The value of an accident caused by driving under the influence (DUI) is a function of several variables, which I’ve discussed in a related post. A lawyer arriving at a settlement figure for a DUI Case typically considers these factors when resolving an accident caused by driving under the influence. This post will address the drinking driver’s history for prior DUI’s and its impact on settlement valuation here in Midtown Atlanta and Fulton County.
Intoxicated Driver’s History for Prior DUI’s. The value of a settlement is directly related to what we expect a jury to award under the same factual circumstances. This is because juries set the value of a case since they are the ultimate decision makers on the value of any disputed claim. If a case cannot be settled, then the parties proceed to a jury trial. A jury then resolves the question of how much money a DUI case is worth. Hence, when a personal injury lawyer and an insurance company negotiate a settlement figure, they are arguing over their opinion as to how a Fulton County Jury here in Atlanta would react under the same facts presented by the claim. A prior history for driving under the influence dramatically increases the value of a claim for an accident caused by drinking and driving. This is because society has determined that driving under the influence is bad behavior, which should be punished. Juries are a microcosm of societal opinion. Therefore, juries punish DUI drivers driving under the influence because they find drunk driving unacceptable. This punishment results in higher awards in the form of punitive damages.
When taking a case where an accident has was caused by driving under the influence, the personal injury lawyer’s first task is to identify prior DUI arrests. An experienced personal injury lawyer should detect clues as to whether the drunk driver is a “pro” (a driver who has had prior DUI’s). The most telling clue is that after an accident caused by a driver under the influence, the drunken driver refuses the field sobriety test and breathalyzer test. In my experience, only pros refuse these tests since they’ve learned the hard way from prior DUI arrests that consenting to a roadside sobriety tests increase their chances of being convicted for a DUI. There are other clues, which depend on the facts of the accident. An experienced lawyer who handles these cases should know where to look. If not, she’ll miss very important information about whether a drunk driver is a pro and will miss an opportunity to greatly improve the settlement value of a claim.