Drunk driving accidents can result in devastating crashes. Although the drunk driver may walk away unscathed, the victims in the collision may well be left with serious and permanent injuries or even death. You could be hospitalized, facing months of doctors’ visits and rehabilitation.
The Schatten Law Firm vigorously fights for justice and the rights of individuals that were harmed by a drunk driver. Having seen the devastating consequences, including the loss of a friend caused by a drunk driver, Mr. Schatten personally understands the serious nature of drunk driving accidents. Mr. Schatten has over twenty-two (22) years of litigation experience and has been named a Colorado Super Lawyer both in 2020 and 2021 an award given to the top 5% of lawyers in the state.
A drunk driver that has been arrested for drinking and driving in violation of the legal limit should face criminal charges under Colorado law. Under Colorado law, depending on the severity of the case, an intoxicated driver can receive stiff penalties for a criminal conviction in an alcohol driving related offense.
In addition to the criminal justice system, the drunk driver who is at fault for the auto accident can be held liable to pay compensatory damages and punitive damages in a civil lawsuit and/or with the drunk driver’s insurance company.
By retaining the Schatten Law Firm, we will go right to work investigating the alcohol related accident. We have significant experience handling drunk driving accident claims. We will investigate the Defendant’s criminal history and driving record to evaluate whether the intoxicated drinker had prior DUIs and traffic violations. We will seek discovery from the criminal case that can offer important evidence concerning the Defendant’s blood alcohol concentration levels, field sobriety tests, witness and police officer statements and potentially identify where the defendant was drinking.
We will also look for video surveillance footage of the accident including on traffic cameras or stores that have video surveillance. The drunk driver may try to escape responsibility by fleeing the scene in a hit and run. The police may still be able to track the drunk driver down. If the drunk driver flees the scene, and is unable to be located, your uninsured/underinsured motorist policy should provide coverage for the collision.
It is important to retain a tough and strong lawyer as soon as possible to preserve important evidence for your motor vehicle accident. Evidence can disappear if its not properly preserved.
Drinking and driving in violation of Colorado law is reckless, dangerous and criminal. Alcohol clouds an individual’s judgment, impairs concentration, harm’s motor coordination, blurs vision and slows reaction time. The dangers of drinking and driving are well explained in this NHTSA article.Yet, despite the well known risks and dangers, individuals continue to get behind the wheel and drink and drive.
In 2019, 10,142 lost their lives due to drunk drivers. On average, 28 people die a day in the United States as a result of drunk driver. Over the last few years, alcohol-impaired driving is responsible for an alarming 28% of all traffic related deaths. In 2019, Colorado police made 8,513 DUI arrests which was a 12% increase over the prior year.
In a drunk driving collision, a victim can sustain injuries that can include:
Insurance adjusters can try to bait an unsuspecting drunk driving accident victim into a quick, lowball settlement within days of an accident. There is an important book about the dark side of insurance called – From Good Hands to Boxing Gloves: The Dark Side of Insurance. The bottom line – the insurance adjuster is not your friend.
The insurance company knows they may have large financial exposure in a drunk driving accident case. Thus, it is very important to avoid speaking with the insurance adjuster. You should immediately retain a tough and strong personal injury lawyer. Once a lawyer is retained, the insurance company is then prohibited from speaking with you further about your case.
We fight so that our clients will recover the past, present and future medical bills, pain and suffering, emotional trauma, permanent impairment, lost wages and other damages to compensate for the harms and losses they sustained in the accident. In addition to compensatory damages, we also battle for punitive damages which are known in Colorado as exemplary damages. These exemplary damages are designed to punish the drunk driver for engaging in behavior that was criminal, reckless and dangerous. These punitive damages can add significant additional financial value for a personal injury case.
It’s also wise for the lawyer and client to think about strategy for a case based on punitive damages/exemplary damages. Often, insurance policies will not provide coverage for punitive damages. The policy will just provide coverage for compensatory damages. Although there may not be insurance coverage, making a strong case for punitive damages can put the Defendant on his or her heels. The Defendant may decide to hire their own independent defense counsel to put pressure on the insurance carrier to settle the case. The bottom line is that punitive damages can be a strong arrow in the quiver of an individual that has sustained injuries by a drunk driver. But, good strategy and caution should also be exercised to maximize pressure on the insurance carrier if there is insurance coverage in the case.
Insurance is an important matter in a drunk driving accident case. Some drunk drivers have limited insurance with minimal policy limits (Colorado minimum of $25,000) or have no insurance. They may also have few assets. It is important that you hire the right DUI accident lawyer for your case to make sure that a proper investigation is done to explore all potential insurance policies. Leave no rock unturned. Also, if you have your own insurance policy that can provide additional coverage under uninsured/uninsured motorist policy and stack on top of the at fault driver’s insurance policy under Colorado law.
You may also be able to bring a claim against a restaurant, bar, hotel, business, sports arena or social host that served the individual while they were visibly intoxicated or if the drunk driver was under twenty-one (21). The Colorado Dram Shop Law is codified at Colorado Revised Statute Section 12-47-801.
It’s important to keep in mind the one year statute of limitations for the Colorado Dram Shop law. Often, there is a three year statute of limitations for motor vehicle accidents. But, if you also want to bring a Dram Shop claim against a business or social host that served alcohol to the drunk driver, then that claim has to be brought within one year of such sale or service of the alcohol.
At the Schatten Law Firm, we hold the drunk driver accountable in your personal injury lawsuit. We fight hard to ensure that our client gets maximum compensation. We settle cases in both pre-litigation without having to file a lawsuit and in litigation. Litigation allows us to discover significant evidence. This can include taking the deposition of the drunk driver and other witnesses and obtaining important documents. Witnesses may well have seen the driver drinking before the collision.
By being tough and aggressive with litigation, in some cases, we have been able to recover tens of thousands dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars more than the pre-suit offer. We can potentially double, triple, quadruple or even get a higher multiple then the pre-suit offer. We are able to deliver powerful results for drunk driving accident victims because we prepare cases well, fight hard in litigation and have built a strong track record being among the best drunk driving accident lawyers in Colorado.
We are also not a settlement mill. Unlike some firms, we do not take on hundreds to thousands of personal injury cases a year. We focus on small number of clients and prepare our cases well. Our track record clearly demonstrates that being with a tough and aggressive lawyer is important to getting a strong result in a drunk driving accident case.
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