I’m so glad you could join me today. We’re not civil lawyers, we’re criminal lawyers. But because we do impaired driving law, this very common civil law question comes up for clients. So, it’s what coverage do I have if I get in a motor vehicle accident and I get convicted of impaired driving? So, let’s say I’ve hurt someone and I totaled my car. Great question. And it’s a tricky question. I’ll approach it this way. So, let’s say a client comes to us and they’re their car got totaled, and they hurt someone, a person suffered a broken leg and loss of income and they come to us. And what I will say to them is this look, if you’re ultimately convicted of, in other words, plead guilty or found guilty of this, you know, impaired causing bodily harm charged, you’re not going to be able to claim collision coverage for your say 40 or $50,000.00 new car. There’s an exclusion clause for that. Any conviction where you’re under the influence of alcohol or a conviction is right in your insurance that it’s going to be voided. So that’s gone, unfortunately, if you’re convicted. Now, what about the tort coverage. Tort means a lawsuit where the other side suing you for negligence for hurting them? And that lawsuit might be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars? You know, so let’s say you have $2 million or could be more than hundreds of thousands. So let’s say you have $2 million of insurance coverage. Well, fortunately, if you’re convicted of the appeared causing bodily harm, your insurance company is still going to cover you. They’re going to provide a lawyer, they’re going to pay up to the limits of 2 million, whatever it’s worth and it’s worth 2 million to get 2 million. One problem, if you render someone a quadriplegic who say a 30-year-old doctor, well, you’re going to go bankrupt because it’s going to be over well over 2 million. That’s why we should always have I think the best advice is to have up to 6 million in coverage. Frankly, no one does. I don’t think I do either. I don’t follow my advice. But the bottom line is a conviction for DUI, voids collision, even if they can prove you’re under the influence of alcohol at the time of the accident, your insurance company that voids collision coverage, but fortunately, tort liability for bodily harm that’s covered and that makes sense. I mean, do we want to frankly, screw someone out? Of who’s got hundreds of thousands of damages, because you don’t have insurance? Well who are they going to sue at that point, right? Your company should cover that. And so what can we tell people in this situation? Well, there’s going to be a motor vehicle accident report, your insurance company’s going to find out about it. So, you probably should and insurance, it’s in your insurance contract report it and say to them, look, I’m going to be applying for collision coverage. You know, this person was hurt, you know, blah, blah, blah. And what you want to do is you want to fill out a form called Proof of loss fairly reasonably. It’s just a one-page form. It said, so my car was worth 50 grand, it was written off in this accident. And that’s a prerequisite for starting a lawsuit by the way. So what happens then, so the insurance company’s going to say to you, look, we want to take a statement from you. I as a lawyer say to my clients, do not, you have to provide that statement ultimately, but I do not want you providing that statement, until we receive the police reports, all of the extensive disclosure, and we can go through it carefully. So your memory is completely refreshed and you can tell a cogent, coherent, chronological version of events, having your memory for fashion, all the other witnesses because they those things might trigger you. You only get one chance to get your story straight. You don’t want to give a statement to your insurance company that’s full of holes because things you forgot. So that’s very important. So we prepare the client before that. And you ultimately have to provide that so that might be, and insurance companies know that if you call them that, they’re going to be fine. And then what you have to do is monitor your case. So if your trials not going to take sometimes trials don’t take place for over a year and you only have one year to sue so if you want coverage, you’re going to have to start a lawsuit because you’re not going to give it until the trial is over. And you’re going to need to start that lawsuit you can always give up on it if you lose your trial. If you win, then most insurance companies will give up and pay, they don’t always unfortunately but it’s a hit and miss. I tell you that in most situations they give up if you win your trial because it’s going to be hard for them to prove that you are impaired by alcohol under the influence of alcohol but not all. I want to caution you on that. So the important thing to remember is follow the proof of loss reporting here insurance company because they’re going to find out anyway is required. File your proof of Washington you want collision coverage. Make sure you sue in a year. Hopefully your trial takes place before yours. They could find it if they win or lose. And if you lose the trial, you just stopped the lawsuit. And thank God you’re covered on the on the tort front for the lawsuit you are going to be facing from the broken legs from the other driver and loss of income per 500 grand. So there you have it. It’s a bit of a short primer and we’re not I’m not an insurance specialist. I’m a criminal lawyer but because our impaired driving intersects this are. I talked to specialists in this area friends of mine who specialize in insurance all the time. And that’s a basic primer. What I do with my clients if it gets you know what they want us to do I refer them to a colleague of mine who does this type of work or for further detailed advice on that. But that’s just the kind of basics I want to give you. Because our firm has to give some basic legal advice to the people on this field all the time because we represent a lot of people in impaired driving motor vehicle accidents.
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