In just an hour’s time, an average of one person has died in a crash involving a drunk or impaired driver. That’s just deaths. In 2017, there were 10,874 deaths caused by drunk/impaired driving. What about crashes that led to injuries? According to MADD, more than 300,000 people were injured in drunk driving crashes.
When you’re the victim in a crash involving a drunk or impaired driver, there are things you must do. Most importantly, make sure that you focus on yourself first. You need to take care of yourself. These are the steps you should take.
The impact of the car crash is over. You’re likely in shock. Adrenaline may be blocking the sensation of pain. Don’t move from your seat if possible. If you feel okay, it’s best to sit still and be assessed. If you have a dash-mounted phone or in-car Bluetooth system that can call emergency services, push the button. Wait for paramedics and police to arrive.
If your car is smoking and you worry there’s a fire, turn off the car if you can and get out. If the key won’t turn, just focus on getting out. Do so as slowly as possible and try not to shift your spine much. If there is a back or neck injury, you don’t want to worsen it. Find a place out of traffic to sit or lay down.
If possible, get photos of your car, your car’s contents, the accident scene, the other driver’s car, and traffic conditions. If you can’t, the police will get them for you. You can usually get copies from them if you ask.
Police will file a report. You want a copy of it. You also need the other driver’s insurance information, car information, the insurance company, and contact information. You need to get a claim started once you’re healed enough to make the call to the insurance company.
While you exchange information, don’t say anything more to the other driver. You don’t want to make any statements that could be used against you later to try to shift some blame to you. It may be hard when you’re angry and scared, but don’t confront the other driver. Only share your name, contact information, car information, and insurance information.
Go to the Hospital
Don’t refuse to be treated at the hospital if you feel okay. It’s better to be seen and make sure there is no internal or head injury that you don’t currently feel. As the adrenaline wears off, you’ll start to feel more pain.
Plus, you’ve got medical documents proving your injuries and instructions on what to do next. The doctor will tell you what to watch for. For example, you could have a concussion that worsens in a few hours. You want to know to watch for headaches and dizziness.
Take Time Off as Needed
If the doctor tells you that you have a concussion and need to take a week off of work, make sure you follow those orders. If you’re worried about losing your job, remember there are acts like FMLA that ensure you keep your job and insurance benefits if you need to take unpaid leave for an extended period of time. The other driver’s insurance covers lost wages, so don’t let the fear of losing income keep you from following the doctor’s orders.
Call an Attorney
When your car crash involves a drunk or impaired driver, you shouldn’t quickly agree to the insurance company’s settlement. There are a lot of things to consider. You may have lasting injuries, mental and physical, that affect your work performance weeks or months later. You could have a hard time finding a replacement car. You might need to go to his or her hearing as a witness to the drunk driving incident. That can mean taking time off work to attend the trial.
All of these impact a settlement figure, but the insurance company may not consider every aspect. When you accept the settlement, the company often requires you to sign a form stating you will not seek additional money in the future. You should always see a lawyer first to discuss the settlement offer and your rights.
It costs nothing to talk to an attorney about your drunk driving accident. Trial Lawyers for Justice offers free consultations. If the attorneys take your case, you still pay nothing. There is no fee unless you win your case. The lawyers at TL4J have won more than $1 billion for their clients. One client won $131 million after a driver was over-served and caused a drunk driving accident. You could be next. Call 866-TL4J-LAW now.