You have heard the horror stories. You have seen the ads and PSAs. You might even know someone who’s been involved in an accident with a drunk driver. By now, the dangers of driving drunk are well known. Unfortunately, alcohol-related accidents are still a serious and familiar problem. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention discovered that there are roughly 111 million self-reported incidents of alcohol-impaired driving among U.S. adults each year. It’s so common that, every day, an average of 800 people are injured in drunk driving accidents. While you hope it never happens to you or a loved one, it’s best to know how to handle the situation.
These are the nine (9) steps that you should take after being involved in an accident with a drunk driver:
It’s crucial that you call 911 to contact the police after any auto accident. It’s even more important when the accident involves a drunk driver. Let the dispatcher know your location, who is involved, any sustained injuries, and that you believe the other driver has been drinking. Responding authorities will arrive at the scene, provide necessary services and care, and look for clues of intoxication using methods such as field sobriety or breathalyzer tests. If they determine that the driver is under the influence beyond the legal limit, criminal charges can be filed.
Getting hit by a drunk driver can feel overwhelming, but it’s important that you make an effort to keep calm. Stay at the scene, do not admit fault under any circumstances, and look out for any signs that the motor vehicles could combust. Move away if necessary. Avoid being overly confrontational with the other driver and wait for the police to arrive. Keeping calm makes it easier to assess the situation and provide the police with the necessary information.
Pay attention to the other driver’s actions and mannerisms.
Take note of any signs of intoxication such as:
Report these signs to the police when they arrive. This will play an important role in your insurance and potential claims in court.
Be sure to collect and save relevant details such as the other drivers’ names, phone numbers, license numbers, registration, license plate, and insurance information. Write down the names and badge numbers of the responding officers. Write down your account of the car crash and how it occurred. Get contact information and testimony from any witnesses and authorities. Good evidence from the scene of the accident can become crucial information for your claim and greatly increase your chances of receiving appropriate compensation for the losses that you incurred as a result of the accident.
Photos serve as an especially effective tool for making your case in court. Use your cell phone or an available camera to take pictures of your car, the drunk driver’s vehicle, the road or intersection where the accident happened, and any other subsequent injuries or damages. If possible, collect video as well as photos. You and your auto accident attorney can use these photos and videos as evidence to support your claim.
Assess yourself and your passengers for any signs of injury. Be sure that you receive professional medical attention as soon as possible, especially if a serious injury has occurred. Prompt treatment will help ensure that your condition does not worsen. Some common car accident injuries can be hard to detect on your own, so it’s best that you receive an assessment from a medical professional after your accident. You will also need to prove that the drunk driver’s carelessness caused your injuries, so it’s crucial that a doctor documents your symptoms, injuries, and diagnoses. After receiving proper medical treatment, it is important to mitigate your injuries by following your doctor's orders.
Contact your insurance company as soon as you are able to do so. Report your accident with the details and information outlined in step four. This is especially important if any of the other drivers are uninsured. Be sure to include information about any damages to your vehicle, injuries sustained, and relevant doctors’ visits and treatments. Keep track of and report any related expenses such as medical bills and car repairs. Your agent will use this information to file a claim on your behalf and contact the other driver’s insurance company.
Work with the police officers and prosecutor as needed. Remember that you are the victim and that helping them understand the details of the accident will help your case. Make sure that you do not provide false information or admit that you did something you did not do. Remember, never admit fault. It is likely that the police will have you fill out a report or statement at the scene of the accident. If the accident and insurance claims go to court, seek the services of a car accident law firm.
Accidents involving drunk drivers often result in car accident lawsuits. Working with an experienced auto accident lawyer helps guarantee that your trial is as successful and stress-free as possible. He or she will help you to navigate the civil lawsuit process and can help you gain full compensation for your losses. This helps cover costs of out-of-pocket expenses like car repairs and medical expenses while also compensating for things like lost wages and emotional suffering.
“50 SIGNS OF VISIBLE INTOXICATION.” Oregon Liquor Control Commission, www.oregon.gov/olcc/docs/publications/50_signs_visible_intoxication.pdf.
“Impaired Driving: Get the Facts.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 24 Aug. 2020, www.cdc.gov/transportationsafety/impaired_driving/impaired-drv_factsheet.html.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/drunk-driving.
“Statistics.” MADD, www.madd.org/statistics/.
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