Posted by Sansone / Lauber Trial Lawyers on November 29, 2012SHARE IT
In June 2011, Clarence was spending time with his grandson. Around 1:50 p.m. in the afternoon, in House Springs, Missouri, they were driving in Clarence’s pickup truck on Route MM a few tenths of a mile from its intersection with Miller Road. Another driver, Aureliano Correa-Garcia, was driving a VW Jetta Westbound on Route MM when he crossed the center line and drove down the wrong side of the road, causing a head on car accident with Clarence and his grandson.
After investigation, the reporting police officer concluded the collision was Mr Garcia’s fault, noting probable contributing circumstances as “Wrong Side (not passing)” and “Physical Impairment”. At trial, the police officer’s conclusions or opinions are not admissible as evidence. The jury can only hear the evidence of what he was told or observed, then the jury decides who was at fault.
There was no evidence of physical impairment other than the officer’s statement of it being a factor, thus at this point, no evidence that can be used at trial. As part of our legal investigation of the car accident, we ran a full criminal background check of the other driver and found that he plead guilty to a DWI several years before. This does not mean he was drinking at the time of this Jefferson county car accident, however, we used it as a negotiating position to infer we had evidence he was drunk at the time of the accident. Based on the injuries sustained by the driver and passenger and our position on impairment, we were able to settle the case for all the insurance available, $150,000, which was a high value for this case. We were able to settle for this amount within a few months and without having to file a Jefferson County car accident lawsuit. Saving our clients time and money.
Sample from demand letter regarding DWI:
“On April 24, 2010, your insured plead guilty to and was convicted of DWI in St Louis County, case # 09SL-MU00989. Even though this DWI was not related to the collision at hand, under Missouri law prior convictions are admissible to attack the credibility of your insured. By implication, an argument could be made that your insured was under the influence of drugs or alcohol when the collision occurred.”
In the current legal environment, auto insurance companies are generally taking hard line positions on Missouri car accident and injury cases. They are taking the position of settling for only medical bills (after adjustment down to only consider what insurance paid not total bill) plus a few thousand for pain and suffering. See Missouri Personal Injury Trial Evidence: Bills “Paid” versus “Charged”. this is assuming they admit 00% liability on behalf of their insured driver.
Whenever there is any evidence of aggravating factors, such as: speeding, DWI, texting while driving, cell phone, etc … that issue must be addressed and highlighted to make the car accident case not just about simple negligence, but a case of carelessness and recklessness causing needless personal injury. This approach adds value to every case as insurance companies know jurors will sometimes forgive mistakes (simple negligence) but will be more receptive to carelessness beyond mere mistakes and even more receptive to reckless behavior that endangers everyone.