Legal status of auto accident with two intoxicated drivers?

What are the legal rights and responsibilities of each party if party A, clearly intoxicated and driving a vehicle, strikes, in a reverse motion, party B’s vehicle and neither decide to involve, currently, law enforcement because they are both intoxicated? The incident is clearly party A’s fault which he readily confesses to party B. Party B acquires party A’s license number, vehicle registration and insurance information (which is later found to have expired several months before the incident). Both parties exchange phone numbers and part with no third party involvement.

 Four days later, party A calls party B and expresses his desire to provide restitution to party B, but in piecemeal fashion.  Party B rejects this proposal and decides to file a police report so that he may involve both parties insurance providers (still not knowing to this point that party A has no insurance) to resolve the matter expeditiously.  Thusly, party B files a claim with law enforcement independent of party A.  The investigating officer later interviews party A.  The investigating law enforcement official states that she cannot properly pursue an investigation because the scene of the incidence no longer exists and it is days later.  So the law enforcement official provides each party with an accident report and summarily adjudicates the matter without investigation or criminal allegation; essentially leaving party B and his insurance representitive in a hearsay standoff with party A, sans insurance representation.  

 What is each parties legal claim and obligation.  What legal claim, if any, would party B and his insurance representative have against party A given that any legal procedure regarding the incident was abandoned, mutually, shortly after the event.  However clear it may be that party A's vehicle reversed into party B's vehicle causing damage in excess of $1000, is party A legally liable if no legal authority was able to investigate the incident.  Party A also claims that party B was in the street occluding party A's drive way as he reversed into the street.  With countering testimony, how could this incident be legally adjudicated with bias in favor of one party or the other?

I am aware that a person reversing in a vehicle, who strikes another vehicle, accepts a greater portion of the fault; however, as I’ve aformentioned, there is no third party legal representation, only dueling testimonies, ex post facto, from the parties involved.

Assume this incident occured in the state of Illinois.

I heartily recommend going to a real, live lawyer for a consultation. This isn’t the kind of situation where you should take message board advice from well-intentioned strangers.

I agree. But I know there are more than a few lawyers on this message board capable of giving solid legal advice. Of course I would formally enlist a lawyer before taking any legal action. I’m just wondering if it is necessary or fruitful at this stage. Just seeking legal opinions is all.

And the only solid legal advice those lawyers give on message boards is to themselves, to wit: never give legal advice to strangers on a message board. :slight_smile:

Those lawyers would, however, suggest that you talk to a lawyer in your own jurisdiction who is knowledgeable in this area. If you don’t know a lawyer in your own jurisdiction, call the local bar association - most of them have referral systems to help you find a lawyer who practices in the area of the law that you need help with.

I am not your lawyer, you are not my client, and this is not intended to be legal advice, merely a comment to assist you in finding a lawyer who can help you.

Respectfully, I have graduated law school and no longer have to take issue-spotting exams like the OP. And may I just say reading the OP gave me the same sick feeling I used to get right around exam time.

First, what follows is not legal advice, as will become abundantly clear in a moment. I am not your lawyer. You are not my client.

I really don’t understand the OP. Someone backed into someone else, and they were both drunk, and now the one guy admits he doesn’t have insurance so what should the other guy do? I can tell, by the length and intricacy of the OP that I’ve left quite a bit out; many of the omitted facts may be dispositive and, moreover, there may be dispositive facts not given in the OP. Nevertheless, I don’t understand the OP, so I’ll move on.

Let’s assume this is a real, live hypo. So, here goes: Well, they should both talk to real lawyers, admitted in their jurisdiction. If the amount of money at issue is too small to justify getting a lawyer, they should call their local bar association’s hotline for free/cheap legal advice from a lawyer admitted in their jurisdiction. They hypo asks us to assume that the jurisdiction at issue is Illiniois. We should, therefore, consider the Chicago Bar Association or the Illinois Bar Association’s lawyer referral program.

However, to the extent that you are asking for actual legal advice about a real situation, the only advice you should get and ought to take is that already offered by Invisible Wombat. On preview, I also defer to my esteemed colleague to the north.

I’m a lawyer, licensed in Illinois. Sorry, I’m not touching this one. I don’t provide legal advice about real-world situations on message boards.

Accordingly, I second Campion’s suggestions. See an Illinois lawyer who can properly interview you, in person.

(If you do, I will give you one piece of non-legal advice - tell your story in plain language without trying to use pseudo-legalese. Lawyer tend to recognize signs of certain types of problem clients, and among such indicators are the overuse/misuse of big legal words and firmly held misconceptions about what legal issues apply. If you came to me, and told the story as you have here, I’d suspect that I’d have to waste a lot of my time and your money explaining (and probably arguing) such things as why there’s no hearsay issue here, and the differences between criminal and civil liability, a process that would make neither of us happy. Don’t get me wrong - I enjoy explaining/discussing such things with clients and am happy to answer questions, but there’s a certain category of person that’s never happy with explanations that aren’t perfectly congruent with his preconceptions, and the way you’ve presented things here throws of that vibe.)

sigh. …throws off that vibe.

Yeah. Legal issues are so sticky that most fear to lay hands upon them for fear of never being able to wash them away. Thusly I appreciate your guarded stance. Thank you for the input.

LOL. Big legal words? Riggggght. Can you please give me your name or, at the very least, the name of the city and office at which you practice? I don’t want to accidently bumble into it someday.

…And, is anyone else thinking that two drunken drivers deserve each other? :rolleyes:

If I was drunk and involved in an accident but had avoided getting arrested, no WAAAY I would be suing anybody.
I’d just take whatever damage came my way and whistle until I was off-camera, off the scene, and wholly anonymous.
It’d be like me slapping Osama bin Laden in a dispute over some cheesecake, and him calling the Akron Police Department to have me arrested on assault charges.
I’m not a lawyer. All my legal advice is bad. If you choose to take my advice as good legal advice, my rate is $5M/hr, so cough up. I’ve never been to Illinois, so I’m certainly not licensed to practice there.


Random seemed to be trying to give you advice. Gratitude might have been a more appropriate response. I hope you’re not holding your breath while you wait for more advice.

I certainly don’t think you should have to “dumb down” your speech for anyone–and I don’t think that’s what Random was saying–but using legal jargon as a layman is more likely to confuse the matter than it is to help.

Take your sentence, “With countering testimony, how could this incident be legally adjudicated with bias in favor of one party or the other?” It has plenty of legalese in it, but I don’t understand what you’re asking. Granted, I am not a lawyer, but I’ve written for two different law magazines and I owned a legal technology company, so I have a better grasp of the jargon than most laymen.

Too much jargon makes your question harder for a specialist to understand, not easier, unless you work in that field and you understand all of the nuances of the terms.

At this point does drunkeness have anything to do with it? In any case, doesn’t insurance in your state have uninsured driver coverage?

IAAL, in California. I am not your lawyer. I am not licensed in Illinois. This post is not intended to be legal advice.

That said, my advice to you is to listen to Random and Perderabo.

Get a phone book. Call a local attorney. Request a FREE consultation. If they say no free consultations, call the next one. If they say they are not interested in your case. Call the next one. It’s much more effective and accurate than a message board.

Look, if there is something worse than a client with wrongful preconceptions, it’s a lawyer with wrongful preconceptions. His post was, all in one, unecessary (it had already been explained twice), pretentious (big legal words, as he says, are reserved for lawyers!?) and presumptious.

Don’t get me wrong. I appreciated that Random offered his advice, however unnecessary at that point; and I guess this is akin to complaining that the $100 dollar bill someone just gave me has an ink mark on it. But just because you offer me, and I accept, free money does not mean I have to like it when you slug me in the face.

Huh? I’m asking for someone to define the rules. You’re the lawyer (alledgedly) with the education in law; I am not. To expect confrontation from someone who uses complex legal words like adjudication is pretty aggressive, pretentious and arrogantly presumptious; some of the worst characteristics of a person to whom you’re paying money to save your liberty.

—bold by me.

Because I used “adjudicate” and “hearsay” in my OP I am now a problem client who wants to contour the law to my preference and will confront any who say I can’t?

I’m sure that’s true. But when did lawyers gain the ability and obligation to assess and place the general population into categories and to have presumptions and expectations of a person’s demeanor?

Look, this is the GQ forum and this ill fated thread obviously was intended as a GQ (quite likely with TMI). But the thread has run the course of usefulness. I was more than content with the advice Campion and Northern Piper offered. Any post beyond that was extraneous, but appreciated.

That being said, I do realize my OP was poorly structured and subsequently confusing to others. But it was a product of bad organization and grammatical structure, not dialect.

Probably only those who have never done it before. Also those whose house is unimpeachably clean.

The thing is that there is now no proof that either party was intoxicated. Now it’s merely a battle of who is at fault. I only mentioned the intoxicated part in the OP to explain why the two parties didn’t inform law enforcement immediately after the incident. Balthisar is correct. Drunkenness has nothing to do with it…now.

So I guess the question I should have asked in the beginning is this:

Can a court find a person at fault in an auto accident when no police officer investigated the accident and each party contends it was the others’ fault?

And, for the record, I am visiting a lawyer next week to find out.

Thank you Bearflag70 and InvisibleWombat for your advice. I didn’t realize so many lawyers offered free, initial counselling.

Sebensee, you’ve misunderstood Random’s post. His advice is good; namely, when you talk to a lawyer, tell your story in plain language. When you add in lots of legalese, it gets confusing, primarily because I don’t know if you know what the words mean. So then, I need to explain to you what the words mean to see if you mean that. (I also had a law professor tell us that using legalese, rather than plain English, is the sign of a poor lawyer.)

I’ll give you an example from the OP:

The legal phrases in here include “summarily adjudicates,” “criminal allegation,” and “hearsay.” Summary adjudication refers to a particular type of legal procedure; I don’t think you mean that here. Ditto criminal allegation. As for hearsay, I don’t understand how that plays out here (who is saying what? that’s the only way to tell if we even need to address the hearsay rules).

Random’s point was this: when you go talk to a lawyer, be as plain as you can. Maybe you talk like you wrote in the OP. If so, so be it. I’ve met people who do talk like that. But when you add in phrases that have a particular legal meaning, but use them in such a way that it appears you don’t mean them as lawyers mean them, it takes us extra time to sort out your problem. Incidentally, that’s what I meant when I said I didn’t understand the OP.

I think the sentence of the OP quoted above might mean: “So the cop gave us each a copy of the accident report, and said that the cops weren’t going to do anything else. That means that one guy has an insurance company rep to help him, and the other guy just has to represent himself. How does this get resolved, since each side is just going to say what they think happened?”

Do you see how that might be easier for a lawyer to parse out? Big legal words are not reserved for lawyers, but there is a general rule of language: don’t use words unless you’re certain of their meaning. And even if you’re certain of their meaning, there’s some words you should avoid unless you’re certain of your audience. It’s generally good advice.

Lawyers are always in the business of evaluating a client’s potential; will this person pay? will this person tell me the truth? will this person make trouble for me – create disputes, or make me chase down tons of rabbit holes without a likelihood of success? That is, I think, what Random meant. I’m sorry you took offense at that – I believe the words of advice were offered kindly and in an attempt to add to your knowledge base as you address this problem.

Best of luck to you.

In my state, you can only back up if you can safely do so, having a clear and unobstuctive view of the road. Thus the assumption is that A is in the wrong.

----snipped to conserve space.


Your point is well understood and accepted. I appreciate the clarification and thank you for your wish of best luck.