If the Drunk Driver's insurance company totals out the vehicle of your loved one, the insurance company then owns the vehicle and can dispose of it when the criminal trial is completed. It will probably do so very quickly. Make sure you have police photos of the vehicle or take your own photos of the vehicle and crash scene.
Example: In my own case, my lawyer went looking for Rokes' vehicle about three months after the criminal trial was completed. State Farm, Rokes' insurance company claimed both vehicles three or four days after the verdict from the Black Hawk County impound lot.
Was there a report on the contents of the vehicles, or video tape?
The Drunk Driver's medical records need to be acquired. In my case, Rokes told Nurse Martha Lamb he was going 50 miles per hour, and wasn't wearing a seat belt. This was in her medial report on him.
Blood tests--"Legal Blood Draw" -- this is when the subject is Mirandized and gives written consent to have his/her blood taken for a Blood Alcohol Test. "Medical Blood Draw"-- this is when the blood is taken without written consent to test for alcohol and other substances when in the hospital. In one case, the vehicular homicide victim's medial blood sample results went to the appeals court before being admitted into evidence. Sartori Hospital took a medical sample of Juli's blood, she had not been drinking alcohol. The blood test is crucial evidence.
a, the law states a whole blood alcohol test done within 2 hours of the incident is the same as at the time of the incident.
PBT--A preliminary breath alcohol blood test may be administered. It is not admissible in criminal court. The results may not even be kept.
In my case, Philip Baskerville, the reconstructionist for the State of Iowa didn't interview any of the witness at the scene for their impression that Rokes was/wasn't speeding. The two of three witnesses to the collision all testified they thought Rokes was going too fast, he ran the flashing red light, and smelled of alcohol at the scene. Baskerville did take the word of Tracy Rokes, that he, Rokes, was going 45 miles per hour at the time of the crash. He never made a calculation in which Rokes exceeded the speed limit. Baskerville also implied Juli was going or exceeding the speed limit, but he couldn't prove it. Supposedly with the needle slap or splat that indicated that Juli might have been speeding. The dash was so smashed up Baskerville may have been incorrect, he wasn't sure. I have found nothing in the literature about the reliability of needle splat or needle slap evidence and Baskerville presented none.
For example: my lawyer tried to tell me that Juli was speeding, he lied to me about this, forgetting I had talked with Baskerville myself and knew that Baskerville wasn't
sure if Juli had been speeding. If she was, she may have been to try to get away from Rokes and avoid the crash.
Make sure you obtain copies of these from anyone connected with the investigation. Some reports may be filed later, so look later, too. In my case, one of the witnesses included an addendum to her report. More than one witness testified that the police actually told them they couldn't include that their impression of the drunk driver being drunk in their police reports. Supposedly the witnesses didn't know if Rokes was drunk or not. Even though they smelled alcohol on him and saw him staggering around.
Recollections of the Events:
Chronicle the events before the crash, of the crash, and subsequent events. Include as many details as possible. Include any weather conditions, victim's health, medications, glasses, and so on. A timeline might be helpful, fill in as many details as possible.
Deposition of Defense Toxicologist:
If the defense toxicologist includes mention of any of the usual ten defense tactics, be aware of what they are and how the defense toxicologist might misuse the truth. Drunks routinely run stop lights and stop signs. That's a usual clue for the police to suspect them of driving drunk. See Drunk Driving Defenses or Jones, A. W.; "DUI defenses" ; In: Steven B. Karch, Ed.; Drug Abuse Handbook, CRC Press, 1998, 1138p.
If the DEFENSE Toxicologist relies on the research of Dr. Kurt Dubowski, PhD. for blood alcohol research, then be advised, that the research is junk science. See information on expert witnesses. One such lies is concerning air bags. One expert offers up the Tyndall Effect to explain a high test result on an alcohol breath test. When the air bag goes off, the system releases a talc (powder) which the Drunk Driver inhales. This minute pieces of talc interfere with the breath testing equipment's ability to provide a correct test result. There is such a phenomenon as the Tyndall Effect. There is no reliable verifiable data to support this argument in the medical or alcohol literature. Check this out in Medline.
Toxicologists and expert witness cost quite a bit of money per hour from $250 and up. However, when you get to court it may as much as $450 or more per hour.
If you think your lawyer has contacted an expert witness, make note of the date the lawyer told you he spoke with the expert. Then check the billing, or ask the people in accounts what has been posted to your account. The lawyer may have had contacts with the experts that he/she hasn't told you about.
Previous speeding violations or drunk driving arrests may not be used in the criminal trial by the prosecution. In several instances, however, lawyers have told clients that their drunk driving records might be introduced at the civil trial. One person was advised to settle because her deceased husband was a reformed alcoholic. In another case, the father was told that his drunk driving arrest would be used against him in court. The father's lawyer would have to explain the his drunk driving arrest in court, if they went to trail. The father would be required to testify and the defense lawyers would crucify him on the witness stand. This is not true. It can't be used. Just as the Drunk's record may not be used, neither may your record be used. Though conversations with others, this is a usual lie that lawyer's tell their clients.
Administrator of the Estate:
If some one who is not the administrator, but a heir, threatens you with going to your lawyer and having you declared incompetent, it can't happen, that would be a conflict of interest especially if your spouse wants to use the same lawyer for this situation.
Words to be Aware of:
"I been doing this for twenty years". . .how do we know you've been doing it correctly?
"You won't get any more (money)" . . . unless you go to court, but you might loose.
"You have an obligation to the estate to settle." There would be little or no estate unless punitive action was taken. The lawyer just doesn't want to have to do the hard work.
Going to court is boring, hard work to pay attention to what's going on and understand it.