You may be one of the many responsible drivers that avoids operating any vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. However, not everyone is, and because you cannot control other drivers’ decisions, there is always the risk that one day you may be involved in a DUI accident. If you find yourself injured in an accident of this type, here are eight things you should know and be ready for.
1. Think Safety First
The first moments after an accident are extremely chaotic. Your first move should be to assess whether you or your passengers are seriously injured. Call 911 to report the accident and request an ambulance if necessary. If you can safely move, it is a good idea to exit the car and get out of the way of traffic to prevent further injury.
2. Remain at the Scene of the Accident
If you are involved in an accident, you should remain at the scene until the police arrive to take a report. Check on the other driver to see if they are injured. Do not argue or confront the alcohol-impaired driver. Do not apologize or admit any fault. Your only interaction with the other party - other than ensuring that they are okay - should be to get their contact information, including:
- Name and home address
- Home, work, and cell numbers
- Driver’s license number
- Name of their auto insurer and policy number
- Description of their vehicle
- License plate number
If there are any witnesses to the accident, request their contact information promptly in case they leave before the police arrive. This is all valuable information that could be used in your personal injury case.
3. Document the Accident
If you can, start taking photos or videotapes of the crash scene and damaged vehicles right away with your cell phone. You should do this before any vehicles have moved. These photos can be used as evidence if needed in a DUI court case. Your insurance company and your attorney will both need this information if you choose to file a claim against the other driver.
4. Cooperate with the Police
When the police arrive, they will assess the situation, call for an ambulance if needed, and help arrange any towing of the vehicles. They will begin to investigate the accident and gather evidence by speaking to you, the other driver, any passengers, and witnesses. When speaking to the police, stick to the facts and do not admit any fault.
5. The Police will Determine if Drivers Are Impaired
The police are needed to determine whether a DUI caused the accident. Police officers are legally authorized to administer field sobriety tests, perform breathalyzer tests, or take a suspected DUI driver for a blood or urine test. Unless the police gather evidence that the other driver was under the influence, the likelihood of proving that a DUI occurred is slim.
6. Contact Your Insurance Company as Soon as Possible
If you are injured in a DUI crash or your car is damaged, you need to report it to your insurance company as soon as possible. You will receive a claim number to provide to any doctors or hospitals that treat you for your injuries. Your insurance company will usually ask you for the other driver’s name and their insurance information. They will also ask about what happened with the accident. Be honest and objective, and do not admit fault. When the accident report becomes available from the police department, you will need to provide your insurance company with a copy.
7. Do Not Put Off Seeking Medical Treatment for Injuries
Never resign to tough out an injury thinking that the pain will go away. Seek prompt medical attention if you suspect you have been hurt. Make it a priority to tell every doctor or medical facility you are evaluated by that your injuries are caused by a motor vehicle accident. If you need to go to court over your injuries against a DUI defendant, your medical records will need to coincide with the injuries you are claiming compensation for.
8. Speak to an Attorney
Insurance companies are not your friend. They may try to convince you to settle your case quickly to save them money. However, if you are injured in a DUI accident, you could have serious injuries, expensive medical bills, and lost wages. You are entitled to be represented by a personal injury attorney to seek the compensation you deserve. Contact Steven A. Bagen & Associates for a free evaluation of your case.