Being in a car accident is traumatic enough, but when the other driver is impaired by alcohol or drugs, the shock of the accident can turn into anger and frustration. When people get behind the wheel irresponsibly and cause injuries, it can feel absolutely devastating to the victims knowing DUI accidents are avoidable.
People who are fortunate enough to survive a DUI accident often suffer catastrophic injuries that change everything for them and their families. From debilitating injuries to the loss of income, when an accident happens and it’s because someone chose to get behind the wheel drunk, the victims are not only allowed to sue the drunk driver who hit them, but also the other parties that may be involved in the DUI.
If you were involved in an accident with an impaired driver, we understand how difficult it can be. Let’s take a look at steps you should take after being involved in an accident with a drunk driver, the compensation available for victims of a DUI accident, and the importance of having a personal injury law firm on your side.
Steps to Take for DUI Accident Victims
Like any other injury car accident, there are steps to take to prepare for a personal injury claim after an accident with a driver under the influence. While your emotions may be high, it’s important to stay calm and follow these steps immediately after the crash.
- Move to Safety and Make Yourself Visible. Many DUI crashes occur between 8 p.m. and 4 a.m. when it is likely dark outside. Other drivers approaching the scene of the accident may not immediately see you, so if you are physically able to, move to a safe place. If you cannot move your vehicle, turn on your flashers and use road flares if you have them.
- Call the Police. In accidents where you suspect the driver is drunk or under the influence of narcotics, call the police. Drunk driving is not just irresponsible, it’s a criminal offense in Pennsylvania. The police can administer a sobriety field test and also obtain the driver’s blood-alcohol level (BAC). The police can be called upon as a witness in a personal injury claim and testify to the driver’s slurred speech, poor balance, bloodshot eyes, the odor of alcohol, and other signs of intoxication.
- Seek Medical Care. If your injuries are severe, you may have no choice but to go to the hospital or have the EMTs on the scene provide medical treatment. Even if you feel okay, or only have a bump or a bruise, you should still let the EMTs examine you, and follow up with your personal physician. Medical documentation is key in filing a lawsuit after an accident with an impaired driver.
- Document the Scene. It’s always important to gather information and document an accident scene, especially drunk driving accidents. Get the other driver’s name and insurance information, the make and model of the other vehicles involved, the location, where the driver was coming from and going to, and any observations related to the driver’s drunkenness. If the other driver admits having a drink before driving, inform the police officers on the scene.
- Track Your Recovery. In many personal injury lawsuits, compensation is awarded based on the financial hardship and pain and suffering of the accident victim. In addition to keeping documentation from your medical provider, also keep a journal of how the accident affects your day-to-day activities, the emotional impact it has on your life, and how your recovery is progressing.
- Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer. Insurance companies are notorious for offering a lowball settlement after a car accident. Before talking to the insurance company, contact a personal injury law firm to explore the best path for you to seek compensation for your injuries.
DUI Accident Victim Compensation
Drunk drivers can be held financially responsible after a car accident that resulted in injuries. The driver and their insurance company may be responsible to cover economic losses such as lost wages and medical care, and non-economic losses such as pain and suffering.
In some cases, you may also be able to sue other parties besides the impaired driver after a DUI accident. Under the Dram Shop Law in Pennsylvania, you can seek compensation from the bar, restaurant, or establishment that served alcohol to the driver if they violated the PA Liquor Code. If the establishment served alcohol to a driver that was visibly intoxicated, underage or a known repeat DUI offender, they can be held liable for injuries after the accident. Lawsuits filed under the Dram Shop Law can be complicated to prove, so it’s important to consult with a personal injury law firm to understand your rights and options.
If you were injured in an accident with a drunk driver, you may receive compensation for:
- Medical Care: Any medical care that is necessary for your recovery qualifies for compensation. This includes transportation to and from medical appointments, copays and doctor’s bills, surgery, hospital stays, prescriptions, medical equipment, physical therapy, and counseling. Keep all of your medical bills to prove how much your medical care costs.
- Lost Wages: Many accident victims will miss work after an injury, sometimes for weeks and even months. This can be a significant loss to a family, and the drunk driver can be held responsible to cover the lost wages. Some victims may not be able to return to work at all if their injuries are life-altering. Keep your pay stubs or request them from your employer to prove your income loss.
- Property Damage. Nearly all DUI accidents result in personal property damages. If your car is damaged or totaled, you may receive compensation to cover the loss. Hang on to repair estimates or other proof that shows the financial impact of the damages to your vehicle.
- Non-Economic Losses: DUI accident injuries not only cause financial losses – they can also result in non-economic losses that are just as traumatic. After a car accident, you may become emotionally distressed or have recurring pain, or even a disability. Non-economic losses such as pain and suffering, mental anguish, disability, and disfigurement are eligible losses in a personal injury lawsuit.
Why You Need a Personal Injury Attorney
Some car accidents are relatively easy to take on by yourself, especially ones that result in just a few dents to the vehicle. DUI car accidents are not ones to take on by yourself, however. Drunk driving cases are not like other accident injury cases. Many impaired drivers, particularly ones with repeat offenses, do not carry car insurance or are severely underinsured. It can be difficult to receive fair compensation from uninsured and underinsured drivers.
In addition, many insurance companies are hesitant to award compensation after a DUI accident. Personal injury lawsuits after an accident with an impaired driver can get expensive, and the insurance company will create hurdles and obstacles for the injured to try to minimize or reject claims. Insurance companies have a team of lawyers on their side, and you deserve the same representation. If you were injured in an accident with a drunk driver, you should have an attorney to represent you.
DUI Accident Victims Personal Injury Law Firm in York County, Pa.
At Dale E. Anstine Personal Injury Law Firm in York, Pa., we have experience fighting for the rights of the injured after a car accident with an impaired driver. We take these cases seriously and act aggressively to help accident victims receive fair compensation. We won’t settle your case until we are convinced you are offered the money you need and deserve to cover your medical expenses, lost wages, property damages, and pain and suffering.
We know and understand that a car accident with a drunk driver is a stressful and traumatic experience. Let us help you navigate the legal system and take on the burden of a personal injury case for you. We offer free consultations and are available 24/7 to answer your questions. We will keep you informed every step of the way and will fight for you! Reach out today to discuss your case. We never charge a fee unless we win for you!