About 28 people a day are killed in the United States in vehicle crashes
involving a drunk driver, and every 90 seconds a person is injured in a
drunk driving accident. Each day, about 300,000 people drive under the influence. While there
is, unfortunately, nothing that you can do to change the decisions of
a negligent driver, what you can do is ensure that you yourself are a
responsible and law-abiding driver. You can also educate yourself on what
to do if you are ever involved in an accident so that you can ensure that
your rights are protected.
If you’re unlucky enough to be involved in a car crash with an intoxicated
driver, follow these steps:
Don’t leave the scene of the accident. If you’re involved in an accident, particularly if people were injured
or property was damaged, you should wait for the police to arrive. Even
if you weren’t the cause of the accident, leaving the scene could
lead to a multitude of different legal hassles.
Try to move your vehicle off of the road. To prevent further damage to your car, try to get it out of the way of
traffic. If you are prepared, you can also set up road flares or keep
your flashers on to make yourself more visible to other drivers. Protecting
the scene will be important to your auto insurance and the insurance company
of the other driver.
Call 911. Calling law enforcement and emergency vehicles is especially important
if you were involved in an accident with a drunk or drugged driver. Not
only will the intoxicated driver be arrested and processed by law enforcement,
but this process will ensure he or she will not get back into the car
and hit someone else. Also, if the drunk driver gets aggressive, a police
officer can intervene on your behalf and protect you from harm. If you
fear for your safety, stay in your locked car until the police arrive.
Additionally, emergency vehicles can arrive to tend to any injured individuals
and provide testimony regarding harm sustained in the accident.
Tell the police what happened. An investigating officer will ask you how the incident occurred. You should
inform them exactly what happened to the best of your ability, including
if you noticed any dangerous driving prior to the crash or smelled alcohol
on the breath of the other driver if you spoke to him or her. Speculation
won’t help in this case. Make sure you inform them of all the facts.
If they ask you if you are injured, say that you’re unsure. Injuries
from car accidents can often manifest later, particularly after the shock
and adrenaline have worn off. This investigator will then write your testimony
into a crash report, which your insurance company can use to collect from
the drunk driver’s insurance policy. They will file this report
with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) if the accident involves a
death, injury, or total property damage exceeding $1,500.
Take pictures. If you have a camera or camera phone in your car, take pictures of any
visible damage to your vehicle and to the drunk driver’s car. Also,
take pictures of any visible injuries you or any passengers sustained
during the accident. If you can’t do so while the police are investigating,
do so as soon as possible after the investigation is over.
See a doctor. You may not feel the results of the accident until days later, but you
might experience pain as a result. Seeing a doctor directly after the
collision might be necessary, particularly if you struck your head. Internal
bleeding is hard to identify if you’re not a medical professional.
A doctor visit can also be used by an attorney or an insurance company
to prove your personal injury claim is valid.
Report the accident. As soon as you can, inform your auto insurance company about the crash.
Typically, a policy will require immediate reporting and full cooperation.
Your insurance may include medical benefits as part of your coverage.
If you went to the doctor after your accident, you could submit your medical
bills to your insurance if they cover health care. Your insurance company
will likely charge the drunk driver’s insurance company for the
cost as he or she is the at-fault driver.
Keep all documents. Being well organized will be extremely helpful if you make an insurance
claim or want to seek a personal injury suit against the drunk driver.
All accident-related documents should be kept safely together, including
a claim number, the claim’s adjuster who is handling the claim,
and the information of all people related to expenses.
Hire an attorney. One of the best things you could do is hire an experienced car accident
attorney to represent you, guide you through the personal injury claims
process, and fight for maximum compensation on your behalf.
The skilled Virginia car accident attorneys at The Barrera Law Firm have
30 years of experience representing people in many types of personal injury
cases. Our Alexandria injury attorneys are easily accessible and can speak
with you directly about the status of your case. We can also assist you
with Virginia’s car accident negligence laws, which can make it
difficult to recover compensation after a crash.
Ready to take action?
Contact us at (571) 290-2390 or fill out our
online form to request a case evaluation.