I Was Injured by a Drunk Driver. What Should I Do?
NHTSA statistics show that around 30 people die in drunk-driving crashes each day. This accounts only for deaths. In 2016, 34,748 DUI-related crashes occurred across the nation. Only 10,996 of those crashes were fatal. That means 65 non-fatal crashes involving a drunk driver happen each day. Each day, 95 crashes occur as a result of a drunk driver.
Those are the statistics. What if you’re one of those numbers? What if you’re one of the thousands that are injured during a crash with a drunk driver? You are entitled to money from the driver that will cover your medical expenses, cost to repair or replace your vehicle, income lost if you cannot work, and restitution for pain and suffering. This is what you must do.
Swap Insurance Information
Get the other driver’s insurance information if possible. If you’re injured, police will do this for you in the accident report. Contact the other driver’s insurance company if they don’t reach out to you first. You can also call your insurance agency. They may offer to reach the other company for you and start the claims process. Don’t agree to the settlement just yet.
Seek Medical Care
Hopefully, you’re not badly injured, but it’s important to have medical professionals examine you. It can take a few hours for the adrenaline you feel after an accident to wear off. You may not notice a sore or tender area at first. You should have yourself looked at as a precaution.
Soft tissue injuries, such as a seatbelt bruise across the hips and abdomen are common. If the dashboard or steering wheel pushed in or the airbag deployed, you could have broken ribs and other chest injuries.
The impact will jerk your body around. The seatbelt will do as much as it can to keep you secure, but you still may hit your head on the visor or steering wheel. Whiplash is possible. Back or spinal injuries are possible. You must have a professional check for these common injuries and others that are specific to the impact your vehicle took. A head-on crash may cause different injuries than if the impact is to the rear of your car.
When the adrenaline does wear off, seek urgent medical care if you’ve already been discharged and experience severe pain, nausea, or dizziness. It’s always better to be cautious after a crash. It may be nothing, but it’s important to let a doctor decide that.
Document Everything Related to the Crash and Its Aftermath
The more evidence you can provide, the easier it is to get the restitution you deserve. If you’re able to, get photos of the crash. Take photos of damages to both vehicles and any surrounding property that is damaged. Take photos of traffic lights, stop signs, and other indicators that determine who had right of way. If you have a dash cam, store that video footage and save an extra copy on a flash drive or other secure location as a backup.
Keep copies of every medical bill you receive and make sure this includes bills for prescriptions. Ask the doctor for copies of any x-rays or test results. If your health insurance or prescription coverage takes care of any bills in the meantime, ask them for copies of what they’ve paid as the driver’s insurance is responsible for your medical expenses.
Find out where a salvage company or mechanic towed your car. They will charge you for towing, so you want to have a copy of that bill, too. If the car can be repaired, get estimates from several mechanics and the vehicle’s dealer. If the car is deemed a total loss, ask for copies of the declaration that the car is totaled.
If you miss work, ask your boss for a signed letter stating what your hourly, daily, or weekly wages are. Get the amount of time you’re out of work in writing.
Does someone else have to drive you because you’re unable to drive? Keep track of dates and times you have to hire a cab or get a friend or family member to drive you. Track the mileage they are adding while driving you.
If you can drive, keep the bill for a rental car you’re using. You’ll need the rental until you have a replacement car or your car is fixed. The drunk driver’s insurance should cover the cost, but you want to have proof of what you paid just in case.
Make sure you fill out a police report and get the names of any officers who investigate the scene. If you don’t get a copy of the accident report, call and ask when you can inspect it.
Contact a Lawyer Now
When it’s clearly the other driver’s fault, his or her insurance may try to quickly settle. Don’t feel pressured into accepting a settlement. The insurance company is acting in the best interests of their company and the driver they represent. An attorney can help you look at their offer and determine if it is truly fair or not.
If you’re injured by a drunk driver, Carpenter, Zuckerman, and Rowley are ready to help discuss your options. It doesn’t matter if it’s day or night. Help is available 24 hours a day. Call or send a message through the live chat system. Attorneys work with you to make sure you get the compensation you deserve to cover expenses and loss of income while you heal.
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