Getting injured is unfortunate enough as it is, but sometimes someone is hit by a drunk driver, or someone speeding, or someone texting and driving and it can compound the injury. People involved in such accidents can suffer from increased anxiety, and become very fearful of driving after the accident. These folks not only suffer from their injuries, but also from the fact that another person was committing a crime when they were hurt. Ultimately, we get asked, how does this affect my case?
The answer, like most in the legal field, is that it depends. Things like crossing a yellow line, speeding through a stoplight or stop sign, or something as simple as failing to yield to oncoming traffic are all violations of the Rules of the Road in New Hampshire. These are ultimately criminal violations, but they are often not charged. Many clients become concerned that the person that hit them was “getting away with something”, and they want to know what can be done.
If a case goes to trial, we here at Parnell, Michels & McKay always explore the rules and regulations in the State where the accident occurred to see if there is a statutory violation. If so, we plead the violation of the statute as a cause of action. If proven this helps establish “negligence per se”, which we have touched on previously in our series. This can make recovery a little easier because the insurer knows that they do not have very good arguments against liability.
Sometimes, the conduct is more egregious. One such situation is any case involving a drunk driver. If the person pleads guilty to the driving while intoxicated (DWI), then we can use that plea in Court to help prove liability. More importantly though, when a drunk driver causes an accident their victims generally suffer from increased anxiety and fear when driving again. The thought is always in the back of their mind that any person on the road could be drunk. When we proceed forward with litigation on these cases, we always keep it in mind because people obviously do not like drunk drivers. This factors into our analysis on what a potential jury would do. This can increase potential recoveries because juries can understand the increased anxiety and suffering of being hit by a drunken driver. A similar analysis can be done on driver’s texting while driving, which has become a major news story over the past ten years.