What If I’m Hit By a Drunk Driver?
By Chris Dixon
In 2016, 10,497 people died in crashes involving alcohol. While some of these accidents were single-car accidents, others involved pedestrians and other drivers on the road. Alcohol impaired driving can cause serious damage so if you are hit by a drunk driver, it is important to know your rights and consult with a local drunk driving lawyer about what needs to be done to recover damages for your injuries.
Take Action Immediately After the Accident
Time is of the essence if you are hit by a drunk driver. The single most important piece of evidence that needs to be taken from the scene of the accident is proof that the other driver is intoxicated. To prove this, it is crucial to immediately call 911 and have police come to the scene of the accident. They will attempt to perform a breath test on the drunk driver and if they are over the legal limit it will be recorded in an official police report.
If the driver refuses to blow, other evidence of their intoxication while driving can be used. This includes the officer’s observations while speaking to them (slurring, smell and other visible signs), dash cam recordings of them slurring or stumbling, and the Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST) which includes the ‘walk-and-turn’, one-leg stand and horizontal gaze test. A police report can then be filed which will include details about what happened in the accident and what/who the police believe caused it. Gathering supporting evidence is essential when creating a well-rounded case against the negligent drunk driver with your personal injury lawyer.
- Collecting contact information from the drunk driver, including their name, phone number, address and insurance information is required after being hit in an accident.
- Taking pictures of the scene of the accident is an easy and quick way of showing what happened in an accident. Include photos of damage that is done to vehicles, personal injuries you might have from the accident, and the drunk driver’s license plate.
- Witnesses are a persuasive source of information for proving what happened in an accident. They are an unbiased third party that can give police their opinion on what happened in the drunk driving accident they witnessed and give police a better idea of what and who caused the accident.
- If you are hit by a drunk driver and are injured, you must seek medical attention. Not only so you can receive treatment for your injuries, but so that an official medical report can be filed by your doctor detailing your injuries and the treatment required for them. A medical report is a powerful piece of evidence that can prove that the drunk driver is at-fault for the accident and that you could be eligible for damages because of your injuries.
Damages that can be Recovered if You are Hit by a Drunk Driver
Consulting with a lawyer about the injuries you got from a car accident will give you an idea of what type of damages you are entitled to. Damages are split up into two categories, economic (vehicle damages, damage done to property inside of the vehicle, personal injuries, lost wages, etc.) and non-economic (mental and emotional distress, loss of affection, treatment expenses for pain and suffering). Depending on your state’s laws, there may or may not be a limit on how much you can receive in non-economic damages after being hit by a drunk driver. Some states put a cap on the amount, while others only place a limit on how long a person has to file a claim for the accident. This amount of time is determined by a state’s Statute of Limitations and can range from 1 year to 6 years for personal injury depending on the state’s law.
Is a Drunk Driver Always At-Fault for the Accident?
If you were hit by a drunk driver, it needs to be proved that the drunk driver’s intoxication is what caused the accident. It cannot be assumed that just because the driver was drunk that they were the sole cause of the accident. For example, in a rear-end accident where the driver in the back is sober and the driver that was struck is intoxicated, the blame for the accident cannot be placed on the drunk driver who was struck. However, if a drunk driver runs a red light and hits a car or sideswipes another car while intoxicated the blame would fall on them for being at-fault for the accident.
How Can a Lawyer Prove that the Drunk Driver is At-Fault in an Accident?
If you are struck by a drunk driver, a personal injury lawyer can prove that the drunk driver is at-fault if you act quickly and gather evidence that proves what happened in the accident. Without evidence, your lawyer can still help you with your claim against a drunk driver but it will lack powerful evidence that can prove who caused the accident and what happened. The court will have to take the negligent party’s word against your word without evidence proving either side’s argument, which can end badly in your favor if they are persuaded by the drunk driver’s argument. So the best advice for proving a drunk driver is at-fault for an accident is to document the scene of the accident and gather information immediately after an accident happens. Then, take that evidence to a lawyer who can use it to prove that the other party is at-fault and that you are entitled to damages for your injuries. If you’ve been hit by a drunk driver, contact the Dixon Injury Firm to see what their personal injury lawyers can do for your drunk driving accident claim.