If you’ve been injured in an accident due to a person who was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you have the right to seek compensation. Contact Martin & Wallentine for a free consultation.
Every year, Missouri witnesses many DWI wrecks. These wrecks have far-reaching consequences, impacting the lives of those injured in profound ways. The innocent victims often face mounting medical bills, rehabilitation costs, and potential loss of income due to their injuries.
Physically, the aftermath of a DWI wreck can lead to severe injuries, ranging from broken bones and internal organ damage to traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord injuries. Emotionally, the trauma endured can have long-lasting effects, leaving victims and their families grappling with pain, suffering, and emotional distress. Financially, people who get hurt by drunk drivers often face financial instability as well, having lost their ability to work and earn income while they recover from their injuries, not to mention the mounting costs they face for medical care and rehabilitation.
Driving while intoxicated is a serious offense, and those responsible for causing the accident should be held accountable for their actions. At Martin & Wallentine Law Firm, we understand the devastating impact that DWI wrecks can have on individuals and their families in Missouri. We recognize that the injuries sustained in DWI wrecks can be life-altering, causing physical pain and emotional and financial turmoil.
Our compassionate and highly skilled DWI wreck lawyers are here to help you navigate the complex legal process and seek the compensation you deserve for your injuries. We will pursue fair compensation for your medical expenses, rehabilitation costs, lost income, pain and suffering, and other damages due to a DWI wreck. You don't have to face this challenging journey alone.
Your focus should be on your recovery and rebuilding your life. At Martin & Wallentine, we handle the legal aspects for you to relieve you of that burden and to make sure you get the best possible outcome. Contact us at 913-754-9700 to receive the legal support and guidance you need during this difficult time.
Missouri DWI Wreck Statistics
DWI wrecks happen every year in our state. Intoxicated drivers operating their vehicles under the influence of alcohol or drugs cause devastating accidents. These crashes often result in severe injuries, property damage and sadly, fatalities. Impaired drivers have reduced reaction times, poor judgment, and decreased coordination, making them a significant danger to themselves and others on the road.
A research report from the Missouri Department of Mental Health revealed 4,967 alcohol-related crashes occurred in 2019, while 1251 resulted from drug-impaired drivers during that same year. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2020 alone, there were 11,654 fatalities attributed to these preventable crashes. Over 10 years, from 2011 to 2020, an average of about 10,500 people died every year in drunk-driving crashes.
The harrowing statistics from research reports and national data underscore the urgent need for awareness, preventive measures, and legal action to combat the staggering toll inflicted by DWI wrecks on innocent lives and communities.
What You Need to Know About DWI Laws in Missouri
Driving while intoxicated is a serious offense in Missouri. The state has specific laws and penalties to address DWI offenses, aiming to promote responsible and safe driving behavior.
If caught driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) above the legal limit or while impaired by drugs, you could face hefty fines, license suspension, mandatory alcohol education programs, and even jail time. These penalties aim to deter individuals from engaging in such dangerous behavior and protect innocent lives.
Blood Alcohol Concentration Limits in Missouri
Missouri law sets a legal BAC limit of 0.08% for drivers aged 21 and older. This threshold means operating a vehicle with a BAC above this limit is considered a DWI offense. Commercial motor vehicle drivers have a lower BAC limit of 0.04%. For drivers under 21, a stricter legal limit of 0.02% is enforced, reflecting the zero-tolerance approach towards underage drinking and driving.
Penalties of DWI Convictions in Missouri
DWI violations in Missouri carry significant punishments. The penalties can vary based on several factors, including the driver's blood alcohol concentration (BAC), previous offenses, and age. Here are some general sanctions for DWI in Missouri:
Under 21 Years of Age: If a driver is under 21 and convicted of an alcohol-related traffic offense, their driving privilege may be suspended for 90 days for a first offense and revoked for one year for subsequent violations.
Court Penalties: For a DWI conviction in Missouri, these disciplinary actions generally include up to 6 months of imprisonment, maximum fine of $500 and mandatory participation in alcohol treatment or addiction evaluation programs.
Administrative Penalties: The Missouri Department of Revenue administers these penalties, which can include suspension or revocation of the driver's license, completion of a Substance Abuse Traffic Offender Program (SATOP), an ignition interlock device installed on the offender's vehicle, and an SR-22 insurance filing, which requires high-risk insurance coverage.
Repeat offenses and aggravated circumstances, such as Missouri drunk driving accidents causing injuries or fatalities, may result in more severe penalties. The legal outcomes include longer license suspension, higher fines, and potential felony charges.
Additionally, DWI convictions can have far-reaching consequences beyond the legal system. Insurance rates may skyrocket, making it more challenging to maintain coverage. DWI offenders may jeopardize employment opportunities, as employers often conduct background checks that reveal DWI convictions. Additionally, personal reputation may suffer, affecting relationships and social standing.
The Impact of DWI Wrecks
Imagine the following scenario. A reckless, intoxicated driver crashed into a woman’s car, inflicting devastating damage to her spine. Mounting medical bills added to the weight, threatening her career as an elementary school teacher. Before the DWI wreck, she enjoyed hiking up Taum Sauk Mountain in Ironton and spending time with her family and friends. The 32-year-old now uses a wheelchair due to a spinal cord injury, while the fear, anxiety, and despair have affected her spirit. The impact of a DWI wreck cuts deep, forever altering the lives of its victims and their families, and underscoring the urgent need for support and advocacy.
Common Injuries Resulting from DWI Wrecks
When a DWI wreck occurs, the consequences can be devastating, leaving victims with severe injuries that can have lasting physical and emotional effects. The common injuries from these drunk driving accidents are among the most heart-breaking challenges victims and their families face. In the chaos of a DWI wreck, victims often suffer from severe injuries such as:
- Traumatic Brain Injuries - TBIs can occur when the head is forcefully struck or the brain undergoes significant jolts inside the skull. These injuries can lead to cognitive impairments, memory loss, and long-term disabilities.
- Spinal Cord Injuries - When the spinal cord, a complex network of nerves responsible for transmitting signals between the brain and the body, is harmed, it results in a spinal injury. This injury can result in paralysis or limited mobility.
- Broken Bones - Broken bones and fractures often occur in DWI wrecks, with limbs and ribs being vulnerable to the force of the impact.
- Internal Organ Damage - Internal organ damage, such as punctured lungs or ruptured organs, can have life-threatening consequences.
Long-Term Physical Impact
Chronic pain becomes a daily companion, making it difficult to carry out routine tasks and enjoy life's simple pleasures. Disabilities resulting from these drunk driving accidents can strip away independence and hinder the injured person’s ability to work or engage in activities they once enjoyed.
DWI wreck victims often experience intense emotional anguish. The psychological distress resulting from the traumatic event can manifest as:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Nightmares, flashbacks, and constant fear can become a regular part of life, making it difficult to move forward with their lives. Family members also suffer, witnessing their loved ones endure pain and struggle emotionally. These emotional scars can linger for years, affecting relationships, self-esteem, and overall well-being.
Extensive Medical Treatments, Surgeries, and Rehabilitation
The road to recovery following a DWI wreck can be a difficult battle. For people who were severely injured, they may require extensive medical treatments, including surgeries, physical therapy, and rehabilitation. These interventions aim to alleviate pain, restore mobility, and improve functionality. However, the process can be lengthy, costly, and demanding, often requiring ongoing medical care to manage long-term effects.
Loss of Enjoyment of Life and Disruption of Relationships
The injuries from drunk driving accidents can truly disrupt the lives of victims and their families, making simple tasks difficult or impossible and relationships more difficult to maintain. Hobbies, careers, and social activities may need to be given up or adjusted. Physical limitations and emotional distress affect every aspect of life, straining relationships and overall well-being.
DWI wrecks deeply impact the enjoyment of life, as those injured may lose the ability to partake in special activities they once loved. They may also face new limitations that can be very difficult to adjust to. This can strain relationships, creating distance and turmoil within families and friendships.
Financial Burden on Victims and Their Families
The repercussions of Missouri drunk driving accidents extend beyond just physical injuries and mental health challenges. They also sometimes inflict financial hardships. These include:
- Medical expenses - These costs include emergency care, hospital stays, surgeries, medication, and ongoing treatments. The costs can quickly escalate.
- Property damage - Property damage to vehicles and other personal belongings adds to the financial strain. Expenses like rental cars or buying a new vehicle may not be affordable.
- Wage loss - After being injured, you may not be able to work temporarily or permanently, resulting in a significant loss of income. This loss makes it challenging to meet daily living expenses, mortgage or rent payments, and other financial obligations.
- Long-term care - The injuries sustained may require long-term care or assistance, such as nursing care or home modifications. These ongoing needs can accumulate substantial costs over time. For example, installing a wheelchair ramp can cost $1,000 to $5,000 or more, depending on the length, materials used, and any necessary structural changes to your home.
Establishing Liability in DWI Wreck Cases in Missouri
Negligence is fundamental when holding individuals accountable for their actions in drunk driving cases, including DWI wrecks. In the context of Missouri drunk driving accidents, negligence refers to an accident caused by the failure of a driver to exercise reasonable care to other motorists by operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This failure can result in severe injuries, property damage, and even fatalities.
Proving negligence is vital in seeking compensation for the losses suffered in a DWI wreck. You must establish the legal responsibility of the drunk driver.
Proving the Negligence of a Missouri Drunk Driver
The following four elements must be considered for proving negligence on the part of the intoxicated driver:
- Duty of care: Every driver must operate their vehicle safely and responsibly. This duty includes driving sober and free from alcohol or drugs. When someone chooses to drive while intoxicated, they breach this duty of care, placing themselves and others at risk.
- Breach of duty: Driving under the influence constitutes a clear breach of the duty of care. Operating a vehicle with impaired judgment, reduced reaction times, and decreased coordination significantly increases the likelihood of causing an accident.
- Causation: There must be a direct link between drunk driving and the accident. Making this connection involves presenting convincing evidence such as police reports, eyewitness testimonies, and expert analysis to demonstrate that the intoxicated driver's actions directly caused the collision and resulting injuries.
- Damages: In a DWI wreck case, it is necessary to show proof of the physical injuries, property damage, and other losses the victim suffers. Medical records, repair estimates, reports by financial experts, and documentation of other relevant expenses can help establish the extent of the damages caused by the accident.
Evidence You Need for a DWI Wreck Claim in Missouri
After a DWI wreck, a critical window of opportunity opens. With each passing moment, the strength of your personal injury claim diminishes, and the chance of obtaining the compensation you deserve becomes more uncertain. Act fast to preserve critical evidence before it is lost. This evidence will lay the foundation for your personal injury lawsuit.
Here are the types of evidence you may have:
Photographs and videos capturing the wreck's aftermath serve as visual evidence, vividly depicting the collision's severity. For example, skid marks, deployed airbags, and open containers of alcohol are tangible proof of the incident that bolsters your claim.
Eyewitnesses who witnessed the accident firsthand are invaluable sources of evidence. Their accounts provide a timeline of the incident, validate your version of events and help identify factors contributing to the crash. These objective observations further solidify your claim. Ensure you get the witnesses' contact information to seek their testimony during the legal process.
A police report from a law enforcement officer carries substantial weight in establishing the impaired driver's responsibility for the wreck. Accident reports include essential information such as the results of blood alcohol concentration (BAC) tests, any citations issued, and observations made by law enforcement officers. These reports are vital in building your personal injury case.
Surveillance Footage and Traffic Cameras
Surveillance footage from nearby businesses or traffic cameras can provide compelling evidence to support your claim. This footage may capture the events leading to the accident, the impaired driver's behavior, or even the collision itself. Identifying and obtaining relevant footage can significantly strengthen your case.
Expert witnesses, such as accident reconstruction specialists or toxicologists, can reinforce your DWI wreck claim. Their professional opinions based on scientific analysis and expertise can provide valuable insights into the cause and effects of the accident. Collaborating with expert witnesses can bolster the credibility of your case and help establish the intoxicated driver's liability.
Dealing with Missouri Insurance Companies
The thought of dealing with an insurance representative is overwhelming for some people. You may be worried about whether you can receive the compensation you deserve for your losses. Knowing the specific insurance policies involved in your DWI wreck case helps ensure you receive the maximum compensation you need for your recovery.
Below are a few factors to consider if you're injured in a DWI wreck:
Understanding Insurance Coverage in DWI Wreck Cases
When you're involved in a DWI wreck, it's crucial to understand the different types of insurance coverage that come into play. These include:
- Liability coverage - Liability insurance typically comes from the at-fault driver's insurance and helps compensate you for your injuries and damages.
- Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage - UM/UIM coverage aims to protect you if the intoxicated driver doesn't have insurance or doesn't have enough coverage to fully compensate you.
- Personal injury protection (PIP) coverage - PIP, optional in Missouri, can provide additional financial support for medical expenses and other losses regardless of who was at fault.
Tactics Used by Insurance Companies to Minimize Payouts
Every insurance company's core is the desire to profit for its shareholders. One way they achieve this is to minimize the money paid out in claims. They may resort to the following:
- Delaying claim processing
- Disputing liability
- Downplaying the extent of your injuries
- Offering lowball settlements
Insurance companies have teams of lawyers and adjusters who work to investigate claims and find ways to reduce payouts. While insurance companies are legally obligated to act in good faith and treat policyholders fairly, their ultimate goal is to minimize their financial losses.
Tips for Communicating with Insurance Adjusters
If you've been in a DWI wreck, an insurance adjuster will likely contact you soon after the accident. While adjusters are supposed to help you through the claims process, their primary goal is to save the insurance company money.
They may try to downplay your injuries or offer a lowball settlement to resolve the claim quickly. Additionally, they can use your words against you to minimize your claim. What you say to them can hurt or help you secure fair compensation for your injuries and damages. Be aware that they are recording any conversations they are having with you.
Here's what you need to know when speaking with the insurance adjuster from the drunk driver’s insurance company:
Start by being polite and professional. While you may feel angry or frustrated, keep your emotions in check and remain courteous. Provide the adjuster with clear and concise information about the accident, including the date, time, and location. Explain the extent of your injuries and the damages to your vehicle.
Be cautious about what information you share with the adjuster. Stick to the facts and avoid discussing the details of the accident beyond what is necessary. Don't admit fault or speculate about what happened. If you need more clarification, say so, and feel free to refuse to answer any questions you aren’t comfortable with. Once you hire a Missouri DWI wrecks lawyer, they can handle all communications with the insurance company on your behalf.
Document all interactions with the adjuster. This step includes the date and time of the call, the adjuster's name, and the details of the conversation. Keep a record of all correspondence, including emails and letters. This documentation can be helpful if the insurer disputes the claim or if you need legal representation.
Remember, the adjuster is not your friend. No matter how polite, they represent the insurance company's interests, not you. If you feel uncomfortable or unsure about anything, don't hesitate to consult with a Missouri drunk driving accident lawyer.
Communication with insurance adjusters is necessary when you're involved in a personal injury lawsuit. However, knowing what to say and how to say it can be a challenge. That's why seeking guidance from a drunk driving accident lawyer is so important. A skilled attorney can help you navigate the claims process, communicate effectively with insurance adjusters, and negotiate a fair settlement on your behalf.
Tips for Negotiating with Insurance Adjusters
Securing just compensation for the injuries and damages sustained in a DWI wreck is possible with the right strategy and approach. When negotiating with insurance adjusters, the key is to be prepared, patient, and persistent.
Gather Strong Evidence
Evidence to support your claim can include medical records, accident reports, photos and videos of the scene, expert opinions, and witness statements. The more convincing evidence that you have, the stronger your case will be, and the more likely you will receive a fair settlement offer. Document all your losses, including medical expenses, lost wages, and property damage.
Don't Accept the First Offer
Negotiations with insurance adjusters require patience and persistence. Feel free to make a counteroffer if the initial offer is too low. Keep in mind that the adjuster is likely to start with a low offer in an attempt to save the insurance company money. However, if you can demonstrate that your claim is legitimate and supported by clear and convincing evidence, the adjuster may be willing to increase their offer.
Speak With a Lawyer
The best thing you can do if you’ve been injured by a drunk driver is to seek legal representation. By working with a skilled Missouri drunk driving accident lawyer, you can rest easy knowing that negotiations with the insurance company will secure the maximum compensation you deserve for your injuries. With the law offices of Martin & Wallentine’s experience and knowledge of the law, they can help you present a strong case and push back against any attempts to minimize your payout.
FAQs About Missouri Drunk Driving Accidents and Personal Injury Law
If you or someone you love has been involved in a DWI wreck, you may have questions about your legal rights and options. Here are some frequently asked questions about drunk driving laws and personal injury laws:
1. What should I do after a DWI wreck?
After a DWI wreck, the most important thing is to seek medical attention for any injuries. You should also call the police to report the accident and obtain a copy of the accident report. Gather information from the other driver and any witnesses, including names, contact information, and insurance information. Do not admit fault or discuss the accident with anyone other than the police and your Missouri drunk driving accident lawyer.
2. Can I file a personal injury lawsuit if I was a passenger in a DWI wreck?
Yes, you may be able to file a personal injury claim if you were a passenger in a DWI wreck. As a passenger, you very likely did not cause the accident and may be entitled to compensation for your injuries and damages.
3. How can a personal injury attorney help me after a DWI wreck accident?
A personal injury attorney can help you navigate the complex legal process of filing a personal injury lawsuit. They can gather evidence, negotiate with insurance companies, and represent you in court if necessary. Their knowledge and experience can help you receive the maximum compensation you are entitled to.
4. What if the drunk driver who caused the DWI wreck accident does not have insurance?
If the intoxicated driver who caused the DWI car accident does not have insurance, you may still be able to recover compensation through your own insurance policy. Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage can provide financial support in these situations.
5. How long do I have to file a personal injury claim after a drunk driving crash?
In Missouri, you must file a personal injury lawsuit within five years after the accident. However, seeking legal advice as soon as possible helps ensure you have the best chance of receiving the compensation you deserve. Often, evidence begins to disappear or fade away as time goes on, so the sooner you seek help from a lawyer after you get injured, the better off your chances of securing a favorable outcome will be.
6. How much does hiring a personal injury attorney for a DWI wreck case cost?
Our personal injury law firm works on a contingency fee basis, meaning we only get paid if you receive compensation. The fee is typically a percentage of the amount recovered. The exact percentage of the contingency fee can vary depending on the drunk driving accident lawyer and the specifics of your case, but it is typically around 30-40% of the total amount recovered.
7. How much compensation can I expect for my injuries from a DWI wreck in Missouri?
One of the biggest concerns after being injured in a DWI car accident is the amount of compensation you can expect. Unfortunately, no set amount can be determined at the outset of a case. The payment you may receive will depend on various factors, including the severity of your injuries, the cost of your medical treatment, the impact of the injuries on your daily life, and the insurance coverage of the drunk driver involved in the wreck.
Trusted Legal Representation for DWI Wreck Victims
The legal process can be daunting and overwhelming if you or a loved one has suffered injuries in a DWI car accident. At Martin & Wallentine, we specialize in providing in-depth legal representation for those injured in Missouri drunk driving accidents to ensure our clients receive the maximum compensation they need and deserve. As Johnson County's leading personal injury and civil litigation law firm, our accomplished team of trial attorneys has the insight and know-how to handle even the most complex drunk driving cases.
Experienced and Trustworthy Representation
Our team of dedicated drunk driving accident lawyers is committed to providing our clients with the best possible representation in court while striving for outcomes that serve their interests. We understand how difficult it can be when you or a loved one has been injured due to someone else's negligence. Let our dedicated legal team advocate for your rights and ensure you receive the full compensation you deserve.
Compassionate and Knowledgeable Legal Guidance
At Martin & Wallentine, our top priority is providing our clients with compassionate and knowledgeable legal guidance every step of the way. From filing paperwork and preparing for court appearances to ultimately resolving your case, our drunk driving accident lawyers will be there for you every step of the way.
Contact Martin & Wallentine Law Firm for Legal Representation
If a drunk driver injured you or a loved one in a car accident, seek legal representation from a trusted personal injury attorney. Contact Martin & Wallentine at 913-754-9700 to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced drunk driving accident lawyers. We are here to help you navigate the personal injury claims process and fight for your right to move on from this terrible incident.
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