Posted by Leonid Kishinevsky on 01/18/2023

What Should I Do if I’m Hit by a Drunk Driver?

What Should I Do if I’m Hit by a Drunk Driver?

Thousands of people are injured or killed by drunk drivers every year. Despite federal and state outreach and education programs, drivers still take to our roads and highways after drinking or taking drugs, and cause catastrophic accidents.

If you or a loved one are involved in an accident with a drunk driver, it’s important to take some steps to protect both your physical safety and your right to file an injury claim against the at-fault driver. It’s also important to know what NOT to do.

If you’re hit by a drunk driver

Above all, your first priority should be seeking medical attention. Having said that, remember these valuable steps to protect your legal rights:

  • Call the authorities. If someone hasn’t done so already, call the police or 911. They will send an officer and paramedics to secure the accident scene and handle any injuries. The police officer will also take a formal report, which you will need for your insurance company and attorney.
  • Gather contact information and evidence. Although the police report will have the information of the other drivers involved in the accident, try to get that contact info anyway. Additionally, get the name and phone numbers of any witnesses or passengers involved. Their accounts may be helpful later. If you are able to do so, take photographs and/or videos on your phone to capture evidence of the accident scene, the vehicle damage, resulting injuries, and evidence of intoxication by the other driver.
  • Get medical attention. See a doctor immediately. You’ll need a record of your medical treatment and it’s important you start that right away, to show the insurance company you did everything you could to treat your injuries. Even if you don’t feel injured, see a doctor anyway. Many injuries don’t show symptoms right away, like internal trauma and brain injuries.
  • Document, document, document. The more evidence and documentation you have, the better. Save everything related to your accident, including insurance correspondence, medical bills, auto repair bills or estimates, and pay stubs (to demonstrate wage loss). Your attorney can use this to demonstrate all the ways your injuries are affecting your life. Consider keeping a journal of your pain levels, as well as how you’re feeling mentally each day.
  • Call a personal injury attorney. After you’re injured in a crash with a drunk driver, a Houston car accident attorney can help you secure compensation for your losses and damages. Your lawyer works with insurance adjusters, advocating and negotiating on your behalf. And, when the insurance company refuses to cooperate, an attorney will represent you in court and fight for the compensation to which you are entitled.

For the strongest claim possible, however, you should also be aware of the things that could weaken your case – or even have it thrown out altogether.

What NOT to do if you’re hit by a drunk driver

Keeping the above steps in mind, consider these common mistakes that could put your claim in jeopardy:

  • Waiting to seek medical attention. With all the chaos of a car crash, especially with a drunk driver involved, seeing a doctor may be the last thing on your mind. However, the sooner you seek medical attention for your injuries – no matter how minor they may seem at the time – the stronger your case. Failing to see a doctor gives the insurance company ammunition to claim your injuries are not that serious.
  • In the same vein, failing to follow doctor’s orders can also weaken your case. Ensure you attend all follow-up visits, take your medication, and see any specialists your doctor recommends. Ignoring medical advice can put both your health and your personal injury case in danger.
  • Giving the insurance company a recorded statement. You do need to speak with an insurance company representative before talking to an attorney, and it is highly recommended that you speak to an attorney first and let them handle dealing with the insurance company instead of trying to handle this yourself. Insurance companies and their employees are working to try to minimize the amount they may have to pay out on your claim, and one of the ways they commonly do this is by obtaining lengthy recorded statements where they will attempt to trick you to say something that may diminish the value of your claim.
  • Posting about the accident on social media. Although you may be upset and want to discuss what happened to you on social media, avoid the temptation. Keep all details of the accident private and do not share those details with anyone unless it is necessary to do so. Anything you post online, even if it seems neutral, could be used against you later. Remember – this includes photos of you enjoying activities or working when you claimed you were seriously injured. In general, it is also recommended to set your social media to “private” as insurance companies now routinely perform social media searches of persons making a claim to see if there was something posted that the insurance company can use to diminish the value of the claim.

It's also important to remember that, in a drunk driving injury case, a criminal conviction will not provide compensation for your injuries, property damage, or the tragic loss of a loved one. This is where the civil justice system comes in, along with a personal injury attorney.

The Kishinevsky Law Firm focuses on personal injury and product liability litigation, serving clients and families throughout the Houston area.

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