Q: I was hit by a drunk driver. He was arrested and convicted of DUI. The D.A.’s office is contacting me asking if I want to make a restitution claim. My injury attorney is telling me he doesn’t help with getting me restitution. Should I bother making the restitution claim if my lawyer is representing on an injury claim against the drunk driver’s insurance company?
A: Under the law, if you were injured by a drunk driver or hit and run driver who is convicted or pleads guilty, you have the right to make a restitution claim.
HOW IS A RESTITUTION CLAIM DIFFERENT FROM AN INSURANCE CLAIM?
The restitution claim is made in criminal court. A judge orders the convicted criminal to pay you out of the defendant’s own pocket. With restitution, you can only make a claim for your “economic damages,” i.e., your out-of-pocket losses:
- Medical bills (past and future)
- Lost wages (past and future
- Cost to repair or total out your vehicle
- Rental car
An insurance claim in made through the civil court system. The defendant does not pay out of his or her own pocket. Instead, the DUI or hit-and-run driver’s auto insurance company pays you. With an insurance claim, in addition to making a claim for “economic damages,” you are entitled to compensation for “pain and suffering,” i.e., for the physical pain and mental anguish you suffered due to the accident. The pain and suffering component of a settlement is usually the largest part of the settlement.
YOU CAN MAKE BOTH A RESTITUTION CLAIM AND AN INSURANCE CLAIM
If you were hit by a DUI driver or hit-and-run driver, you can make both a restitution claim and an insurance claim.
WHY YOU SHOULD HIRE MCGEE LERER & ASSOCIATES IF YOU WERE HIT BY A DRUNK DRIVER
Most personal injury law firms do not get involved in restitution claims. They provide their injury clients with no guidance on what to tell the district attorney’s office or how to make the restitution claim. They are only interested in the easy money – the claim against the DUI driver’s auto insurance company.
At McGee, Lerer & Associates, our attorneys do get involved in our client’s restitution claims. We guide them through the restitution process. We believe the criminal defendant should feel the economic pain of the harm they caused to the injury victim. In fact, we leverage the restitution claim to get the defendant’s insurance carrier to pay more on the personal injury claim. Once the personal injury claim against the insurance company has settled, we go into criminal court with our client and assist by asking the criminal court judge to order the defendant to pay our client, out of the defendant’s own pocket. With a restitution claim, the criminal court judge can order the defendant to reimburse the injury victim for the attorney’s fees that the injury victim had to pay the personal injury attorney on the civil claim.
At McGee, Lerer & Associates, we want our clients to receive every penny to which they are entitled. We don’t just take the easy money. We fight for what’s right. If you or a loved one was injured in an accident involving a hit and run driver or drunk driver, call our firm for a free consultation, 24/7. If a drunk driver hit you while you were a motorist, bicyclist, or pedestrian, we can help. If you decide to hire us, you pay us nothing up front. We only get paid if we are successful in recovering money for you. We are paid out of the money the insurance company pays you.