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Car Wrecks Involving Negligent Drunk Drivers


Episode 46: Calloway County personal injury attorney Jeff Roberts has decades of experience helping Western Kentucky clients who’ve been involved in automobile accidents.  Some of these situations have been car wrecks involving negligent drunk drivers.  Jeff will explain how that factor can have a significant impact on the value of your claim.  To clarify, Jeff does not represent drunk drivers.  He represents people who were hit by drunk drivers. 

Jeff Discusses the Kentucky Justice Association (KJA)

Jeff was on his way to the annual convention for the Kentucky Justice Association, but stopped into the studio to record this episode.  Before we begin, we thought it would be a good idea for the listeners to learn a little about KJA.

KJA is a trial lawyers’ association.  The organization works in Frankfort to maintain our right to a jury trial (7th Amendment).  At the same time, KJA trains attorneys in trial skills, so they can be more effective in court, on behalf of their injured clients.  Jeff’s been a member since 1992.  Jeff service on the Executive Committee, in the role of Treasurer.  Next year, he’ll assume the role of Secretary.  He will eventually serve as President.

Jeff was honored to be elected by his peers to serve on the Executive Committed.  The members of KJA are some of the best trial attorneys in Kentucky.  He was previously elected to KJA’s Board of Governors. 

Experience Prosecuting Drunk Driving Cases

In addition to his private practice, Jeff Roberts also serves as an Assistant County Attorney in Calloway County.  He’s been involved in prosecuting many drunk driving cases.  Jeff discusses how that experience can be extremely helpful when representing clients with car wrecks involving negligent drunk drivers. 

An important factor to be investigated is the information the bar or restaurant may be able to provide regarding the amount of alcohol the negligent driver consumed, prior to the car wreck.  He understands how to examine the evidence and to work with law enforcement to build an effective case.

Car Wrecks involving negligent drunk drivers

Punitive Damages for a Drunk Driver

Normally, a personal injury claim focuses on compensatory damages.  This refers to getting the victim compensation for their losses (i.e. medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, property damage, etc.).  However, when a collision involves a drunk driver, that driver is now exposed to the possibility of punitive damages. 

Jeff explains that punitive damages are designed to punish the person for his/her negligent actions.  These only apply to specific situations.  The burden of proof is higher standard in punitive damage claims. 

If it can be proven that the at fault driver was intoxicated at the time of the collision, he or she could be liable for both compensatory and punitive damages. 

Personal Injury Protection (PIP)

This coverage is another source of money for the victims of a car wreck.  In Kentucky, we have a no-fault system.  This means that regardless of which driver was at fault, you can receive $10,000 in automatic coverage, primarily for medical expenses and lost wages.  There is $10,000 for each passenger in the car, as well.  PIP coverage enables you to seek medical treatment for your injuries, without having to worry about the initial, medical expenses.  PIP does not apply to your property damage.

There are ways of applying your PIP benefits that can be more advantageous to you.  An experienced, Kentucky personal injury attorney can advise you on this important resource.

Under Insured Motorist Coverage

Most car wreck claims are dependent upon the amount of insurance the negligent driver has, at the time of the accident.  Kentucky’s state minimum coverage is currently $25,000.  What happens if you have $75,000 in damages?  Assuming your attorney successfully negotiates a settlement for the policy limits of $25,000, you’d still be in the hole a considerable amount. 

Under Insured motorist coverage is part of your own automobile insurance policy.  It can be used to make up the difference for your bodily damage (i.e. medical expenses, lost wages, etc.).  Jeff discussed this topic in Episode 3.  If the negligent driver was uninsured, you would then rely on your Uninsured Motorist Coverage.  Again, this is part of your own auto insurance policy.

Should I Tell the Officer the other Driver is Drunk?

Generally speaking, the officer who arrives at the accident scene should be able to notice if the other driver is intoxicated.  They are trained to look for these indications.  If the person has admitted something to you, before the officer arrives, you should inform the officer so he/she can question the other driver.

Can the Bar or Restaurant also be Held Liable?

Yes.  Kentucky has a dram shop law.  This applies to a bar or restaurant serving alcohol.  They have a responsibility to avoid over-serving an individual.  The law is meant to reduce the chance someone may drive drunk after consuming alcohol at the establishment. 

Your attorney can file a dram shop claim against the bar or restaurant, including punitive damages.  While the driver is primarily at fault, the establishment may also be sued at the same time.  Again, this is extremely important if the negligent driver doesn’t have a lot of insurance, but you have a lot of damages.

Experience and Knowledge Matter

Handling a car wrecks involving negligent drunk drivers can be very complex.  There are many different factors.  It’s possible that multiple types of claims will need to be filed, at roughly the same time.  It’s important that you hire a car wreck attorney who has significant experience it all aspects of this specific type of situation.  Again, Jeff’s experience as an Assistant County Attorney who has prosecuted drunk driver, can be extremely beneficial to maximizing the value of your accident claim.   

Jeff Roberts Represents Injured Clients Throughout Kentucky

With offices located in Calloway County and now Christian County, Jeff has a history of representing personal injury clients, workers’ compensation clients and social security disability clients across the state.  He’s represented clients from Paducah, Bowling Green, Louisville, Covington, Whitesville and many other Kentucky locations.  He’s not just a Western Kentucky injury attorney. 

We hope you found this episode insightful and helpful.  Thank you for listening!

Is It Time to Speak with an Attorney about Your Car Wreck Injury Claim?

The office phone number is (270) 753-0053 or toll free at 800-844-5108.  For more information, visit This podcast is meant to provide information and is not legal advice.  Jeff’s principal office is located at 509 Main Street, Murray, Kentucky.  Co-host Jim Ray is a non-attorney spokesperson.  This is an advertisement.