Twenty-nine percent of car accidents are caused by drunk drivers. If you have were injured by a drunk driver who is leaving a party, you may be wondering what you should do. To protect yourself legally and financially, check out these essential tips.
1. Get to Safety
Before doing anything after a car accident, make sure that you are in a safe position. If you are in a vehicle, move it out of the road if possible. Trust your instincts — don’t get out of your vehicle if you are worried about the other driver becoming physically violent or if passing traffic presents a potential danger.
2. Contact Your Local Authorities
Whenever you are in an accident, it’s important to contact your local authorities. If the other driver tries to convince you that you can settle this matter between the two of you, don’t respond. In most cases, you need a police report in order to make a claim to the insurance companies, and in situations with drunk drivers, the authorities can ensure that the driver doesn’t get back behind the wheel and cause another accident.
3. Collect Information from the Scene
If possible, try to collect as much information as you can from the scene of the accident. Ideally, you want the driver’s contact information, insurance details, and license plate number. If they have just left a party, you should ask for the host’s information as well. You should also get contact details for witnesses and bystanders who may have seen the accident happen.
When the police officer makes a report, ask for their card or some documentation related to the report. Keep in mind that it’s likely you’re dealing with injuries or shock, so collecting information may not be possible. Try to gather as much as you can without putting yourself in further danger.
4. Go to the Emergency Room
Many injuries suffered after a car accident take some time to show up. Regardless of how you feel immediately after the accident, you should still visit your local ER to protect your health. The ER physicians will evaluate you for a concussion, internal bleeding, or any other hidden injuries that are commonly seen after car accidents.
By seeing a doctor immediately, you also establish a connection between the injuries and the accident. That can be essential if you eventually need to make a claim against the drunk driver.
5. Reach out to a Personal Injury Attorney
After an accident with a drunk driver, they or their insurance company may offer you a settlement. As a rule of thumb, you shouldn’t accept any offer without first consulting an attorney. You need to ensure the settlement truly covers all your damages.
Many insurers offer lowball settlements that may cover damage to your vehicle or immediate medical costs, but most victims of drunk driving crashes suffer more than that. Depending on the specifics of your situation, you may lose wages, experience pain and suffering, develop PTSD, or deal with a variety of other financial, physical, and emotional costs.
6. Work with Your Attorney to Identify Other Liable Parties
An attorney can help you negotiate with the at-fault driver’s insurance company to ensure you get the fairest settlement possible. They may also be able to identify other liable parties. They may be able to hold the host of the party liable under social host laws or dram shop laws if a caterer or anyone else with a liquor license was responsible for serving alcohol to the driver.
7. Be Aware of Your Own Liability Concerns
Generally, when you are hit by a drunk driver, that individual or any other liable party may be responsible for your damages. As indicated above, that can include damage to the vehicle, medical expenses, lost wages, and any other expenses incurred as a result of the accident. At the same time, they may be liable for pain and suffering, disfigurement, or other non-economic damages. Depending on the specifics of the accident, the damages can total thousands or even into the millions.
As the driver of the other vehicle, however, you may be held responsible under comparative liability laws. In this situation, the courts assign a percentage of the accident that was your fault, and your settlement gets reduced accordingly. For instance, if you were texting and driving when a drunk driver ran a red light and hit your car, the courts may decide you are responsible for 20% of the accident and may reduce your settlement by that figure.
If you have been injured by a drunk driver, we may be able to help you. To set up a no-cost case evaluation, contact us today. At Mazow | McCullough, PC, we are committed to helping victims deal with the aftermath of drunk driving accidents.