Being hit by a drunk driver can be an upsetting and confusing time. Significant injuries and property damage can occur in any car accident, and the emotional and financial strain after an accident can be immense. If you suspect that the driver who caused the accident was drunk, there are steps to take in order to ensure that your legal rights will be protected.
In any accident, the first thing to do is call the police to the scene. If someone is injured, also make sure that an ambulance is called. When contacting the police, let them know if you suspect that the other driver is under the influence of alcohol. When the police arrive, they will issue a field sobriety test and breathalyze the driver to investigate if they are in fact drunk. Be sure to get the officer’s information as well, in case you will need to build a case against the drunk driver.
The next step will be to contact the insurance provider of the drunk driver, if they have one. The insurance provider will likely offer you a settlement, especially if the insured is convicted of driving under the influence. However, it is absolutely crucial to go over any settlement offered by an insurance company with an attorney before accepting. Bear in mind that insurance companies are in the business of offering you as little in a settlement as they can get away with, and without an attorney reviewing your case you may receive less than you deserve.
The drunk driver will most likely be criminally charged with driving under the influence, and if convicted can be required to pay the victims of the accident compensation for damage inflicted on the cars and sometimes on the victims themselves. In most cases, it will still be a good idea to file a separate personal injury claim against the driver through a civil lawsuit. It is important to note that you cannot seek compensation for damages that have already been settled in a criminal conviction.