What Do I Do If I’m Hit By a Drunk Driver?
It’s a fact that drunk driving accidents don’t have to happen. Driving while impaired is a choice that people make, and the injuries and deaths that result from collisions caused by this behavior never have to occur. Unfortunately, tens of thousands of people fall victim to drunk driving accidents each year.
Like any accident, there are steps to be taken if you are involved in such a collision. The aftermath of an accident can be overwhelming, but the steps you take can help protect your legal rights to compensation. Here is what you need to do if you are the victim of an impaired driver.
If you are able to, check on any other drivers and passengers involved in the accident and assess injuries. You may be able to provide first-aid or life-saving assistance if you are trained to do so and confident in your abilities.
Before rendering aid, it is always recommended that you:
- Tell the victim about any first-aid or CPR certifications you hold
- Ask for permission to render aid
- Explain what you are going to do or are doing
If the person refuses your assistance, do not force the issue, even if they are obviously injured. It is up to the person if they are willing to allow you to help and you must respect their decision.
Call Emergency Services
In most cases, the fastest way to get help is to call 911. Advise the dispatcher that you have been involved in an accident and answer the questions you are asked. Do not be tempted to offer your opinion regarding the incident. Stick to the facts, and if there is a question you don’t know the answer to, be honest. Anything you say can be used in court should the case go that far. Keep that in mind.
After the dispatcher determines whether you need police, fire, or ambulance services — or a combination of services — they will give you instructions. You may be asked to leave your vehicle where it is or to move it off the road if it is driveable. Follow the instructions you are given and wait for emergency services to arrive.
If it is safe to do so, you will want photographic evidence of the scene. Take pictures or video of:
- Your vehicle. Be sure to take pictures of damage from several different angles.
- Other vehicles (from different angles)
- The roadway
- The surrounding area
- License plates of vehicles involved in the accident
Along with pictures or videos, speak to anyone involved and any witnesses that stayed to offer help. Ask for names, contact information, and, for those involved, insurance information. If someone refuses to provide information, do not press the issue. Let police officers who arrive on the scene get the information.
Pay Close Attention to Evidence of Intoxication
When you have been hit by a driver and suspect they are intoxicated, make note of all the factors that indicate they are under the influence. Common signs of intoxication include:
- Slurred speech
- Stumbling, lack of coordination
- Sudden mood swings
- Difficulty focusing on the situation
- The smell of alcohol
- Visible empty bottles, cans, etc
Report these signs to the responding officer.
One major risk to getting compensation after a drunk driving incident is that the driver may flee the scene. They may also try to convince you not to call for law enforcement to respond to the accident. You are best off photographing the vehicle license plate number and getting the driver’s contact information as soon as possible in case they try to flee.
The officers who arrive on the scene will interview everyone involved in the accident who has not been immediately transported by medical personnel. Avoid the temptation to offer your opinion, exaggerate or elaborate. Do provide specific evidence that the other driver may be intoxicated, including the reasoning you may have used to arrive at the possibility. Answer the questions you are asked with factual information as succinctly as you can. Do not admit fault, and do not apologize for anything you believe you may have done to contribute to the accident.
Keep in mind that police are on scene to collect evidence and ultimately determine fault. Should your case go to court, any information that you give the police officer can be used.
Contact Your Insurance Agent
Your insurance policy paperwork will dictate how long you have to contact your agent after the accident. This is an important step even if you weren’t at fault. Just as you did when you spoke with the police, offer only factual answers to the questions you are asked. Do not tell the agent that you aren’t injured — if you are asked, the right answer is that you do not know.
A Word On Medical Care
It is not unusual for injuries to appear days after a car accident, and in many cases, it can take up to 30 days before injuries become readily apparent. It is important to seek medical care after an accident even if you didn’t seek emergency treatment on the scene. Let a doctor examine and diagnose you properly following your accident.
Contact a Long Island Car Accident Lawyer
When you are involved in a crash with a drunk driver in Long Island, it is important to protect your rights. When you are offered a settlement from an insurance company, do not assume that it is one that is in your best interests. These companies are looking out for their bottom line, not your best interest.
At TonaLaw, we work on a contingency basis — we do not get a penny until we successfully settle or win your case. It costs you nothing to discover how we can assist you. Contact us at (631) 780-5355, 1-833-TONALAW or by contacting us online to discuss your case or schedule a video conference with a member of our experienced team. You have nothing to lose by reaching out to us and potentially everything to gain.