If you or someone close to you was recently injured or killed in a DUI auto accident, here are ten steps to consider:
What Do You Do If You Get Hit By A Drunk Driver?
1. Seek Medical Care Immediately
Looking out for your own health should be the top priority following injuries caused by a drunk driver. Emergency medical personnel should be called to the scene as soon as possible so that any injuries can be attended to before the condition of those injured becomes worse.
Even if you don’t think you were injured too badly, it’s still important to seek medical attention. The severity of injuries suffered in car crashes is not always immediately apparent. It’s fairly common for car accident injuries to only begin showing their most severe symptoms in the days or weeks following the crash.
Prompt medical attention can help find potential injuries and reduce the severity of the damage before chronic pain and other conditions develop.
Additionally, it’s wise to begin documenting your injuries as soon as possible in order to ensure that you recover the maximum compensation you need and deserve.
2. Make Sure Police Are Called to the Scene
When you call 911 for medical attention, police officers will most likely respond to the scene as well. This step is key for a number of reasons.
First, it’s important to document the accident, as you will need this information when you file an insurance claim or a lawsuit against the other driver’s insurance company.
Additionally, if the driver was under the influence of alcohol, it’s important that they face criminal penalties for their actions. Inebriated drivers endanger everyone who crosses their path on the roads. They must be held accountable for endangering the public with their reckless decision to get behind the wheel while intoxicated.
The police will determine if the driver was indeed intoxicated and will compile an official report detailing the circumstances of the crash. If you’re able to, we advise giving them as much detail as possible about the events leading up to the crash, such as erratic driving which made you suspect that the driver was drunk.
3. Get Contact Information From Responding Officers
We advise asking the responding officers for their names so that you can follow up with them later. These officers may be valuable witnesses in a civil lawsuit against the impaired driver or a negligent third party, such as an alcohol vendor.
4. Get Names and Contact Information From Witnesses
Did anyone else see the crash happen? If so, it’s important to gather names and contact information from those individuals. If you end up filing a personal injury or dram shop lawsuit, these witnesses can help you prove the guilt of the other driver in a civil courtroom.
We also advise asking the police for the contact and insurance information from the driver who caused the crash.
5. Note Any Nearby Cameras
If you were badly injured, it may not be possible to look for nearby cameras following the crash. But in the days following the crash, we recommend having a family member return to the scene to see if there were any cameras in the area that may have captured the crash on video. You can also contact the police to see if they already took this step themselves and have reviewed the footage.
6. Take Photos and Videos of the Scene
If possible, take your own photos and videos of the scene – including the damage done to both vehicles and your injuries. These photos and footage can be analyzed by experts and used in court should you end up filing a lawsuit that goes to trial. They can also be used as evidence in settlement negotiations.
7. Write Down Everything You Remember About The Crash
When the time comes to file a lawsuit and insurance claim against intoxicated drivers for an injury, the more information the better. Try to note everything that you can remember about the crash, including how the other driver was driving and what led to the accident. It is best to do this as soon as you possibly can following the crash, while your memory is still fresh. If there were other people in your vehicle at the time, we advise discussing the crash with them to get a more accurate picture of what happened.
8. Note Pain, Suffering, & Other Damages Caused by Crash
When seeking financial compensation for injuries suffered in a DUI accident, the amount you recover will be based on the damages you’ve suffered.
These damages may be financial as well as emotional. Take the time to write down all of your struggles after the crash, including:
- the injuries you’ve suffered
- the severity of your pain
- the financial setbacks you’re facing
- the emotional costs of the incident
- life disruptions, such as an inability to return to work
- and other difficulties you’re facing because of the incident
9. Participate in Criminal Proceedings Against the Drunk Driver
It’s important for criminal courts to take into account the full damage done by drunk drivers. Those who have been injured in these reckless crashes can have a powerful impact if they participate in the criminal proceedings against the driver. In general, judges will be less open to plea deals in such cases that resulted in serious injuries to others.
The results of these criminal proceedings could also be valuable in a civil courtroom if you file a personal injury lawsuit against the intoxicated driver or a dram shop lawsuit against an alcohol vendor who wrongfully served that driver before the crash.
10. Speak With a Lawyer Who Represents People Injured After Being Hit By A Drunk Driver in Your State
In order to ensure that you’re able to recover every dollar you need and deserve, it’s best to seek guidance from an attorney who is experienced in cases involving people who have been hit by drivers that were inebriated.
Like other car accident cases involving negligence, you may have grounds for a personal injury lawsuit (or a wrongful death lawsuit for families of fatal accident victims) against the person responsible for causing the crash. However, there are situations where you also may have grounds for further legal action against a third party, such as an alcohol vendor or social host.
An attorney who is experienced in representing the victims of drunk drivers can help you recover the maximum settlement or court verdict that you’re entitled to for damages such as:
- Pain and suffering
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages from missed time at work
- Loss of future earning potential
- Loss of consortium for families of fatal crash victims
Dram Shop Laws – Third Party Liability For Drunk Driving Accidents
Many states have dram shop laws, which are in place to hold alcohol vendors liable for negligently providing alcohol to someone who should not have been served. In most dram shop states, these laws are applied in situations where an alcohol vendor (like a bar or restaurant) served alcohol to one who was either under the legal drinking age or visibly intoxicated at the time the alcohol was served.
43 states and the District of Columbia have some form of a dram shop law on the books. Here is a list of states with such laws:
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
Dram shop laws can vary significantly from state to state. This is why it’s important to find a lawyer who specializes in representing victims of drunk drivers in the state where your crash occurred. An attorney who is experienced in this field can help ensure that you recover every cent you need and deserve for the financial and personal setbacks you’re facing.
If you can, we advise finding out where the individual driving under the influence was drinking prior to the crash. An experienced dram shop lawyer can use this information to investigate whether the alcohol vendor was at fault for serving someone who was either underage or already visibly intoxicated at the time the alcohol was provided to them.
What If I Was Hit by a Drunk Driver With No Insurance?
A dram shop claim can be especially helpful if you were hit by a drunk driver with no insurance. While you may struggle to recover financial compensation in a personal injury claim against the at-fault driver with no insurance, you may still have the chance to get the financial support you need by holding the alcohol vendor liable for serving a customer they shouldn’t have.