Drunk driving accidents are among the most dangerous ones because an alcohol-impaired driver will not be able to respond in time or at all to prevent a collision. Such traffic crashes usually create severe financial, physical, and emotional problems for the sufferer.
After all, how can someone get over being sent to the hospital with no fault or mistake of their own?
However, there are even more urgent worries to consider: what to do immediately after such an event? This article aims at explaining the best practices for accident victims to help you deal with such crises much better.
Just be sure to contact experienced personal injury attorneys as soon as possible for handling such events because doing so on your own will only be a huge drag.
Depending on your condition at the time, you may or may not be able to complete all the steps described below but that’s okay, just hang in there and try to go through as many as you can without putting yourself at any risk.
Remember, drunk driving crashes are quite dangerous to deal with because you never know who the other party is, so be extra cautious.
With that said, here’s a general step-by-step guide for dealing with drunk driving accident claims:
Let's begin with the crash scene.
For minor alcohol-related accidents, you’ll first have to get your car to the side of the road to avoid disrupting the traffic flow or compromising road safety before anything else. In some cases, however, this may not be possible, especially if your vehicle is smashed pretty badly or if moving it is risky.
In such situations, just turn on the hazard lights and leave the vehicle.
This way, you’ll warn oncoming vehicles of the obstruction ahead. You may need help getting out of the car, depending on the severity of the crash, and if such is the case then you should not hesitate to ask for help, after all, we’re all humans.
However, if you can move the car then it is best to pull up by the side of the road.
It is a legal requirement to let the law enforcement know when there’s been an accident, immediately.
This means that you’ll have to dial 911 right on the spot and wait for the reporting officers to show up. If you can’t do so on your own (it is quite natural to feel shaken after such accidents), then ask a passerby to do so – hopefully, someone would’ve shown up by now to help you.
In case the crash was severe, you’ll also have to call the emergency medical services so that the victims can be rushed to the hospital. Let’s assume that the accident was moderately severe and you can find the strength to stay put for a while, then you should wait for the police officers to show up.
When the officers arrive, tell them all the details you can remember and ask for a copy of their accident report for your records.
Muster up the vestiges of your strength, take out your cell phone and start photographing and videotaping the whole scene. Photos of the accident scene, your injuries, the damage done to your vehicle, the number plate of the other vehicle, and so on can help you build a solid case.
The importance of firsthand evidence cannot be overstated, however, if, for some reason, you could not do so, ask your lawyer to launch an investigation to reveal as many details as possible.
Even with an abundance of evidence, you won’t know the full picture until later because facts may take time to unveil themselves. Thus be patient and avoid settling for a nominal sum as soon as the phone rings, patience will pay you here.
Ask the eyewitnesses to share their contact information because their testimonies can become valuable for your personal injury claim if things go to court. Be polite and don’t pressure them if they don’t want to share the information; they will most likely be cooperative.
As for the other driver, things will be a bit tricky.
Usually, it is a norm for motorists to exchange information after an automobile accident, and if that happens, then well and good. However, you should not count on it because a person under influence of drugs or alcohol may simply drive away (hit and run crash) or be too incapacitated to be of any help.
Don’t chase after the intoxicated driver and don’t try to confront them either.
Alcohol-impaired judgment and tough situations don’t make a good combination. Moreover, you know next to nothing about the at-fault driver, i.e. what if they have a history of violence? Caution is thus recommended.
But be sure to check on the driver, and if they need medical help, be courteous and call the ambulance.
Just a PS, at this stage, you should not apologize (even for the sake of politeness) or admit any part of the fault before the driver responsible for the crash. If the other party brings it up, just say that this is to be discussed later.
Remember, if you inadvertently admit part of the blame (even if you didn’t have any) then your case will lose its strength.
You should not delay seeing your doctor any more than 3 days after such a crash. By visiting a medical professional on time, you ensure that your condition is properly diagnosed on time and thus there is no possibility of your condition being linked with something that happened later on (the possibility).
Crash trauma includes severe injuries to the brain, visible injuries on the surface (cuts, scars, etc.), spinal cord injuries, neck injuries, muscle damage, fractured bones, and much more.
With a thorough diagnosis, you’ll know the extent of the physical damage (i.e. permanent injury, the expectation of any future pain, permanent disability, etc.) and be thus able to demand fair compensation.
Moreover, some cases necessitate psychiatric evaluation and therapy, you must go through these as well if you’re feeling any post-accident mental stress.
Experienced attorneys usually get medical experts on board to help improve your claims for potential liability on part of the at-fault parties.
A catastrophic injury can land you punitive damages as well, so be sure to share all the details with your lawyer.
Your injuries and emotional pain are both going to cost you a substantial sum. Just keep tabs on your compensatory damages such as your medical bills, property damage (vehicle repairs), lost wages, loss of earning potential (short term or long term, complete or partial), and extra damages.
As for the pain and suffering, having your doctor’s notes with you and journaling your experience are both quite effective at painting a detailed picture of how the accident affected your life.
If you keep a complete record of things, your demands for compensation via the liability insurance coverage of the responsible party will be much more solid than otherwise, and perhaps certain aspects of your case may win you punitive damages.
This is something you should never put off doing.
You may have several gaps in your case narrative for an alcohol-related crash and the insurance adjuster may seem eager to pay you for your losses. But you must be patient and seek legal advice from experienced personal injury attorneys before opting for a route.
Usually, the first offer from the insurance adjuster is the bare minimum of what the company can give you. Having a competent lawyer by your side will not only allow you to better exercise your legal rights but you will also be able to avoid all the traps laid down by the insurance adjuster.
Thus legal representation is not optional but instead a top priority if you want to be fairly compensated for your financial losses and other damages covered by insurance limits.
The trick to successful negotiations, if you don’t plan on taking things to the court via a lawsuit, is to watch what you are saying. Anything that you say, no matter how you phrase it, can be potentially used against you for cutting down your compensation sum.
Thus avoid inadvertently accepting any part of the blame or anything of the sort.
It is a good practice to have your personal injury lawyers do the talking on your behalf instead of disrupting the balance on your own. And before you go on and face the adjuster for your insurance claim, be sure to prepare your narrative with your lawyer so that your words strike the exact cords and win you a fair settlement.
If the insurer is being uncooperative, you can always walk out and settle matters in court via a civil lawsuit.
The latter is preferable for cases involving wrongful deaths as these will get the claimants much more than compensation for medical expenses and minor losses, instead, the settlement process will yield compensation for funeral expenses, long-term financial losses, and so on.
Even if the other person is not an insurance carrier, you should not give up your fight for financial compensation, instead, you can try out other options like the uninsured motorist coverage of your own insurance policy.
Now that we’ve gone through the basic steps, let’s talk money.
The insurance company surely hates this part. Don’t let their eagerness fool you: they want to pay up fast because they simply want to get away with paying the minimum amount under the insurance policy for the dangerous conditions you had to go through.
Yes, that courteous voice on the phone doesn’t care for you just like a family member, it’s all a quick/minimal payout trap.
If you want to get compensated fairly, contact a personal injury law firm to handle the legal process for you. We know that many victims feel hesitant calling accident lawyers because they feel they won’t be able to pay for their legal services.
You don’t need to worry about a thing because our legal teams at Calhoun, Meredith, & Sims, work on a contingency fee basis, which means that you’ll only have to pay when you win your compensation, and not a penny before that.
Legal consultation is also completely free so don’t wait to call us, and we’ll handle the rest!