Being involved in a car accident is hard enough. But, the resulting problems can be much more disastrous if a drunk driver caused the accident. In 2016, intoxicated motorists killed 10,497 in alcohol-impaired driving crashes, accounting for 28% of all traffic-related deaths in the United States. Of the 1,233 traffic deaths among children ages 0 to 14 years in 2016, 214 (17%) involved an alcohol-impaired driver.
If you were involved in an accident involving an intoxicated driver, you should know what to do next. The steps you take after the accident will have a significant impact on not only your ability to obtain maximum compensation but also your safety.
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Here are six tips you should follow if you were hit by a drunk driver.
- Safety Comes First
It may sound obvious, but the first thing you need to do is to call 911 for help even if it seems like a minor accident. Don’t go for an on-the-spot settlement with the at-fault driver. You are less likely to make the right decision when your mind is still recovering from the shock of being in an accident. Besides, the drunk driver may not be in a state to cut any deal with you.
The biggest advantage of calling the authorities is that they will record everything including collecting information from the drunk driver and eyewitnesses if there are any. So, wait for the police to arrive. Don’t leave the scene of the accident before the authorities show up, unless of course, you need immediate medical attention. Even if you are the victim, leaving the scene of the accident can result in legal complications.
- Collect as Much Information as You Can
Once you have made sure everyone is alright and called for help, you can collect as much information from the accident scene as possible. You should get the contact number and insurance information from the at-fault driver if he or she is in a state to exchange it. If not, you can at least note down the license plate number. You can also ask the investigating police officer to share the contact information of the at-fault driver.
The police will also take photographs. However, if you have a camera phone, take pictures of the accident scene. Make sure you capture any visible damage to your vehicle as well as the injuries to those involved in the accident. These photos will help your lawyer to build a strong case.
- Cooperate with the Authorities
It is perhaps the most important thing to do. You should co-operate with the authorities. Tell them what happened as accurately as possible. However, you are likely to overcome with emotions such as anger and fear.
As a result, you are more likely to exaggerate the details concerning the accident. However, any exaggeration will prove detrimental to your personal injury claim. So, refrain yourself from sharing more information than the authorities ask for.
- Report Your Accident to Your Insurance Provider
The next important step is to report the accident to your insurance company. Depending on your policy, your insurance company will cover the costs of damages and healthcare. Sometimes, however, your insurance company may contact the at-fault driver’s insurance company to cover the cost of medical expenses and damages.
The insurance company will require a copy of police report which you can obtain from the authorities and the details of the accident. You will also need to provide medical bills if they cover health care. So, keep a record of all your medical expenses to make sure every penny is covered by the insurance company.
- Keep All the Documents Organized
You should keep all documents related to the accident organized. Whether you are filing an insurance claim or a personal injury lawsuit, you will need these documents as the potential evidence. So, maintain a record of all the expenses including healthcare, car repair, legal expenses, long-term medical care, and auxiliary expenses.
Keep the contact information of all the persons related to the accident including the at-fault driver, lawyers, insurance agents, claim number, police report number, and claim adjuster who is working on your claim. Keeping things organized from the start will lay down a firm foundation for your case, should it go to the trial.
- Hire an experienced personal injury lawyer
Last but the most important thing is to hire a personal injury attorney for legal advice. Whether you file a third-party insurance claim or take your personal injury claim to court, you will need a legal adviser on your side. A driver careless enough to drunk-drive is less likely to feel any remorse and choose an amicable out-of-the-court settlement. Regardless, you should consult an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.
It is also advisable not to speak with anyone including your or at-fault driver’s insurance agents or the intoxicated driver’s; lawyer. Your lawyer will prevent you from making any statements or mistakes that will hurt your claim. They will also ensure that you file on time and you obtain the amount of compensation that you deserve.
You can take every precaution while you are on the road. However, things do get out of hand if someone else is drunk-driving. Unfortunately, drunk drivers are responsible for thousands of accidents every year. If you ever become a victim of a car crash involving an intoxicated driver, the above tips will prove helpful. These six tips will ensure not only your physical but also legal safety following the accident.
Mario Palermo is a lead attorney who consistently helps families in their time of need. Mr. Palermo’s 21 year track record in the legal industry speaks for itself. In both 2015 and 2016, Mr. Palermo was awarded the prestigious Litigator Award that represents the highest honor in Trial Law.