DUII accident lawyers

“Sleep Driving” a Defense to Strict-Liability DUII in Oregon

Last week the Oregon Supreme Court issued its decision in “State v. Newman”, an appeal whose facts arose from a Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicants (DUII) conviction.

Oregon DUII Auto Accident Injury AttorneysIn the state of Oregon, most cases require that a person act knowingly, negligently, or recklessly in order to be found guilty.  In this case, the defendant was tried for driving under the influence of intoxicants, which is a traffic offense.  Traffic offenses are “strict liability” offenses, which means that no mental state needs to be proven in order for a defendant to be found guilty.

In last week’s decision, the Supreme Court reversed the defendant’s DUII conviction and returned his case to the Court of Appeals for a new trail.  In this new trial, the judge must permit the defendant to provide expert testimony that his driving occurred while he was sleepwalking, which led to “sleep driving.”  The judge had previously excluded such evidence on the basis that DUIIs are strict liability offenses, thus that whether or not the driver was “sleep driving” was irrelevant.

In a surprising decision, the Supreme Court disagreed with the lower court, holding that a person must engage in a volitional act before that act can be considered criminal, regardless of whether or not the person has a culpable mental state.  This is a seminal decision because it applies an automatism defense to a crime that had not previously required any mental state.

Trial Report – Bend DUII Accident, Part III

The DUII-auto accident trial detailed in the last two posts took four full days.

When they jury returned, they awarded my client the following:

  • $8,350.10 for all past medical expenses.
  • No future medicals. This was the most surprising part of the award decision, since they related all priors up to last November.
  • No lost wages or impaired earning capacity. This was not really a surprise, given the economy and fact that my client still worked 100+ hours per week.
  • $10,000 non-economic damages. This, frankly, was also not surprising since my client spends all of his time at work.
  • $25,000 punitive damages.

The offer going into trial was $25,000, which my client received in punitive damages alone. It was a successful trial and another happy client.

Lawyer Timothy Williams | Top Attorney Personal Injury | Tim Williams Attorney Profile

Trial Report – Bend DUII Accident, Part I

On April 11, 2008, at about 8:45 p.m., our client was leaving a bar in Bend when he saw the Defendant engaged in a physical altercation with another patron. Our client watched the Defendant – who has admitted to drinking alcohol before this incident – strike the patron, pushing him into our client before the patron fell to the floor. The Defendant then rushed out of the bar into the parking lot. Our client also left the restaurant, where he met the Defendant in the parking lot. The Defendant began yelling obscenities and approached our client, threatening to harm him. This led to a heated verbal exchange. When the Defendant got in his minivan, our client warned him that he would call the authorities to make a DUII report if the Defendant attempted to drive. Undeterred, the Defendant got into his van and began to pull out of his parking space, so our client pulled out his phone to dial 911.

When our client walked to the front of the Defendant’s van to get the license plate number to report the DUII to the 911 operator, the Defendant began to drive in short bursts toward him, apparently attempting to scare him away. On the Defendant’s final lurch forward, his vehicle struck our client’s right knee, pinning his leg between the van and a Toyota Prius. The Defendant then tore out of the parking lot at high speed. Our client immediately called Deschutes County 911 and reported the hit-and-run to the dispatcher. The Defendant denied all of this, of course, and maintained that he backed out of the spot slowly, carefully, and without incident.

Deschutes County Sheriff’s deputies responded to the scene and, after taking witness statements, tracked the Defendant down at his home in Eagle Crest. After a brief investigation, the Defendant was arrested and taken to jail. Notably, the Defendant refused both a field sobriety test, as well as a breathalyzer test at the sheriff’s office. The Defendant was subsequently charged by the Deschutes County District Attorney’s Office with DUII, Recklessly Endangering Another, and Refusal to Take a Breath Test. On July 27, 2009, the Defendant pleaded no contest to the DUII charge and entered into a diversion program which resulted in a dismissal of the charges against him.

As a result of this incident, our client sustained right knee trauma and was diagnosed with a plica injury. He underwent conservative treatment, including steroid, cortisone and joint-replacement fluid injections as well as physical therapy, before resigning himself to living with knee pain. Nearly four years after this incident, the pain in his knee causes him to walk in a way anyone witnessing it could only describe as a “hobble.”

Because of his injuries, our client, who is self-employed at his concrete business, was completely unable to work at times. Even when able to work, he had to reduce the amount of work he does and hire help to finish the jobs he continues to take – jobs he was once able to do on his own. He sustained lost wages, primarily for replacement help hired during the first several months following the accident. Further, because he cannot perform work in the manner he once could, he claimed an impairment of his earning capacity.

The Defendant denied liability, causation, and damages.

Going into trial, our prayer was for $8,350.10 for past medical expenses; $10,000 for future medical expenses; $12,000+ for lost wages; $50,000 for impaired earning capacity; and $75,000 for noneconomic damages. We also claimed $50,000 in punitive damages due to the intoxication element.

My next post will give the details of the trial.

Lawyer Timothy Williams | Top Attorney Personal Injury | Tim Williams Attorney Profile

One Way Street Accident Case Settled in the Right Direction

Our client had attended a show at a downtown Eugene, Oregon venue and was headed home about 2:30 am. He was sober and wearing his seat belt. He was leaving downtown on a one way street when he saw a car approaching in the opposite direction – going the wrong way on the one way. Oregon Auto Car Accident Attorneys, Accident Attorney Oregon | Dwyer Williams Dretke PC | Oregon Personal Injury Attorneys Thinking as quickly as he could, he pulled over to the side of the street to avoid a crash. In spite of his best efforts, the other driver hit our client head-on. To make matters even worse, the other driver jumped out of his car and attempted to run away from the scene. The police caught up with him, fortunately, and arrested him for driving under the influence. Our client suffered a chipped tooth and neck and back strains, for which he sought medical attention as soon as he could.

Near the end of his treatment regimen, he filed a Personal Injury Protection (PIP) claim with his own auto insurance company for his medical expenses. They tried to deny him, arguing that his multiple massage therapy and physical therapy visits over the five-month recovery period had been excessive for the injuries he had sustained. They attributed much of his medical care to pre-existing conditions. Feeling helpless to fight the insurance company alone, he called us, expert auto accident attorneys specializing in DUII accidents.

Upon taking the case, I obtained all of our client’s medical records and provided them to the insurance company, detailing how his treatment was directly related to his car accident and necessary, not excessive. With the medical records behind us and some skillful negotiation on my part, we were able to counter the insurance company’s arguments and get our client the full amount claimed under his PIP coverage. Additionally, we filed a claim with the intoxicated driver’s insurance company and got recovery for property damage and pain and suffering. Our client was able to walk away with his medical bills, property loss, and pain and suffering covered by the settlements.

If you’ve been in a car accident and need help getting money from your own PIP coverage or from the at-fault driver’s insurance, we can help. Call us today. One of our expert Personal Injury Attorneys will be happy to discuss your Oregon Personal Injury case with you. Call us now: 541-617-0555

Lost Wages, Medical Expenses Recovered in Car Accident Settlement

One weekday morning in Eugene, Oregon, our client was driving to work in his Toyota Rav4. He was wearing his seat belt and driving his usual commute – nothing out of the ordinary. Nothing, that is, until a Jeep Cherokee driving in the opposite direction swerved across the center line and collided head-on into our client’s vehicle. Oregon Auto Car Accident Attorneys, Accident Attorney Oregon | Dwyer Williams Dretke PC | Oregon Personal Injury Attorneys Emergency medical personnel responded to the accident and took our client to the hospital, where his facial abrasions, strained wrist, bruised knees, and neck and back strains were examined and a treatment plan involving four months of physical therapy and rest was prescribed.

Given the relatively early hour of the auto accident, our client was surprised when he learned that the other driver was driving under the influence of intoxicants. When he contacted the police to get the other driver’s insurance information, he got the bad news that the information was incorrect. The police and our client assumed that the other driver was uninsured, leaving our client in a bad situation. Unsure of what to do next, he sought the help of an experienced auto accident attorney specializing in DUII accident cases.

As soon as I took the case, I looked into the at-fault driver’s insurance information and found out that he was insured. I got the correct information and filed a property damage and injury claim with the DUII driver’s insurance company. I also opened a personal injury protection (PIP) claim with the client’s insurance, which would cover his medical bills and lost wages initially, until we could settle the case with the at-fault driver’s insurance. I then provided our client’s medical records to the DUII driver’s insurance company, demonstrating the cost and extent of his injuries. Ultimately, I was able to negotiate an excellent settlement with the insurance company that covered our client’s medical bills, lost wages, and compensation for pain and suffering. Our client was very pleased – and glad that he had called Dwyer Williams Dretke.

If you’ve been injured in a car accident involving a DUII driver, we can help you get the best settlement possible. One of our expert Personal Injury Attorneys will be happy to discuss your Oregon Personal Injury case with you. Call us now: 541-617-0555