No car accident case is as simple as it seems, this is especially the case when dealing with an impaired driver. You may be thinking, ‘a drunk driver hit me, what now?’ The best thing you can do is reach out to an experienced car accident attorney working for a law firm that specializes in auto accident and personal injury cases. We provide free consultations to victims that have suffered property damage or become injured by a drunk driver.
Getting hit by a drunk driver can change your life in an instant. One minute you’re on your way to work and then suddenly you’re hurt and having to deal with police officers, doctors, insurance adjusters, and lawyers.
In the moments following a drunk driving accident, you’ll probably feel confused and angry. Try to remain as calm as you can and take the following steps to protect yourself and prepare for a potential car accident claim or lawsuit.
Nothing is more important than your physical and mental health. If you or anyone else involved in the accident is injured, call 911 right away. You’ll get the medical treatment you need and have documentation of your injuries and treatment-related expenses.
Call the Police
Call the police too. An officer will speak to everyone involved in the accident and write a police report. Calling the police is essential when you suspect that you’ve been hit by a drunk driver. A police officer can have the driver complete field sobriety tests and take a breathalyzer or blood alcohol test.
The officer’s observations at the scene and the driver’s BAC test results are key pieces of evidence you and the government can use against the driver in civil and criminal court.
Exchange Insurance and Contact Information
Ask the police to help you exchange contact and insurance information with the other driver. You’ll want to get the driver’s full name, driver’s license number, license plate number, and car insurance details.
Document the Scene
After an accident, it’s a good idea to get the names and numbers of people who witnessed the accident. You should also take pictures of the scene, including all vehicles involved in the accident, street signs, traffic signals, and lighting conditions.
But take care not to interfere with the police investigation. The scene of a DUI accident is the scene of a potentially serious crime. DUIs involving personal injury or death are typically charged as felonies and penalties include months or years in prison. You’ll be able to use the information that an investigating officer gathers in your own insurance claim or lawsuit.
Talk to a Lawyer
DUI accidents are often serious and complex with criminal and civil consequences. If you’re the victim of a drunk driver, you might think that you will easily win your civil case and that you don’t need a lawyer. But a lawyer can help you figure out how much compensation you’re entitled to and then help you get it.
Is a Drunk Driver Automatically at Fault for an Accident?
You might think that a drunk driver who is involved in a car accident is automatically at fault for the accident, but that isn’t always the case.
To prove fault after a drunk driving accident, the person suing (the “plaintiff”) typically needs to show:
- the drunk driver (the “defendant”) owed the plaintiff a duty of care
- the defendant breached (violated) that duty, and
- the plaintiff suffered harm (“damages”) as a result of the defendant’s breach of duty.
All drivers have a duty to operate their vehicles with reasonable care and driving while intoxicated is a breach of that duty. But what if the driver’s intoxication isn’t the cause of the accident? For example, what if you rear-end an intoxicated driver at a stop light? Or what if you run a red light and t-bone an intoxicated driver? In these examples, the drunk driver may not be at fault for the accident. The drunk driver would still face criminal penalties for a DUI, but might not be financially on the hook for your injuries and losses.
If you and the drunk driver share blame for the accident, your state’s comparative fault rules will apply to your case. Your recovery may be reduced by your percentage of fault for the accident or barred altogether in a few states.
How Drunk Driving Accident Settlements Work
Before you race to the courthouse to file a lawsuit, you should try to reach a settlement with the drunk driver’s insurance company. Every state requires drivers to carry a certain amount of insurance. If you file a third-party claim against a drunk driver’s car insurance carrier, you might be able to negotiate a generous personal injury settlement.
You will have the upper hand during your negotiations with the drunk driver’s insurance company. Insurers know that a jury is likely to side with you over the drunk driver and will be highly motivated to reach an agreement before the case reaches the courthouse.
People who are injured in DUI accidents can typically recover compensation for the following compensatory damages:
- medical expenses (past and future)
- lost income (past and future)
- the cost to repair or replace damaged property
- rental car reimbursement, and
- pain and suffering (mental and physical).
Why Choose Attorney Caruthers?
If you or someone you love has been involved in a car accident and suffered an injury, experienced loss of income, or are unable to work due to a car accident, you can benefit from the services of a Houston car accident expert in your personal injury case. Whether you missed work due to an injury or due to not having access to a vehicle, Attorney Beverly R. Caruthers can help you!