According to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 2,597 people were killed in United States traffic accidents in December 2010. Of those, 775 deaths involved alcohol-impaired drivers. A 2006 study by the NHTSA estimated that there is one drunk driving fatality in the United States every 30 minutes.
Georgia's Driving Under the Influence Laws are complex. Clayton County DUI injury attorney Shane Smith can sort through the intermingled laws that potentially create complications in a DUI case.
Georgia DUI accident victims can hurt their chances of receiving a favorable settlement or verdict. An experienced Clayton County DUI accident attorney would recommend securing legal representation and avoiding the following actions:
- Refusing medical treatment at the accident scene
An argument can be made that the effects of the accident were not immediately felt. However, it is easier for insurance adjusters or defense attorneys to argue that pain felt later was unrelated to the accident if immediate medical attention was not sought by the victim.
- Telling police officers at the scene that there are no injuries and there is no pain
Police reports become part of the record and will be used by defense attorneys or insurance adjusters. Just as with refusal to receive medical attention, a victim hurts his case if he tells law enforcement officers that he is unhurt.
- Giving a recorded statement to the DUI driver's insurance representatives without being accompanied by an attorney
An insurance adjuster's goal is to minimize the amount the insurance company must pay. Adjusters know that a victim may be overwhelmed by an accident's financial impact. This includes medical costs, lost wages and vehicle repairs or replacement. It is at that point when a victim seems most helpless that an adjuster has the best chance of making a settlement offer for less than the accident is worth. Having an experienced Clayton County DUI accident attorney representing the victim can save the case.
Insurance companies understand that there is no objective way to evaluate the financial value of an auto accident's legal claim. A payment should not be negotiated and made until the conclusion of accident-related medical treatment and after a physician determines future medical needs. The victim is able to calculate actual medical expenses and future therapy or costs by waiting until the doctor issues a release.
- Missing scheduled appointments with a physician
Just as an insurance adjuster or a defense attorney will use the refusal to have medical attention against the victim, so too will they claim that skipping an appointment with a physician as proof that injuries are not severe.
- Posting comments or photos on social media sites
Photos can be used by insurance adjusters or defense attorneys who will claim that injuries are not so severe that the victim can't enjoy life. Comments about injuries or about the case can also be used against the victim and may hurt settlement efforts or cause the victim to receive less than he should receive.
If you have questions about Georgia DUI laws, get the answers in Clayton County DUI injury attorney Shane Smith's book, I Was Hit By a Drunk Driver: What Do I Do Next? Contact the Law Offices of Shane Smith to schedule a free legal consultation.