What Should I Do If I am Hit by a Drunk Driver?
If you are hit by a drunk driver then the first thing you need to do is seek medical attention. You should always immediately call 911 or law enforcement to report the incident, and if you believe the other driver is under the influence then you need to tell the law enforcement officers when they arrive on scene. Law enforcement officers are trained to detect whether or not someone is under the influence of alcohol, and if you tell them that you believe the other driver is under the influence then they will conduct their own investigation. They will also document their findings in their police report, so make sure you notify the officer on scene after you received medical attention.
The next thing you should do is contact a lawyer. Like every car accident case, you will benefit from having a lawyer in a car accident case involving a drunk driver. There is a good chance you will be contacted by the at fault driver’s insurance company shortly after the accident. Oftentimes, the other driver’s insurance company will try to get you to settle the case, or they will try to establish that the crash was not a result of their driver being under the influence of alcohol. It’s extremely important that you speak to a lawyer before having this conversation because you could seriously limit the amount of your financial recovery by saying the wrong thing. For instance, if you told the other drivers insurance company that you “don’t feel that bad” and you are willing to settle the case for $5,000.00 if they fix your car, then you may never learn that the insurance company was really willing to pay you $50,000.00. If you don’t have the experience to value a case or the understanding of legal process surrounding a car accident, then you can end up hurting your case more than helping.
Also, your lawyer will investigate the claim to determine whether or not other parties are liable under a dram shop claim. In some situations, if you are hit by an intoxicated person who is coming from a bar or nightclub then you will be able to move forward with a dram shop claim. Dram shop laws impose a duty on a bar or nightclub to monitor the patrons that they are serving alcohol. Dram shop laws also make it unlawful for the bar or nightclub to serve a patron that is already intoxicated. A dram shop claim is based on the premise that the bar or nightclub provided too much alcohol to the person that hit you. While dram shop claims are more rare and harder to prove than a regular car accident claim (you will be required to prove that the person who hit you was actually intoxicated and that they became intoxicated at the bar or nightclub in question), it is important that you discuss your case with an attorney that understands the different claims available to you.
The next thing you should do after speaking to your lawyer is start your follow up treatment. Receiving medical treatment is oftentimes the most important step in healing and getting back to some sort of normalcy after sustaining an injury in a car accident, so make sure you to receive treatment as recommended and follow up with your chiropractor, physical therapist or orthopedic specialist as recommended. It’s also important to continue receiving treatment if you still have symptoms because insurance companies oftentimes look at a lack of treatment as an indication that you are no longer injured.
Your attorney will begin requesting copies of your medical records and billing while you are receiving treatment for your injuries. The length of your treatment will depend on the extent of your injuries and the number of specialists that you are referred to, but the treatment phase usually last around 3 months to 5 months. Once your condition has stabilized enough for your doctors and specialists to draft final reports detailing their opinions regarding your injuries and your future medical care, they will send the final report to your attorney and your attorney will draft a demand for settlement or move forward with a lawsuit.
Lastly, stay involved in the criminal case. Your attorney can help you with this, but you should stay in contact with the prosecutor who is prosecuting the DUI case arising out of the person that hit you. Oftentimes, you will have a say in how the DUI case is resolved, and you don’t want to agree to allow the person to plea to a lesser charge because that could impact your personal injury claim. At the Law Office of Matthew C. Williams, we represent our clients as victims in criminal cases and we advocate to the prosecutor on their behalf, but if your lawyer won’t do it for you then you need to do it yourself. It’s that important.
If you have been involved in an accident or hit by a drunk driver then you should contact The Law Office of Matthew C. Williams to determine how to move forward with your case. The other driver’s insurance company will oftentimes claim you are at fault, argue you were intoxicated yourself, or they will deny any liability until you are willing to settle for less than your case is worth, but with the help of Attorney Williams, you will have the same resources, financial backing and experience that the insurance companies have, and you will never feel alone in your fight for justice.
The Law Office of Matthew C. Williams focuses primarily on car accident cases and we take pride in having a personal relationship with our clients. Attorney Williams treats his clients like family because he knows what they are dealing with is always more than just a case, and he refuses to let drunk drivers, defense lawyers, or big insurance stand in the way of getting his clients what they deserve. He obtains results for his clients and he’ll do the same for you, so give The Law Office of Matthew C. Williams a call to find out what your case is worth today.