More than a million drivers are arrested for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, which is only a fraction to the 111 million American adults that self-report their drunk driving habits each year. Dealing with a car accident is rather demanding, particularly if you suffer any injuries. Unfortunately, from a legal perspective, handling a collision case caused by a drunk driver adds a layer to your legal claim. Additionally, accidents involving non-sober drivers tend to be worse, resulting in greater injuries and damage. Understanding the right steps to take after being hit by a drunk driver will help reduce the stressful component of dealing with such an unpredictable event.
Personal injury compensation after being hit by a drunk driver does have a few differences when comparing the legalities of regular collision. No matter your situation, a key element to taking the proper steps after being involved in a collision with a drunk driver is consulting with a personal injury lawyer. Contact the Law Offices of Jennifer G. Tocci, P.C., (631) 343-7676 to schedule your complimentary thirty-minute consultation to discuss your rights and options.
What to do immediately following the accident:
- Safety First: Immediately after your accident, always put your safety first. If the situation permits, someone in the car should call 911 and ask for medical personnel. If you believe you’ve suffered an injury, do not try and leave the car unless the environment proves to be unsafe. If you feel of good health, try to get out of the way of traffic as best you can.
Intoxicated drivers may be belligerent, argumentative and at times, violent. For your safety, do not discuss your case at the scene. Dial 911 and allow the police to handle the situation.
- Exchange Information: Once you have moved into a safe area, you would normally exchange contact information, however, this may deem difficult if the other driver shows any signs of inebriation. If the other driver is reasonably coherent, exchange personal contact and insurance information. When the police are called to the scene, they will provide you with an Accident Information Exchange Form, which should contain the vehicle, insurance, and identification of the intoxicated party.
- Offer Your Suspicion to the Police: Although you cannot fully determine the other driver’s state of intoxication based on a brief discussion, you may mention your suspicion to the police officer at the scene. If the police officer does not find in his/her report that the other driver was under the influence, asserting it at a later time will not benefit you. Without proof, alleging that a driver was intoxicated at the time of your accident will not hold any weight. By alerting the police, they can perform a field sobriety test and measure the blood alcohol levels of the other driver. If the police have probable cause to suspect that the driver is under the influence of either drugs or alcohol, they are likely to cite them for a DUI. Tickets issued at the time of the accident may be used to litigate your personal injury claim.
- Gather Evidence: Only perform this step if you have been medically examined at the scene and show no signs of injuries and are not experiencing any pain. If an intoxicated driver is involved in your accident, chances are his/her recollection of the facts are going to be skewed and inaccurate. The best way to rebut false or inaccurate accountings of an accident is with proof. Do your best to document the accident. Use your phone to take pictures of your vehicle, any other vehicles involved in the accident and the scene surrounding the accident (i.e., broken road signs, tire marks on the pavement, etc.). A family member or attorney may gather evidence on your behalf if you are seriously injured.
- Call an Attorney: Calling a personal injury attorney after any accident helps ensure your rights are being protected and all the proper steps are being taken. Your attorney can help you pursue compensation for injuries.
Here at Tocci Law we emphasize the importance of the next step; make sure you receive a full medical assessment of any injuries. Click here to learn more about independent medical examinations and “no fault” auto insurance laws https://toccilaw.com/2019/11/05/independent-medical-examinations-the-basics/ .
In the act of drunk driving, the driver is neglecting their duty to uphold the laws of the road. By getting into an accident with a drunk driver, you may be able to recover medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more in both economic and noneconomic damages.
If you’ve been injured by a drunk driver, contact the Law Offices of Jennifer G. Tocci, P.C., (631) 343-7676 to discuss your rights and options.