Life is full of unexpected surprises, some good and some tragic. Getting hit by a drunk driver falls pretty close to the latter end of the spectrum.
Most people do not immediately know how to respond when they are in an accident with a drunk driver, but knowing the steps to take following a crash can impact the amount of compensation you receive.
Keep reading to learn what to do if you have been hit by a drunk driver.
What to do Immediately Following an Accident With a Drunk Driver
Follow these five steps to make sure your case is documented and handled appropriately. This ensures you have the best chance for compensation should it be necessary to bring a case to court later.
1. Call the Police
If you are able to safely do so, call the police right away. Calling law enforcement is necessary for a few reasons.
- You ensure that the accident is documented and on record
- You ensure evidence is maintained which might be necessary when seeking compensation
- You keep the intoxicated person from getting behind the wheel again
2. Cooperate Fully With the Police
While you are likely to be stressed and emotional, it is important to give an accurate statement to officers for the official report. Try not to exaggerate any details that could potentially make your story look “hyped up” later.
Stick to the facts and answer the questions asked in a straightforward manner.
3. Collect Necessary Information
Collect as much information before leaving the scene as possible. Get the other driver’s insurance and contact information, contact information from any witnesses at the scene, photographs of the accident and injuries, and the case number of the accident report.
4. Get Medical Treatment
Adrenaline can dull pain and make you unaware of injuries you might have until later.
Never turn down medical attention. If you are asked by an officer if you are injured, it is okay to say that you are not sure. It can sometimes take days or even weeks before the pain from an underlying injury starts to manifest.
It is okay to go in to get checked out after an accident, just to be safe. It establishes a timeline of care from the accident on for any injuries or chronic pain issues that stem from it.
5. Hire an Attorney Experienced in Personal Injury
After an accident, you could find yourself dealing with injuries, damages, and chronic pain issues or hospital appointments that require time off work.
Hiring an attorney who knows how to navigate personal injury cases can help you get the maximum compensation you are entitled to. They will investigate your claim, suggest the best course of action, and help you navigate through the complexities of the legal world.
This includes doing the hard work for you, including securing evidence needed to make your claim.
How to Deal With Insurance in a Drunk Driving Accident
In most states, the driver at fault in an accident is the one who is liable for any costs associated with the accident.
Some states have no-fault laws, however, meaning that all drivers must carry their own insurance to offset some of these damages. Florida is one of those states.
In this case, you will look to your own insurance first to cover the initial medical and income costs associated with the accident by filing a PIP, or personal injury protection, claim.
Most PIP claims include:
- Medical expenses for initial care, ongoing recovery, and rehabilitation
- Income replacement
- Survivor’s loss benefits, in the case of a fatality
Most PIP claims have strict timelines in which you must act to receive benefits, Therefore, you should act quickly to seek to recover benefits you are entitled to. This is another reason to hire an attorney quickly.
What Comes After Insurance
Even in a no-fault state where insurance is concerned, you may have a case to sue the drunk driver who hit you, among others, for compensation outside of insurance.
If you can prove the drunk driver was at fault, you have a case against that driver. If the driver has insurance, you can bring a claim against their insurance. If they do not have insurance or are underinsured, your own insurance might pay the difference if you carry uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage.
In some cases, you might also have a claim against other individuals – such as the establishment that sold the alcohol if they sold to an already intoxicated individual – or a homeowner that allowed an underage person to drink if the driver was under 21.
An experienced attorney will be able to help you prepare the case and determine if additional people, beyond the driver, should be involved.
Things to be Aware of After Being Hit by a Drunk Driver
Cases involving drunk drivers are not always cut and dried. Here are a few things to note.
- You could hold a percentage of fault. Depending on what happened, you could be assigned a percentage of the damages, known as comparative fault. This means that you hold a part of the blame, and any damages awarded will take this into account.
- You still have to prove fault. Do not just assume that because the driver was drunk, the case is won. You will need to show that the drunk driver was at fault for the accident.
- Your civil case will be different from the criminal case. While the state will bring a criminal suit against the drunk driver, your damages will not be part of it. You will need an attorney to bring a separate civil case against the driver to recoup your losses.
Find an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney Today!
If you have been hit by a drunk driver and need help navigating through your own personal injury suit, do not wait and risk losing part of your deserved compensation.
Call the attorneys at Beltz & Beltz today for a free consultation on your case, and let us help you get the full amount of compensation you are entitled to.