Posted by Sansone / Lauber Trial Lawyers on April 25, 2014SHARE IT
If you have read any of my articles about personal injury and bike accidents in Missouri, you know that oftentimes criminal charges are not brought against drivers that hit cyclists, even when drunk; they may get a DWI, but rarely charged with vehicular assault, which is the appropriate charge for a drunk driver that injures someone in a drunk driving accident. See Bike Accident Lawyer Articles.
I am pleased to see that felony assault charges are being so quickly filed in a recent case where a bike rider was hit by a drunk driver on highway 94 in St Charles County, Missouri. The drunk driving bike accident happened on April 23 and the felony assault charges were filed on April 24, the very next day.
I like to take some credit for the prosecutor’s approach in this matter; a few years ago I represented a bike rider that was hit by a drunk driver in Wentzville, Missouri which is in St Charles County. In that case the driver was only charged with misdemeanor DWI and no charges were brought against him for hitting and seriously injuring a cyclist. By the time our law firm was hired, the driver already got a plea deal from the prosecutor on the case and got an easy probation sentence; basically a slap on the wrists. The prosecutor took no notice of the severe injuries to the cyclist even though he was taken from the DWI accident scene in critical condition by ambulance. Our office brought this situation to the attention of the prosecutor’s office and hope to never see it happen again.
After a bike accident it is important to get legal representation soon, for many reasons, but in situations where the car accident is caused by a drunk driver, having a personal injury lawyer in your corner is particularly important for not only the injury case, but also to make sure the prosecutor files appropriate charges, which they usually do; however, sometimes they overlook that there was an injured victim. If they are aware of a victim they should file felony assault charges, if not, in DWI car accident cases they will at least take into consideration the victim’s injuries and most likely force them to plead guilty and take a harsher punishment as opposed to the easy probation we mentioned above.
Additionally, if the driver pleads guilty to DWI in the criminal case that can be used as an admission of intoxication in the civil personal injury case making the injury accident case much stronger. Many defendant drivers will still deny being drunk even though they plead guilty to the criminal charges; this puts them in a very difficult situation of appearing to be a liar and unremorseful for their actions, thus strengthening the injury case when presented to a jury. I much rather go after a drunk driver that denies responsibility than one that promptly apologizes and take full responsibility for their actions.
Below is an example of a drunk driver who plead guilty but still has the disrespect to deny he was drunk:
Q.Okay. Now, I highlighted a portion from that [Guilty Plea form]. Could you please read that for me
A. “I enter a Plea of Guilty because I am guilty as charged.”
Q. Okay. And then that’s your signature, correct?
A. That is correct.
Q. Now, you have admitted to drunk driving when you pled guilty to that offense, didn’t you?
A. I did not admit to it and I was not drunk.
Despite this plea of guilty to DWI when causing the bike accident, this defendant went on to continue to testify that he had only 1 glass of wine and was sober; additionally, he had a BAC well over .08 which could never be caused by one glass of wine. As a trial lawyer I welcome this denial of responsibility as it shows the defendant hurt someone and doesn’t care and refuses to take responsibility for needlessly injuring someone; thus giving the jury all the more reason to do their job and force the driver to take responsibility through a verdict.
Hurt by a drunk driver? Call St Louis personal injury attorneys today at (314) 863-0500 or submit your questions online.