The dangers drivers and other motorists face from drinking and driving have been a highly talked about topic. Unfortunately, individuals who are under the influence of alcohol still get behind the wheel and drive, which continues to raise the drunk driving rates in the United States. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) states that 30 individuals nationwide are killed in drunk driving accidents each day. Drunk driving is one of the leading causes of accidents and it is estimated that 1 in 3 individuals are at risk of being in a drunk driving accident at some point in their life. Since the risk of being involved in a drunk driving accident is high, it is important to know what you should do if a drunk driver ever injures you. If you are ever injured in a drunk driving accident, an experienced Personal Injury Attorney in Pennsylvania can help.
What to do After Being Injured By A Drunk Driver
Contact Law Enforcement
The first thing you should do after being involved in a drunk driving accident is to contact your local law enforcement. Sometimes, a drunk driver will try to talk to the victim and just exchange insurance information so they can avoid legal actions. By contacting law enforcement, they can help in various aspects at the scene of the accident. Law enforcement can direct traffic, so no further accidents are caused. They can also contact emergency personnel if needed.
Being in an accident with a drunk driver can cause dangerous situations. If the driver at fault is acting in a threatening manner, law enforcement can quickly calm the scene and ensure all parties involved are safely removed from the situation. Law enforcement can also investigate and document how the accident occurred and determine who was at fault. This documentation can help you in your lawsuit case.
In the case where injury or death has occurred, law enforcement will investigate thoroughly by measuring. Law enforcement will measure skid marks, take pictures, identify the point of contact, and determine which path each vehicle was traveling before and after the accident. All evidence is put together and is important in any lawsuit.
Law enforcement is trained to determine who the at-fault driver was according to drugs or alcohol. They legally perform field sobriety tests, along with breathalyzer tests and if needed, take the individual into custody for urine or blood tests. If this evidence is not gathered, it can be hard to prove in court who was at fault, and no DUI charges can be filed.
Lastly, insurance companies require all drivers to contact law enforcement in case an accident occurs. In some cases, insurance companies will not cover specific claims unless the insured driver contacts a law enforcement promptly, and a police report has been filed.
Remain at the Scene of the Accident
By law, it is required that all parties remain at the scene of the accident. That is, unless your safety is jeopardized. Once an accident occurs, each driver is required to do the following:
– Give their name and address along with their vehicle registration
– Provide their driver’s license
– Aid any injured individual including contacting law enforcement and ambulance
– Make an effort to reach and assist emergency personnel if someone is dead, unconscious or not able to communicate
Take Photos or Videos
Photos and video evidence can be helpful tools in any civil case. Intoxicated individuals may try to deny they were intoxicated. However, a video or photo can prove otherwise. Also, photos can provide proof of the accident and any trauma that was experienced during the accident. If you can, it is best to begin taking pictures or videos as soon as possible, and before any vehicles are moved, that could change the scene of the accident.
When taking pictures and videos, try to get the following:
– All vehicles involved
– Entire accident site including weather conditions
– Position of the vehicles after the accident
– Traffics signs
– Skid marks
– Intersection layout and roadways
– Curbs or land that any vehicle encountered
– Construction areas
– Traffic signals if malfunctioning
– The offending driver, witnesses, law enforcement, and emergency response team
If you are unable to capture photos of the vehicles after the accident, it is important to do so shortly after the accident for legal purposes. Also, revisit the accident site to take better photos or videos of the scene in daylight and at different angles.
Be sure to gain copies of any photographs that others may have taken. Law enforcement often takes their own photos and videos at the scene for their investigation along with their dashcam footage. Dashcams can capture a video of the scene along with audio recordings for statements from all involved in the accident. To obtain these photos and footage, you must request these from the law enforcement officer who responded to the accident.
Obtain Information from Witnesses
Typically, after a car accident, individuals rely on law enforcement to obtain information from the witnesses at the accident. However, if there were no fatalities or injuries, officers may not collect this information. If you can, obtain the following information from the witnesses:
– Full Name
– Home Address
– Date of Birth
– Home and Work Phone Numbers
– Driver’s License Number
– Vehicle Description including the year, make, model, and color
– License Number and State
– Vehicle Identification Number
– Auto Insurance Information and Policy Number
– Insurance Agent Name, Address and Phone Number
Follow-Up with Doctor
After an auto accident, individuals typically are seen in the emergency room or urgent care facility. While it is important to be checked out at the emergency room or an urgent care facility, it is important to follow up with a doctor thereafter. Often times the ER or urgent care is only looking for life-threatening injuries, broken bones, or serious internal injuries – they will often do an x-ray, maybe a CAT scan and send you on your way. That absolutely does not mean you do not have an injury as a result of the accident, in fact pain often manifests a day after the accident. Many times an MRI and/or an nerve study called an EMG/NCV test is needed to better see your injuries sustained. You should follow-up with your primary care doctor or some other medical provider to insure your injury claim is being documented. Quickly following up with a medical professional, doctor, chiropractor or other can help prevent any delays in your injury claim.
Work with the District Attorney
It is important to stay informed with any charges that are being filed by the District Attorney (“DA”). While the DA’s office does not represent you for a potential civil personal injury case your cooperation may be needed for them to pursue appropriate criminal charges against the DUI driver. In the case, the District Attorney calls you to court, be sure to speak with your personal injury lawyer to make sure you are doing what is needed to help with your case.
DUI can give you Full Tort Rights in Pennsylvania
In Pennsylvania if you are involved in an auto accident with a driver who is convicted of DUI or enters a diversionary program such as ARD, you will be deemed to have full tort rights regardless of whether you elected limited tort. A DUI driver is one of the enumerated exceptions to limited tort in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and can make your personal injury case result much better. Full tort rights allow you to recover for all causally related pain and suffering along with your economic damages.
Hire an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney in Philadelphia
When looking for an injury attorney, be sure to do extensive research before hiring an attorney. While most people ask friends and family for referrals, be sure to do your own research. When looking into attorneys, look at their case results, and review how they treated their previous clients – those two key pieces of information will allow you to make the right choice of Pennsylvania auto accident attorney’s when injured by a DUI driver.