If you find yourself in the alarming situation of being hit by a drunk driver, immediate, clear actions are crucial for your safety, your health, and your legal rights. “What should I do if a drunk driver hits me?” you may ask. First, ensure your safety and that of others, then call emergency services. Next, gather evidence at the scene, seek medical attention promptly, and know how to handle insurance communications. Below, you’ll find a step-by-step guide on navigating the aftermath of this traumatic experience, from dealing with the initial impact to pursuing legal action without any unnecessary complexity.
Key Takeaways After Being Hit by a Drunk Driver
- Immediately following a drunk driving accident, it is crucial to call emergency services, ensure personal safety, and remain calm to handle the situation and protect one’s well-being effectively.
- Always call the police if you suspect the driver who hit you is intoxicated.
- Gathering detailed information at the accident scene is essential, including exchanging information with the impaired driver, documenting the scene with photos and notes, and collecting witness statements to bolster the case.
- Seeking immediate and follow-up medical care after a drunk driving incident is critical, as is maintaining organized records of all medical expenses and treatments, which are vital for later claims and legal proceedings.
Immediate Actions to Take After Getting Hit by a Drunk Driver
The moments following being hit by a drunk driving accident can be chaotic and disorienting. However, there are critical steps you can immediately take to safeguard your well-being and manage the situation effectively. You’ll need to call emergency services, ensure your safety, and stay composed amidst the upheaval.
Call Emergency Services
In the aftermath of a drunk driving accident, your first move should be to dial 911. This action ensures that emergency medical assistance arrives swiftly and police involvement is guaranteed, which is crucial for evidence collection and documentation.
The presence of police in drunk driving accidents involving drunk drivers is particularly important as it facilitates the collection of crucial evidence for both civil and criminal proceedings.
Ensure Your Safety
Your safety is of utmost importance. After the accident, follow these steps:
- Stop your vehicle without blocking traffic.
- Turn off your ignition to prevent fire-related hazards.
- Use traffic flares or keep your lights on at night to alert other drivers of the hazard and prevent additional accidents.
If injuries are apparent, prioritize rendering first aid and call for an ambulance immediately. Most importantly, keep a safe distance from the impaired driver to prevent confrontation and safeguard your safety.
Call the Police if You Suspect the Other Driver is Intoxicated
Often, a drunk driver will try very hard to convince you not to call the police. Don’t fall for it! Having the police investigate the drunk driver can help your case if you are hurt or seeking fair treatment from the other driver’s insurance company.
We can’t easily count the number of times a drunk driver convinced the victim to take their insurance information and not call the police, only to seek later to blame the victim for causing the crash.
Stay Calm and Composed
Keeping calm amidst the chaos of an accident is easier said than done. However, your ability to remain composed can significantly influence how the situation unfolds. The aftermath of a car accident is stressful, but taking deep breaths and counting backward slowly from ten can help in regaining composure.
Avoid arguing with the impaired driver and focus on dealing with the situation effectively.
Gathering Crucial Information at the Crash Scene
Collect important information at the scene once you’ve addressed the immediate safety concerns. This includes exchanging details with the impaired driver, documenting the accident scene, and collecting witness information. Collecting the right information can significantly aid your claim and provide valuable evidence if required.
Exchange Details with the Impaired Driver
Sharing information after a drunk driving accident isn’t merely advisable; in many states, it’s mandated by law. This includes vital details such as:
- Your full name
- Driver’s license number
- License plate number
- Car insurance details
Remember to remain calm during this exchange and avoid admitting fault or apologizing, as this could be used against you in future proceedings.
Document the Accident Scene
A well-documented accident scene can serve as substantial evidence for your claim. Here are some steps to follow:
- Use your phone to take pictures of the scene from various angles, capturing details such as vehicle damage, road conditions, surrounding areas, and any visible injuries.
- Make written notes of all parties involved, including witnesses.
- Measure skid marks, if any.
The documentation provided can be used as strong evidence to support your claim. It contains relevant information that can bolster your case.
Collect Witness Information
Witnesses can considerably bolster your case. Collect contact details and statements from any available witnesses. These accounts could provide a third-party perspective of the accident, supporting your account and further establishing the impaired driver’s liability.
Inform the responding police officers about any helpful witnesses and ensure you make your records.
Medical Evaluation and Treatment
Post a drunk driving accident, your health and well-being must be your foremost concern. It’s crucial to seek immediate medical attention and follow-up care, even if you feel fine initially. Some injuries may not manifest symptoms immediately but could be severe. Also, remember to keep records of all your medical expenses, as they are vital for your claim.
Immediate Medical Attention
Never downplay the possible injuries resulting from a drunk driving accident. Even if you feel fine, hidden injuries such as whiplash or a concussion may not show symptoms immediately. That’s why it’s crucial to get evaluated by medical professionals as soon as possible. Following their recommendations, including medication, physical therapy, and mental health support, is essential for a complete recovery.
Follow-up care is just as important as immediate medical attention. Some injuries may exhibit delayed symptoms that could indicate serious internal injuries. Timely follow-up visits to a healthcare provider can aid in detecting and treating these potential dangers.
Also, maintaining consistency with all scheduled follow-up appointments and following the recommended treatment supports the validity and severity of the injuries sustained in the accident.
Keep Records of Medical Expenses
Maintaining organized records of your medical bills and receipts is essential for your claim. These records provide a detailed account of all expenses related to the accident, including:
- Hospital bills
- Doctor’s fees
- Medication costs
- Rehabilitation expenses
- Transportation costs for medical appointments
These records help to validate your claim and ensure full compensation is received.
Consider keeping a daily journal to record all medical treatments, appointments, medications prescribed, and updates on pain and the impact of injuries on daily activities.
Reporting the Accident and Dealing with Insurance Companies
Informing your insurance company about the accident is a vital step in the process. It’s also important to know how to deal effectively with insurance companies, as they’re often more interested in minimizing their payouts than your well-being. Therefore, it’s important to be cautious and understand your rights when dealing with them.
Notify Your Insurance Company
If you were not at fault for the crash, consider reviewing your auto insurance policy to see if you have any benefits to help you. Promptly notifying your insurance company about the accident is crucial if you may have been partly at fault or if you may make a claim with your company. It ensures the claims process is initiated smoothly and enhances the chances of obtaining compensation. Be sure to provide all necessary information without admitting fault.
Remember, your insurance company is there to support you in such situations, so don’t hesitate to contact them.
Avoid Recorded Statements or Agreements
Insurance companies might request recorded statements or agreements. However, declining such requests is best without consulting your attorney first. Providing a recorded statement could be detrimental, as it may be scrutinized for inconsistencies or contradictions to undermine your claim.
Stick to providing only the necessary information and avoid making speculative statements or admitting fault.
Know Your Rights
Understanding your insurance coverage, state laws, and legal rights is key to ensuring fair compensation. You have the right to decline a recorded statement to insurance companies and to inform them that you are not ready to provide one. Be cautious about granting access to your complete medical history, and release only medical records that pertain directly to the injuries from the accident.
Also, avoid accepting the initial settlement offer as it may not fully consider the long-term impact of your injuries.
Legal Assistance and Pursuing a Claim
Initiating legal action against a drunk driver can be a complicated process. But with the right legal assistance and a well-prepared claim, you can fight for the compensation you deserve. It’s crucial to consult with an attorney, prove the drunk driver’s fault, and gather relevant evidence to pursue your claim successfully.
Consult with a DUI Accident Attorney
An experienced DUI accident lawyer can provide you with the necessary legal guidance and support to navigate through your personal injury case. They can help you:
- Understand your rights and options.
- Gather evidence to support your claim.
- Negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf.
- Pursue non-economic losses such as pain and suffering, which could greatly increase your compensation.
Additionally, in cases of extreme negligence, a lawyer can seek punitive damages against the drunk driver, further increasing your compensation from the drunk driver’s insurance company due to the drunk driver’s negligence.
Proving Fault and Gathering Evidence
To secure compensation, it’s imperative to prove the drunk driver’s negligence. This typically involves demonstrating the driver’s duty of care, a breach of that duty, the occurrence of injury, and specific damages resulting from it. Gathering essential evidence like police reports, breathalyzer results, and witness statements can help establish how the accident occurred and who is at fault.
Victims of drunk driving accidents are entitled to compensation for both economic and non-economic damages. Economic compensatory damages usually cover medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, and reduced earning potential. Non-economic damages may include compensation for pain and suffering, emotional distress, and anxiety.
In cases of extreme negligence, punitive damages can be awarded to punish and deter the negligent behavior of the drunk driver.
Statute of Limitations and Filing a Lawsuit
If you’re seeking compensation for a drunk driving accident, here are some important steps to take:
- Understand the statute of limitations in Texas, which sets the deadline for initiating legal proceedings.
- Consult with a lawyer to understand how to prepare and file a lawsuit.
- Familiarize yourself with the potential outcomes and compensation you can expect.
By following these steps, you can navigate the legal process and increase your chances of receiving the compensation you deserve.
Time Limits for Taking Legal Action
The statute of limitations for filing personal injury claims related to drunk driving accidents in Texas generally is two years from the date of the accident. However, these time limits can vary by state and can be influenced by specific circumstances, potentially extending or shortening the timeframe for taking legal action. Remember, missing this deadline can result in losing your right to pursue compensation, so acting promptly is crucial.
Preparing and Filing a Lawsuit
The process of preparing and filing a lawsuit against a drunk driver encompasses numerous steps. Your attorney will:
- Go over the details of the crash
- Identify liable parties
- Deduce an appropriate compensation figure
- Manage all the necessary legal affairs, including paperwork, court filings, and keeping track of deadlines and appearances.
As the case progresses, your attorney will also handle communications with insurance companies and defense attorneys, aiming to settle or, if necessary, present your case in court.
Potential Outcomes and Compensation
The potential outcomes in drunk driving cases can greatly differ based on the particulars of your case. You may receive compensation in the form of:
- Special damages for economic losses, including medical bills and lost wages
- General damages for losses like pain and suffering
- In cases of extreme negligence, punitive damages may be awarded as a penalty to the drunk driver and are over and above other compensatory damages.
After Being Hit By a Drunk Driver
In the traumatic aftermath of a drunk driving accident, knowing what actions to take can make a significant difference in protecting your rights and interests. From immediate actions at the accident scene to dealing with insurance companies, medical evaluations, and legal proceedings, each step is crucial. Remember, you’re not alone in this journey. Seek legal guidance and prioritize your health. The road to recovery might seem challenging, but with the right steps, justice can be served, and you can move toward healing.
Frequently Asked Questions
What happens if a drunk driver hits me?
If a drunk driver hits you, call 911 immediately to report the accident and gather contact information from any witnesses. You may be entitled to victim restitution or compensation through a civil claim for your losses.
What happens if you hit someone when drunk?
If you hit someone when drunk and cause serious injury, it can lead to a charge of intoxication assault, punishable by at least two years in prison and up to 10 years. It’s a serious offense that can have severe legal consequences.
What should you do if you spot a drunk driver?
If you spot a drunk driver, slow down, keep your distance, and pull over safely. Put as much distance between yourself and the driver as possible, and consider reporting the drunk driver.
What is the average settlement for a drunk driving accident in Texas?
The average settlement for a drunk driving accident in Texas typically ranges from approximately $30,000 to $100,000, varying based on the seriousness of the injuries and insurance coverage. However, for severe injuries or wrongful death, the cases can be in the millions.
What should I do immediately after a drunk driving accident?
After a drunk driving accident, immediately call the police and emergency services, ensure your safety, and try to remain calm. Gathering necessary information at the scene is crucial, including exchanging details with the impaired driver and collecting witness information.