A drunk driver caused a rush hour pileup in Atlanta last Wednesday. According to police, the man caused 9 different wrecks, and one victim was seriously injured. The incident occurred when the drunk driver drove his commercial vehicle the wrong way up Interstate 85 and the Buford Highway connector near Buckhead. The driver, Richard Jernigan was charged with DUI, reckless driving, hit and run, leaving the scene of an accident and driving on the wrong side of the road. The perpetrator attempted to flee, but some local witnesses caught and physically detained him. Good for these folks.
This man’s behavior in driving under the influence of alcohol is obviously horrible. That being said, there are two things about this drunk driving incident that are really troubling. First, the man was seriously intoxicated in the middle of the afternoon on a Wednesday. He was drunk during rush hour when children were likely playing in the residential neighborhoods near or around Piedmont and Monroe. Thank goodness he was stopped before he wreaked more havoc. Second, because there were so many accident victims, it is likely that none will be fully compensated from the insurance policy of the drunk driver.
While insurance policies do cover DUI accidents, victims’ recoveries can be limited by the liability insurance policy. Typically these policies are written so that there is one dollar policy limit for each individual crash victim and another for all crash victims. For instance, the policy may read “25/50”. This means that the most any one victim can obtain is $25,000 and the most that all victims can get is $50,000. Even if a drunk driver kills someone, under the 25/50 policy, the most that drunk driver victim’s family could sue for is $25,000. Even if multiple victims are killed, the most the insurance company is required to pay out under that policy is $50,000.
How do you protect yourself? Please see my next post for an answer.
Police: Drunk Wrong-Way Driver Caused 9 Crashes, WSBTV.com, June 18, 2009