What to do if You were Hit by a Drunk Driver
The number of injuries caused by drunk drivers each year is staggering. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2019 alone there were 10,142 deaths in the U.S. associated with driving under the influence.
If you find yourself in an accident, and you suspect it may have been caused by a drunk driver, make sure you call 911 immediately and stay at the scene of the accident. Law enforcement will need to be present at the scene, in order to assess the situation, and collect evidence. If you need medical assistance, law enforcement can arrange for this as well.
Some other important steps to take are:
- Take photos of the damaged vehicles, crash scene, and any visible injuries
- Identify potential witnesses for law enforcement to get statements from
- Make sure you obtain and keep any copies of medical costs and repair costs, in addition to lost wages
Learn More About What to do After a Car Accident
Are Drunk Drivers at Fault for Causing Car Accidents?
If you are injured when an intoxicated driver is at fault, you may be entitled to a claim against their insurance company. If their insurance policy does not have enough coverage, you may also have a claim against your own insurance company.
There are many factors to keep in mind when pursuing a drunk driving accident case, including:
- The amount of insurance available
- The injuries caused
- The age and impairment of the drunk driver
The fact that a driver is impaired does not automatically mean that they are at fault, and not every drunk driving accident results in criminal charges. The drunk driver may be charged by the District Attorney’s office with a crime. If a drunk driver is charged criminally will depend on the level of alcohol and/or drugs in the drunk driver’s system, and other factors, such as damages and injuries caused.
If the drunk driver is charged criminally, you as the victim can confer with the District Attorney, attend all the legal proceedings of the drunk driver, and make a statement at sentencing. You also may be able to collect restitution.
Types of Compensation for Being Hit by a Drunk Driver
Thankfully, insurance companies must provide coverage when a driver they insure is negligent. Even if no criminal charges were filed, if you were injured in a drunk driving accident, you may have options to receive compensation:
- Wrongful Death or Injuries: There must be proof that the death was wrongful, and that the defendant was directly negligent.
- Medical expenses: any medical bills in relation to the accident, and other expenses- such as prescriptions, medical equipment, or co-pays.
- Lost wages: time missed from work due to medical treatment necessary for your recovery.
- Punitive Damages: These are assessed at a certain point in the legal process, based on a few factors such as:
- The level of alcohol concentration in the drunk driver’s system at the time of the collision.
- Whether the drunk driver had previously been convicted of other drinking and driving offenses.
- How reckless the drunk driver’s actions were.
Hit by a Drunk Driver?
As you can see, a crash with a drunk driver can be complicated. However, an experienced accident attorney can advocate for you. They can talk to all the insurance companies involved. They have the knowledge, skills, and expertise needed, to obtain a fair settlement in your case.