Drunk Driving Accidents
There is little more stressful than being the victim of a car accident that is not your fault, but if the driver who hit you may have been under the influence, the stress can be significantly amplified.
Those who are under the influence of alcohol can be volatile, making the situation equally so, but taking the right steps can protect your safety at the time of the accident and your interests following the accident.
• Call the police. The most important first step is to call the police. Not only will you keep that driver off the road so they can’t cause an accident with another driver, you will make sure that they face criminal penalties for driving under the influence. They will also more likely to be held liable for the damages or injuries they cause as a result of the accident.
• Collect necessary information. If you are able, the same rules that hold for any car accident hold for a drunk driving accident as well. Collect photos from the accident, interview witnesses and make sure you have the name of other driver in the accident along with the name of the officers who respond, so you can look up the accident report later. This will provide pertinent information when filing a claim, most likely with the other driver’s insurance company.
• Seek medical help. After an accident, adrenalin is high so you may not realize that you have suffered any injuries. Some take hours or days to reveal themselves, but a doctor will be able to determine any problems immediately during an exam. If you wait, you may not be able to claim the resulting bills for treatments or medications under the drunk driver’s insurance.
• Don’t settle right away. If you were seriously injured in the crash, and did not find out until much later – perhaps at the hospital – that your accident was the result of a drunk driver, be sure not to settle your case immediately. Insurance companies will still attempt to lowball you, and you may need therapy down the road that your claim will no longer cover. You will likely be asked to sign a release of liability form, which will result in a single payout, and this will prevent you from filing future claims for physical therapy, surgeries or other costs that arise unexpectedly based on your injuries.
• Call an attorney. An experienced personal injury attorney will be able to help you keep get the best settlement possible from the other driver’s insurance company, one that covers the cost of both repairs and injuries. Insurance companies can be intimidating – that’s their job; it saves them money – but an attorney is experienced in dealing with even the toughest insurance reps, and they will be tenacious on your behalf. Your attorney will be able to collect blood alcohol evidence and will be able to interpret the police report to determine exactly what happened.
There are a few things to remember when filing a claim with the drunk driver’s insurance company, however. You may need to file a personal injury lawsuit in order to recoup costs beyond what an insurance company will pay – hence the need for a car accident lawyer in Boynton Beach, FL – and a handful of states (California, Nevada and Florida) are no-fault, so your insurance company will be on the hook no matter who is at fault.
Thanks to Eric H. Luckman, P.A. for their insight into personal injury claims and car accidents involving drunk drivers.