If we were rear-ended by a drunk driver while stopped at a red traffic light and were injured, what is our best course for receiving a fair settlement?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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If we were rear-ended by a drunk driver while stopped at a red traffic light and were injured, what is our best course for receiving a fair settlement?

The police came and filed a report. We drove to the hospital to get checked out. We both have whiplash – on quite strong pain meds (prescription) and starting physio. The driver had past arrests for DUI (more than one). The insurer is starting to suggest that due to the little damage of the car we could not have been injured. They have started with lowball offers already for our repairs. Medical bills are piling up. We are looking at the option of settling this case by ourselves but not sure. What would be the best strategy?

Asked on December 8, 2015 under Personal Injury, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Presumably, when you say "the insurer," you mean the other driver's insurer; if so, remember that his insurer has no obligation or duty to you whatsoever. Rather, their only obligation is to their driver, and their incentive is to settle or otherwise resolve cases for as little as possible. If you have substantial medical bills and other costs or losses (e.g. any lost wages; some car damages) and long-lasting impairment or disability ("pain and suffering"), then you don't need to take a low-ball offer: you can sue the other driver for the full amount of your injuries and losses, and his insurer will then either settle for a reasonable amount or, if they don't settle, if you win in court, will have to pay the judgment, at least up to the limit of their policy--and any amount not paid by the insurer will be owed by the other driver. If he was DUI and you were rear-ended, there should be no issue proviing his fault. 
d on what you write, it would be well worth your while to consult with a personal injury attorney about suing. Many will take th case on contingency (they only get paid if you get paid) and will also provide a free initial consultation to evaluate a case. Good luck.

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