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Bill Powers and Mike Daisley: Evaluating Damages From DWI

Posted by attorney F. Powers

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Mike: Hi, I'm Mike Daisley. I'm with Dailsey Law and I'm here with my good friend Bill Powers with Powers McCartan. We're here to talk to you about the dangers of drunk driving and the consequences, the damages that often occur with drunk driving here in North Carolina. Bill, you deal on the criminal side of it, representing people who have been accused of drunk driving. I represent people who have been harmed by drunk driving. You might think that's a conflict but actually we compliment our practices pretty well, that's actually why we're under one roof although they're separate practices. But Bill, in your situation, what are some of the harms that you see that will take place in a DWI situation?

Bill: Right. And even though I do a lot of criminal DWI, it doesn't mean that we suddenly forgot our knowledge base and can't apply it to a civil case. Driving while impaired by its very nature means that someone is impaired, meaning they've lost control of their normal faculties. In the criminal aspect we call it "appreciable impaired" or "appreciably impairment". Now, when you drive a 3000-4000 pound vehicle it's important that you have your wits about you and so alcohol is a central nervous system depressant and depressants tend to cause you to slow down. So your reaction times may be slow or you may not recognize that a light turned red instead of green. You may not be able to focus on maintaining line control. You may not be able to judge the distance between you and the other vehicle. And unlike any other type of accident which is serious enough, I mean when you've got the mass and the weights of these different vehicles, if the person behind the vehicle is unable to control that mass or that weight, we see real serious consequences. Mike, what are some of the things that you look for in setting what the value of the claim is? Is it just medical bills, is it lost wages?

Mike: Well you start of course with the harm to the person, but oftentimes just in terms of the practical standpoint, the same harm could be done by someone who certainly didn't intend any harm, may be coming back from a church social and was looking down at the cookies that she was bringing back from the church social. That case just practically has less value than someone who wilfully engaged in drink after drink after drink and got behind the wheel when they shouldn't have. Even though the damages "are the same". But one of the things that you have to look at in drunk driving cases, when a drunk driving victim comes to me, is the type of coverage that's available. Oftentimes the drivers may not have any insurance or may not have enough insurance and this is something that you have to deal with in looking at uninsured motors coverage, underinsured motors coverage. Maybe there's this something we call a dram shop case in which a third party, a grocery store who sold it to an underage person or a restaurant or bar that's sold the liquor, the beer to a knowingly drunk person, there might be some additional liability there. So those are some of the additonal issues you get from a civil standpoint. And you see these from your criminal law practice.

Bill: Right. I think it's important to point out that we don't ever represent the person who may be impaired driving who then hits someone else. We take great care to avoid any conflicts of interest. If you or someone you care about has been either charged with driving while impaired or maybe hit by an impaired driver, please give us a ring. In both instances the consultation is free and confidential and we want to make sure that our separate firms, even though we're under the same roof, our separate firms don't represent the same parties. Either way we're here to help. Give us a ring, we'll love to talk to you.

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