insurance carrier for the at fault driver is dragging their feet in handling the property damage to your car, it will probably be easier for you to deal with them.
Your own carrier will not assist you with the liability claim against the DUI driver who caused the wreck, however. If you had medical payments coverage available on your policy, that coverage will pay for your medical bills for treatment until the coverage is exhausted, and Georgia law does not allow them to increase your premiums for using that coverage as a result of a not-at-fault collision.
Again, however, your carrier will not assist you in pursuing the at fault DUI driver, except for the above.
As others have stated, there could be a claim for punitive damages here, based upon the facts, any prior DUI's the other driver may have, etc. Some liability policies exclude coverage for punitive damages, however, so this is a tricky area to navigate without qualified counsel.
You should consult with and retain a qualified attorney as soon as possible, and hopefully before you give any statement to the other person's insurance carrier. Good personal injury attorneys offer free consultations. You should call a few and figure out who you are comfortable with. We will be happy to speak with you, as would everyone who has answered this question.
DOUGLAS F. KALEITA, P.C.
Hire an attorney as soon as you can (don't wait), and direct the other driver's insurance company to your attorney.
James L. Yeargan, Jr. is licensed to practice law in the State of Georgia. All information given is based only on Georgia law, and is not directly applicable to any other jurisdictions, states, or districts. Any answer given assumes the person who asked the question holds a Georgia Drivers License, and this license is not a commercial drivers license (CDL). This response, or any response, is not legal advice. This response, or any response, does not create an attorney/client relationship. The response is in the form of legal education and is intended to provide general information. Any state specific concerns should be directed to an attorney who is licensed to practice law in that respective state.
yes. You need an attorney right away. Your insurance will do nothing for your medical expenses, lost wages, pain, and suffering in most instances. You need to collect that from the at-fault party's insurance and you need to understand insurance litigation as well as their lawyers do in order to get what you are entitled to.
I answer your question in my podcast on the link below.
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First - don't make any statements before you get an attorney to represent you. After you have an attorney the first advise you receive will be, don't make any statements!!! Remember, the at fault driver's insurance company is trying not to pay you any money! Any statement you give could work against you.
Second - a little known issue with a DUI related accident is the availability of Punitive Damages against the convicted DUI driver. An experienced attorney is your best chance to receive fair compensation for your loss from the collision.
Finally, don't be in a huge hurry to settle your case. Make sure that you are completely certain that you don't have any lasting medical problems as a result of the collision. You could be left paying for any medical problems that remain if you settle your case to quickly.
I hope this information is helpful to you. Good Luck!!!
George McCranie www.mccranielawfirm.com
The information provided in this response to a question is not legal advise and is provided only for general information purposes. My response should not be taken as legal advise as no attorney / client representation exists. Additionally, the information given in this answer is specific to the State of Georgia only and should not be applied to any other state.
Yes you need a lawyer. When a drunk driver causes a wreck it allows the person struck, you, to pursue damages for your medical bills, pain, property damage, and punitive damages. Because the other driver was drunk you should be seeking a policy limit resolution, as in more money than you might have expected, and generally the insurance company of the drunk driver will want to settle because juries are more willing to side with you here.
Please talk with a personal injury attorney before discussing your case with the insurance company. You will likely get a much better result to compensate you for your property loss and damages for your injuries.
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