How does the at-fault party's driving record affect my claim?

by Pat
(Spokane, WA)

I was rear ended by a 26 year old woman with a prior DUI and 4 speeding convictions in the last three years. She was speeding through a well posted construction zone when she hit me. My injuries were whiplash, severe sprains throughout my back, and a concussion. I've been unable to work full time since the accident.

Does her driving record have any affect on my monetary claim against her insurance company? How do I leverage her record in my case? We are in Washington State. Thank you.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "How does the at-fault party's driving record affect my claim?":

Pat (Spokane, WA):

The negligent driver's driving record will likely not play a part in the way the insurance company negotiates the claim with you. Liability will likely not be an issue. The only dispute will be the amount of settlement.

While you can remind the insurance adjuster over and over her insured has a terrible driving record, including a prior DWI, the adjuster will still offer you approximately the same amount of compensation she would if her insured had a perfect driving record. The record isn't the issue, your injuries and resulting financial losses are the issue.

Your settlement will be based on your injuries and resulting medical bills, out-of-pocket expenses, lost wages, and an amount for your pain and suffering.

The adjuster knows there is little you can do to leverage her into a higher settlement. While the adjuster may appear empathetic, its all about paying the minimum amount she can get away with. In effect, the adjuster's attitude will be "Take, or leave it." It's not as if you can intimidate or threaten her. Adjusters hear that all the time.

In the alternative, if you have an attorney representing you, you will have instant and substantial leverage. The insurance company knows an attorney can file a lawsuit. That is the last thing an insurance company wants. In a lawsuit, a jury can hear about the driver's awful record, which will likely influence their verdict.

A lawsuit will require the defendant insurance company to hire an attorney to defend the case, or rely on their in-house counsel. This in itself costs the company a lot of money. As a result, your attorney will not only have great leverage, but will very likely secure you a much higher net settlement.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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