Steps to Take After Being Hit by a Drunk Driver
Drunk driving accidents are devastating and preventable. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 37 people die each day across the US in accidents with drunk drivers. This means about 1 person is killed every 39 minutes in a drunk driving accident.
Drunk driving accident victims often deal with serious injuries, costly medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. An experienced car accident attorney can help drunk driving accident victims recover fair compensation for their damages.
If you were hit by a drunk driver, it’s crucial to take steps to ensure your safety and protect your rights. This guide can help you understand your legal options and the steps to take after a drunk driving crash.
Get to Safety
If it’s safe to do so, move your vehicle to the side of the road or a well-lit location to help prevent additional accidents. Turn on your hazard lights and stay inside of your vehicle until the police officers arrive.
Regardless of the severity of the accident, it’s crucial to call the police and report the incident. Inform the 911 operator about your location, the number of vehicles involved, and any visible injuries.
Ensure you get a police report detailing the drunk driving crash as it can aid in your insurance claim. Police reports can include the following information:
- The date, time, and location of the accident
- Contact details and insurance information of all parties involved
- Eyewitness information and statements
- The road conditions at the time
- Visual aids like diagrams and photographs of the accident scene
- The responding officer’s observations
- Any citations issued and arrests
- Driver’s field sobriety test performance (FST) – If the driver agrees to complete an FST, the results will typically be provided in the police report.
- Breath test results (PAS tests) – If the driver agrees to take a “preliminary alcohol screening” or breath test it will be included.
Get Medical Attention
Even if you feel fine, it’s essential to seek medical attention. Some injuries might not show immediate symptoms and an adrenaline rush can mask pain. A medical professional can evaluate your condition and provide necessary medical treatment. Follow your prescribed treatment plan and collect your medical records.
Exchange Insurance and Contact Information
Exchange crucial information with the other driver including the following:
- Full name
- Insurance information
- Vehicle registration
- License plate number
- Driver’s license
If possible, also collect contact information from witnesses and ask if they are willing to provide a statement. Witnesses can describe the behavior of the drunk driver leading up to the accident, such as erratic driving, swerving, or speeding. Witnesses may also be able to identify signs of intoxication in the impaired driver, such as slurred speech, poor coordination, or the smell of alcohol.
Use your phone to take pictures and videos of the accident scene. Ensure you get footage from different angles of the vehicle damage, skid marks, broken glass road conditions, and any relevant traffic signs. Visual evidence can aid the police in their investigation and is compelling when dealing with the insurance company.
Don’t Deal with the Insurance Company Alone
Notify your own insurance company as soon as possible about the auto accident and provide them with relevant details. The other driver’s company may try to reach out for a statement. It’s best to avoid discussing the details of the accident with the other driver’s insurance company without legal representation. Their goal will be to settle for the least amount possible.
Insurance adjusters will try to minimize their company’s financial liability. Anything you say could potentially be used against you to reduce your settlement or deny your personal injury claim.
Contact an Experienced Car Accident Lawyer
If you were hit by a drunk driver it’s crucial to understand and protect your legal rights. It’s crucial to consult with an experienced car accident lawyer, especially if you suspect you were hit by an impaired driver. A car accident attorney will help you preserve evidence, file a personal injury lawsuit, and protect your rights throughout the entire process.
Compensation Available in a Personal Injury Lawsuit
If you were hit by a drunk driver, you have the right to recover compensation for the injuries and losses you’ve suffered. The drunk driver’s insurance company can be held responsible for paying out compensation to cover the damages.
These are the tangible financial losses you’ve incurred due to the accident with the drunk driver. Economic damages are typically easy to calculate and can include:
- Medical bills
- Ongoing medical expenses
- Property damage
- Lost wages
- Cost of household services
- Cost of childcare
- Physical therapy expenses
- Other out-of-pocket costs.
These refer to the intangible losses that are more challenging to quantify.
Non-economic damages can include:
- Pain and suffering
- Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Mental distress
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Lost enjoyment of life
- Loss of consortium
- Wrongful death
In a personal injury case, punitive damages may be awarded at the discretion of the judge and jury. Punitive damages are meant to punish the drunk driver for their reckless or harmful behavior and deter others from similar actions. In cases of drunk driving accidents, punitive damages may apply.
What Do You Have to Prove to Recover Compensation After an Accident With a Drunk Driver?
While driving under the influence is a clear violation of the law, it’s not an automatic admission of fault in a civil lawsuit. To establish liability, you’ll need to prove negligence. It must be demonstrated that the driver’s actions deviated from what a reasonable person would do and directly caused the DUI accident, resulting in damages. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you prove the other party’s negligence in a civil claim.
Can You Sue a Drunk Driver for Hitting You?
Yes, you can sue a drunk driver for hitting you. In fact, pursuing legal action might be necessary to ensure you receive full and fair compensation for your losses. Consulting with a personal injury attorney can help you understand the legal process for DUI lawsuits.
Do I Have to Go to Court to Get Compensation?
Not necessarily. Most personal injury cases are settled outside of court through negotiations or alternative dispute resolution methods. However, if a fair settlement cannot be reached, going to court may be the best way to secure the compensation you deserve.
What Happens if a Drunk Driving Accident Causes Wrongful Death?
Sadly, drunk driving accidents can result in wrongful death. If you lost a loved one due to a drunk driver’s actions, you can pursue a wrongful death lawsuit to seek compensation for medical expenses, funeral costs, loss of income, and the emotional impact of losing a family member. A personal injury lawyer can help you hold the at-fault driver and their insurance company liable.
Can Family Members of People Hit by DUI Drivers Get Compensation?
Family members of individuals hit by DUI drivers can pursue compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit. Spouses, children, parents, and other dependents might be eligible to file a wrongful death suit.
Our Attorneys Defend Auto Accident Victims
If you or a loved one has been hit by a drunk driver, remember that you don’t have to navigate the legal complexities of DUI accident cases alone. At Alpha Accident Lawyers, our personal injury attorneys are here to help you seek justice, hold the at-fault driver accountable, and secure the compensation you deserve.
Our car accident lawyers maintain a 99% success rate and have recovered millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements for our clients. We are here to provide strategic legal advocacy and support during this challenging time. Call us to schedule a no-obligation, free consultation today.
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