Visitor Question

Driver with history of DUI totaled my car…

Submitted By: Ron (Orange, CA, USA)

A drunk driver lost control of his truck and hit my car. According to the police report, he admitted to having a prior DUI and that he’d just consumed 2 pints of vodka. He had also disconnected a device that allows him to drive the vehicle when he breaths into it to prove sobriety. There are 3 witness statements, all very similar, and they corroborate the fact he was driving fast and out of control.

My car, a 2000 Lexus GS400, was totaled. My son and I were in the car when he hit us and we were both taken to Kaiser Permanente hospital, checked out and released. I was given an injection of cortisone before leaving. I went home and went to bed.

I woke up and was in a lot of pain, and had very limited movement in my back. I tried to reduce the pain with Advil, but it didn’t help much. I went to my doctor on Thursday as the pain and stiffness wasn’t going away. I also missed 2 days work.

I’m trying to figure out what to write in a demand letter. How should I handle this? I think liability is pretty clear. Any guidance you can give would be much appreciated. Thanks.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.


Dear Ron,

You’re assuming the drunk driver had insurance. Let’s hope so. If you haven’t yet been contacted by the driver’s insurance company then you’ll address your letter to the driver. If you have been in contact with the insurance, address your letter to the claims adjuster assigned to your claim.

Don’t be overly concerned with a specific way to write the letter. Just be sure to include the following points. Make sure the letter includes all your contact information. Confirm the date and time of the collision. Make clear you were injured as a result of the driver’s negligence and your car was totaled. Be sure to attach a copy of the police report (go to the police station and get one if you haven’t done so already).

Set out in detail the cost of your “damages.” They include your medical bills, out of pocket expenses for medications, etc., and the amount of your lost wages, if any. The amount you demand will be an amount you feel will cover all your financial losses and your pain and suffering. There are a couple of ways to determine the total amount to demand.

A traditional way is to multiply your medical bills alone by 2 or 3x. So of your medical bills total $1,000 dollars, you might demand $3,000 dollars. Because your injuries are the less serious “soft tissue” type, settling for 3 times your medical bills will be a great settlement… 2 times, or $1500 will be less great. Less than 2 times your costs will be a tough settlement.

Learn more here: California Car Accident Guide

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

Best of luck,


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