Things You Need to Do After an Accident with a Driver Who was Under the Influence
It is estimated that over 10 thousand Americans are killed by drivers under the influence of any substance every year, and tens of thousands more are injured. Each of those injuries leads to billions in medical costs and lost wages annually, with lost wages consuming the larger portion of the financial damages of drunk driving. An accident victim with back pain could be out of work for life after a crash with someone that is under the influence.
The costs of these accidents to the victims also extend to pain and suffering, mental anguish, and property losses. When you have been in an accident with a driver under the influence, you have a right to have those costs and damages recovered. An accident with someone under the influence could also lead to criminal charges. These accidents have a greater chance of becoming a significant legal problem than the average car accident. That is why it is so important to handle all post-crash details as clearly and accurately as possible. Use this list of things to do after an accident with a driver who was under the influence.
Stay at the Scene
Immediately after any car accident, stay at the scene of the accident for as long as needed. If there is any injury at all to anyone involved, or the damages are over $1,000, you must call the police and file a police report. Ask for cannabinoid tests at the scene if you suspect the need for it, and know your test will come back negative. Do your best to stay calm during the aftermath, and call for an ambulance if there are injuries.
While you are waiting for police if you can, document as much of the accident scene as you can. Take pictures of all the property damage and every element of the roads that you can. You want to document the scene as much as possible or have someone else do that if you can. In this case, there is no such thing as too many photos. Take as many as you can.
Get a list of the people involved, including the drivers, and any passengers in any and all vehicles. Get the names as accurately as possible, if you can, and it is safe to do so. When you are filing a police report, you may get much of that information later, but you will still want it now for legal purposes.
The kinds of things you want to document in addition to these elements are the weather of that day, the traffic conditions, the actual roads and their condition at the time of the accident, where the traffic signs are, time of day, any obstructions in traffic such as a sign or construction work, and evidence of anything else that could have contributed to the crash.
It is also a good idea to get photos of any and all of your medical injuries, and those from another party, before you can seek medical attention. Again, after the fact, an insurance company or lawyer can and might say that the injury doesn’t sound that bad on paper. Have the evidence ready for them to show them what really happened.
Insurance companies and drunk driving lawyers will try to say what they can to avoid paying the largest settlement possible. Have everything you need to refute their claims before they have a chance to make them. When you are finished documenting and filing a police report, seek medical attention as soon as possible, even in the event that it feels like nothing is wrong with you.
See a Doctor
After a car accident doctors office appointments could consume a large part of your life. Sadly for many, they will consume the rest of their lives. Back pain is one of the most common and most debilitating car accident injuries. A chiropractor for back pain can help and could become one of the names on your list of post-accident care. You may also need neck pain treatment, nerve damage treatment, head trauma treatment, in addition to treatment for lacerations (wounds), abrasions (scrapes), and fractures (broken bones).
A car accident doctor’s office visit would be considered mandatory by any lawyer that would represent you after the accident. This is the case if for no other reason than to rule medical injuries and conditions out. Even if you feel like you haven’t suffered an injury at all, seek a doctor as soon as possible.
When you have been in a car accident, the body naturally produces the hormone of adrenaline. It is the body’s way of protecting us from feeling pain during a crisis or trauma. It allows you to keep going when you are experiencing a major event in life. You may not feel pain today. You might feel pain tomorrow, and be diagnosed with an injury for life tomorrow.
For insurance purposes and for legal purposes, see a car accident doctor as soon as you can after a crash, preferably the same day. For your own health, it is very important to have some tests run to make sure the injuries aren’t worse than they seem at first.
Don’t Get Your Car Fixed Yet
Auto body repairs after an accident where someone was driving under the influence are almost inevitable. You will probably need an accident towing service immediately after the accident and an auto repair garage to take your car to. Have your car towed, but don’t make any repair decisions until you have spoken to your insurance company.
Most states in the United States are at-fault states, but some are no-fault states. Even in an at-fault state, it is not always immediately clear who will pay for the car accident. The other party’s insurance company may wind up paying for everything, but you won’t know that until you begin talking to lawyers and insurance companies as well.
You do need to contact your insurance company as soon as you can. While every state is different in timelines, your insurance company typically has 15 days after an accident to respond and begin the claims process. It is very possible that your insurance company will recommend an auto repair shop for you. It is not always legally required for you to accept this recommendation. However, it is always easier for the claims process down the road if you do. Check your state regulations on this if you are confused.
There are many benefits to going with the car insurance company’s repair shop, even if you have a personal preference. You will have a mechanic that is certified and has a good reputation with insurance companies. Claims and payouts will be much easier and more streamlined with an insurance company’s recommended choice. Ask the mechanic what the payout process is before you select the auto repair shop after an accident.
Everyone that seeks a mechanic for anything is always looking for the most honest and most affordable. Your insurance company is doing the same. Keep that in mind when they place their recommendations. It might be easier on every level to deal with an insurance company’s recommended auto repair and auto body repair shop after an accident.
You don’t want to wait days for this call, just for your own peace of mind. You can call the insurance company at the scene if you want to and it is safe for you to do that. Never admit liability or culpability when you are calling the insurance company. Simply call and start the claim process.
The Insurance Company
Insurance companies can be tricky when you are dealing with the aftermath of a car accident, particularly one where the other driver was under the influence. Your insurance company might hear that and hope that the weight of the claim falls on the other party, and that may well happen. However, until that does happen, all parties are working in their own interests first, including you.
Start the claim process with your insurance company, keeping in mind that their goal is to pay the lowest payout possible. They will meet their legal obligations according to your insurance policy, but they won’t want to pay you for mental anguish or pain and suffering. If you have injuries that could cause problems for years or for life, know you will lose work because of this accident, and have mental anguish, you could finish this trauma with a settlement that far outweighs the caps on your own insurance policy.
That typically happens after getting a personal injury lawyer or car accident lawyer involved to help you fight for the compensation deserved after an accident. The goal here is to understand that your insurance company will likely not want you to get lawyers involved if you don’t have to. Tell them if you have one as soon as you do in the claims process, but never say if you do not have one.
You never ever want to accept an early settlement in a car accident case, even from your insurance company. Do not accept a settlement from the other party, from the other party’s insurance company, or from yours, until you have sought advice on it. You may well end up getting that amount, but there is always the chance you could get more if your damages are high enough. A free consultation with a personal injury lawyer is an excellent idea after an accident, and most will offer a first-time free consultation.
Do not accept money after a car accident with someone that has been drinking and driving unless you have been advised by a professional to do so.
Call a Lawyer
A call to a personal injury lawyer right after the accident is common, particularly where there are injuries involved. If you have a driver who was under the influence at the time of the accident, getting your own lawyer is beneficial. You may be entitled to more. The goal of many personal injury lawyers is to get a sum for you that will compensate you for your lost quality of life. If this is someone else’s fault, a good lawyer will want you to have your life back, or compensated, at the value and state that it was prior to the accident.
You just aren’t going to get this kind of compensation from an insurance company. There is nothing bad about insurance companies. But all they can pay you for is what is covered by the policy, medical costs, therapy down the road, and anything else included on your terms and conditions. They can’t pay you for being too traumatized to drive ever again, and with 25 to 30 drunk driving fatalities on the roads every day, that happens to Americans daily.
Keep a record of every piece of paper, bill, receipt, report, assessment, quote, that you get during this time. Your lawyer will want all of it. Every Band-Aid that you pay for, document it, even if it is just a receipt from the pharmacy. You want to document the transportation that you pay for to get to your appointments and treatments as well.
The notion of a pain journal is also a very common thing recommended by lawyers during the aftermath of a car accident. When you can’t sleep at night when you are too worried to leave the house, when you have any pain whatsoever, put it in a journal. This is good for your mental health and your physical health. You may have pain in the middle of the night and forget to tell your doctor about it the next time you see them. Write everything down. These are frequently used in the civil litigation component of seeking compensation after a car accident.
You may also want to be involved in the criminal proceedings or matters connected to the other driver. You may not be sure if you should even be. A lawyer can help you make these decisions, and even attend hearings for you to get the information that they need so that you won’t be subjected to further trauma by them. Consider calling a lawyer after you’ve been in an accident with a driver under the influence.
Take Care of You After an Accident
The most important component of your life after your accident, after your medical health, is to document everything from your car accident doctor’s appointments to your everyday pain and suffering. This will now be an insurance claim at the minimum and could be a large legal problem. If you were hit and/or injured by someone under the influence, you deserve compensation and deserve the most that you can get. Document everything, and take care of yourself as soon as you can. This time in your life will not last forever. There’s nothing wrong with taking care of you while the legal details work out.