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What to Do if You’re Hit by a Drunk Driver

Alcohol reduces the function of the brain. It impairs one’s thinking, decision making, and muscle coordination. Safely operating a vehicle requires quick thinking, sound reasoning, and solid decision making. It’s unwise to drive while under the influence, but what if you are sober and a drunk driver injures you? Thankfully, there is recourse in the form of a personal injury lawsuit.

Accidents involving alcohol often result in higher compensation for innocent victims. To have a valid personal injury claim, you must have suffered an injury to your body. The damage must also be someone else’s fault. However, it’s not always necessary to have a physical injury to bring a personal injury lawsuit. Lawsuits may be based on a variety of nonphysical losses and harms as well. Here’s what to do if you find yourself in an accident with someone who appears to be intoxicated.

First Steps To Take If You Were Hit By A Drunk Driver

Call the police and have the accident properly documented. The documentation is crucial for filing an insurance claim and lawsuit against the person who caused the crash. It is your civic duty to call the police so that the intoxicated person doesn’t get back behind the wheel. A police accident report is also a critical piece of evidence when it comes to seeking compensation for the damages and injuries that were sustained in the accident.

Collect as much information as possible from the scene of the accident. Take photographs of the accident scene, collect the at-fault driver’s insurance information and contact information, record potential witness accounts, and photograph any visible injuries you and your passengers have suffered.

Cooperate with police questioning; they will want to know exactly what happened and how the accident took place. It is of the utmost importance to provide an accurate account of what happened. Do not exaggerate, elaborate, or lie about what took place. Leave out any speculation and only offer facts to questions that you are asked. Lastly, if the police asked if you are injured, do not say no. You may be experiencing shock and adrenaline, which momentarily dulls your pain. It is okay to tell the police that you are unsure whether you are hurt or not.

Seek medical treatment immediately after leaving the scene of the accident or at the scene itself. Never refuse medical treatment because some injuries take hours or days to present themselves. Just because you do not immediately feel pain does not mean you are unharmed. A medical professional will be able to diagnose any injuries and treat them before they turn into a chronic pain condition. Seeking medical treatment is also another piece of critical evidence. A medical expert will be able to accurately document your status, which will make it easier to obtain the maximum amount of compensation during the settlement process.

Call Kelly & West for legal advice to seek the maximum amount of compensation for any injuries and damages that were caused as a result of the accident. Hiring a lawyer that only takes personal injury cases is crucial to get you the compensation you deserve. Your attorney at Kelly & West will conduct a thorough investigation using all the evidence available to be successful in your settlement case.

Fast Facts

  • BAC is measured with a breathalyzer, a device that measures the amount of alcohol in a driver’s breath, or by a blood test.
  • 29 people in the United States die in alcohol-impaired vehicle crashes every single day.
  • Drunk-driving crashes claim more than 10,000 lives per year.
  • 28% of all traffic-related deaths in the United States are a result of drunk drivers.
  • In 2010, the most recent year for which cost data is available, drunk-driving deaths and damages contributed to a cost of $44B per year.
  • In 2016, more than 1 million drivers were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics.

What to Know: The Effects of Alcohol

Alcohol is absorbed directly through the walls of one’s stomach and small intestine. From there, it passes into the bloodstream where it accumulates until the liver metabolizes it. Alcohol wreaks havoc on the central nervous system resulting in poor decision making and delayed reactions.

Alcohol is measured by weight in relation to the volume of blood, known as Blood Alchohol Concentration, or BAC. While the illegal BAC is .08 grams of alcohol per deciliter of blood, even a small amount can severely affect one’s driving. In fact, according to the Nation Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2016 alone, there were 2,017 people killed in alcohol-related crashes where drivers had lower alcohol levels ranging from .01 to .07 g/dL.

As one’s BAC increases, so does impairment. With a couple of drinks, a drunk driver will experience a decline in visual function and the ability to multitask. With another drink, reduced coordination, ability to track moving objects, and the ability to respond to emergency situations also occur. With yet another drink, concentration strays, memory loss occurs, speed control is reduced and the ability to maintain lane position and brake appropriately occur. The compounding effects of alcohol result in the complete inability to operate a vehicle responsibly.

Consequences For Impaired Drivers

Enforcement of driving while impaired has been a significant factor in reducing alcohol-impaired-driving deaths since the 1980s. If caught, drunk drivers may be charged with anything from a misdemeanor to a felony. If you are involved in an accident with an intoxicated driver, no matter how minor, it is important to report it. You are fulfilling your duty as a member of society by ensuring intoxicated drivers are penalized and removed from the road which hopefully results in fewer accidents in the future.

Possible Benefits Awarded For A Personal Injury Settlement

Hiring a personal injury lawyer helps ensure you get the maximum benefits of a personal injury settlement. Compensation for personal injury may include compensation for the following:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Pain and suffering
  • Death benefits

If you have been involved in an accident involving an intoxicated driver, you need experienced legal representation. At Kelly & West, we have over 30 years of experience representing clients in personal injury lawsuits and traffic accidents that involve drivers who are under the influence. You deserve to be compensated for your injuries, contact us.

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