Generally, personal injury cases settle when insurance companies foresee that if they do not settle the claim for a certain amount, a jury will likely award considerably more at trial. The most valuable cases at our personal injury firm involve motor vehicle crashes where the at-fault drivers were not simply inattentive, but outright reckless (i.e. intoxicated driving accidents or texting while driving). With Colorado’s recent legalization of marijuana, Colorado drivers are more likely to drive while impaired and there will be more instances of grossly reckless auto collisions.
Because of the likely future increase in drug or alcohol-related collisions in Colorado, personal injury lawyers and their clients need to truly appreciate the value of these claims. My concern is that oftentimes, the injured client and the attorney handling the case drink the Kool-Aid distributed by the insurance industry and fail to recognize just how valuable these cases can be.
Insurance companies trained their employees to look at limited criteria to determine the value of a claim. As a result, the nuances of each particular case often get missed. From my experience as a personal injury trial attorney, jurors become outraged when they learn that my clients were injured in a collision because the driver used drugs or alcohol (sometimes both) and decided to recklessly endanger everyone else on the road.
Any insurance adjuster or insurance lawyer who tries to tell you that you should ignore the reckless conduct of the at-fault driver and only focus on the extent of your injuries in determining the value of your case clearly hasn’t tried a case with aggravated liability (cases involving drunk or impaired drivers) in front of a jury. The extent of your injuries is often of little concern to an outraged jury. Jury outrage usually means larger verdicts for injured victims. The jury has a right to be outraged. After all, that same drunk driver could have injured that same juror or their family. It often takes the jury becoming upset to force the insurance company to pay fair compensation to the injured victim.
To be clear, I am not suggesting that folks should get compensation for injuries from insurance companies if they were not actually injured. The extent of your injury still matters. No matter how drunk a defendant is, a case only has value if the drunk driver caused someone injury. And sometimes, a jury gives no money to even the most catastrophically injured plaintiff. So in litigation, there are never any guarantees. Nevertheless, if you are slightly or severely injured because of an impaired driver, the insurance company should not treat your case like any run of the mill personal injury claim.
In our office, we file lawsuits on aggravated liability cases with greater frequency, and we file them much earlier in the process, and the results are usually very favorable for our clients.
If you are injured by a driver who smoked pot or drank alcohol before getting behind the wheel of a car, you should not hire an attorney who treats you like you are part of some personal injury conveyor belt. Specialized attention should be devoted to your case because the stakes are higher and outraged juries award larger verdicts. Call Anderson, Hemmat & McQuinn today for a free personal injury consultation.