When someone is injured, it is already a difficult situation. However, when you are victim of a crime like drunk driving and get hurt, the effect can shake your faith in other humans and those on the roads. Clients involved in these collisions 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 stop light 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”. This can make recovery a little easier because the insurer knows that they do not have any good arguments against liability.
Sometimes, the conduct is more egregious. One such situation is any case involving a drunk or drugged 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 there 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 being hit by a drunken driver can case. The term for this is “enhanced compensatory damages”. In a lot of drunk driving injury cases, enhanced damages can be awarded. A similar analysis can be done on driver’s texting while driving, which has become a major issue driving in the past 15 years.
It is very important to understand these factors as you decide who to best represent your interests. At Parnell, Michels & McKay, we have been practicing in injury law for a combined 40 years between our injury attorneys. If you are hurt in an accident, contact us and put our years of experience and expertise to use.