What to Do If You’re Injured by a Drunk Driver

Last updated on: November 30, 2022

If you get injured due to the actions of another party, that party’s insurance company may ask you to sign a medical release. You have the right to refuse signing the medical release and prevent the insurance company from looking through all your medical records.  

It is understandable that after an injury, you want to move on with your life. However, if you move too quickly, you may not be able to seek maximum compensation. You have the right to negotiate your settlement and ensure you get a fair compensation amount before you accept an offer and eliminate your right to further recovery.

Because insurance companies need to make a profit, they may look to give you as little as possible for your injuries. Thus, when a claims adjuster says that your injuries are worth this much, take it with a grain of salt. Insurance claims adjusters are trained negotiators who want the best for their employer.

Therefore, insurance claims adjusters want to reduce your claim or deny your claim altogether. Remember, even though a claims adjuster may seem highly sympathetic to your case, he or she is not working for you but for the insurance company employer.

Often, a claims adjuster will want to chat with you. They may ask you questions that may seem harmless. However, they may trick you into saying that the accident was partially your fault or other statements that they may use to lessen the value of your claim.

You have the right to hire an attorney and allow him or her to talk to the insurance adjuster on your behalf. That way, you can reduce the chance of saying something that harms the strength of your claim.

Some insurance companies try to use a delaying tactic to avoid giving you compensation for your claim. For instance, in Texas, the statute of limitations requires a claimant to file a claim within two years of an accident. An insurance company in Texas may try to delay your claim by pretending to lose your paperwork or not respond to your calls.

By engaging in such tactics, the insurance company hopes that you might give up your claim or miss the deadline to file a lawsuit. Do not allow the insurance company to use such tactics on you: If such incidents occur in your claim, call a lawyer right away.

Finally, if a driver who was involved in an accident with you was not charged with a DUI, it does not mean that you no longer have a claim. Though the existence of the driver’s previous drunk driving conviction could help prove your claim, as long as there is evidence that the driver was drunk at the time of accident, a DUI conviction is not necessary.

You can use evidence of the driver’s intoxication to show that he or she was negligent and liable for your accident, even if he or she may not be criminally liable. However, if the driver was charged with DUI, then you may be eligible for punitive damages, which you may think of as additional compensation that the drunk driver owes you in additional to the civil suit compensation.

Drunk Driving Crash Statistics

Accidents resulting from drivers operating under the influence of alcohol claim approximately 30 lives per day. During 2019, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that a total of 10,142 people were killed as a result of motor vehicle accidents involving an alcohol-impaired driver. Fortunately, most auto accidents are not fatal, but injured victims benefit from consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer who can present options which will help reduce risks such as large medical bills and lost wages. 

DUI Signs to Look for After a Car Crash

All drivers should be aware of the steps to take following an accident that involves an alcohol-impaired driver. Contacting law enforcement authorities as soon as possible after the accident is crucial, even if the accident does not appear to be serious.

It is important for law enforcement officers to respond quickly and preserve evidence at the scene—such as the driver’s BAC. Having law enforcement officers on the scene as soon as possible will also allow potential witnesses to better recall the details of the accident while it is still fresh in their minds.

Every potential witness should be encouraged to remain on the scene until law enforcement arrives. The witnesses may have noticed that the other driver was driving erratically before the crash, or the witnesses may be able to attest to the drunken driver’s behavior immediately following the crash.

If there were witnesses to the accident, you should try to get their names and contact information. If any of the witnesses took photographs or video recordings of the accident, ask them for copies. If you yourself have a camera at the scene of the accident, take some photographs of the scene.

Why a Hiring a Lawyer after Drunk Driving Accident is Important

Even if you are comfortable with the law, you may have trouble dealing with insurance companies. A personal injury lawyer should know all the hurdles insurance companies throw at claimants. Thus, if your insurance company or the other party’s insurance company is being difficult, you may want to call a lawyer.

An experienced lawyer may help you deal with the insurance companies, which are often very reluctant to provide full coverage for victims. A skilled lawyer knows the tactics of insurance companies that try to give as little as possible and may counter these tactics so that clients have a chance of seeking full compensation. Additionally, if you are unsatisfied with an insurance company’s offer, a lawyer may represent you at trial.

The advice available from experienced attorneys like those at Zinda Law Group can mean the difference between receiving minimal compensation from an insurance company or receiving fair and adequate compensation that will help alleviate your concerns over medical expenses, lost wages and motor vehicle replacement costs. If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident involving a driver who was under the influence of alcohol, call the team at Zinda Law Group toll free at (800) 836-5312 as soon as possible to ensure that you are protected and receive the compensation you truly deserve.  

If You Have Been Injured by a Drunk Driver You Can Sue the Driver for Damages

As the victim of a drunk driving accident, you are likely eligible for economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are meant to compensate you for your financial expenses, and non-economic damages cover your pain and suffering. As mentioned earlier, you could even receive punitive damages, depending on the facts of your case.

Victim Restitution vs. Civil DUI Lawsuits

You may have heard of “victim restitution” and wondered whether it applies in your case. Victim restitution comes about in a criminal case. It is an order imposed upon the drunk driver in a DUI case, and it is brought on behalf of the state by the prosecutor.

In a civil lawsuit, the victim or the victim’s loved ones must file the lawsuit against the drunk driver privately. There are often more opportunities for compensation through a civil lawsuit.

Can Family Members of People Hit by DUI Drivers Get Compensation?

If someone in your family was hit by a driver with a DUI, you can be compensated for the emotional and financial loss you suffer. You may receive compensation in the form of funeral expenses, income loss, and loss of companionship.

Is a Drunk Driver Automatically Liable for an Accident?

Just because the person who crashed into you or your loved one was driving while intoxicated, that driver may not automatically take all the blame. The drunk driver might argue that you or your loved one was partially at fault for the accident and may try to reduce the amount of compensation you could receive. However, a driver’s intoxication generally increases the likelihood that the driver will be found responsible for an auto accident.

What’s the Average Settlement for Getting Hit by Drunk Drivers?

Since each accident is different, there is no standard average settlement for the amount you will receive from a drunk driving accident. Factors that could impact the settlement amount include your injuries, the actions of the parties involved, and how well you are able to negotiate with the insurance companies and the defendant’s attorney.

Calculating a Drunk Driving Settlement

Show that you deserve the settlement amount you are seeking by itemizing and calculating your damages. These include your medical expenses, property damage, lost wages, lost future income, estimated future medical expenses, and non-economic damages. An attorney can help ensure that you do not leave out any of the financial or emotional hardship you suffered from the accident.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can you prove impaired driving?

As mentioned before, if a driver has a previous DUI, it can be used as evidence that the driver drank and drove. However, the preferred evidence is from the accident report. That is why it is crucial to get the officer on scene as soon as possible to prove that the driver has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) over the legal limit.

Can you get a settlement if you were hit by a drunk driver?

If you were hit by a drunk driver, you could be compensated for the injuries you suffered. Call our Zinda Law Group attorneys at (800) 836-5312 to set up your free consultation. We will help you determine the next steps and develop a legal strategy for your claim.  

Are drunk drivers are more likely to survive an alcohol related crash than sober drivers and passengers?

Studies show that people with a higher BAC are more likely to survive crashes. When a sober person is in a crash, his or her body responds by going into an emergency preservation mode. However, that preservation mode can result in the death of the victim.

When someone is intoxicated, their body is less likely to go into emergency preservation mode. Further, the higher someone’s BAC is, the more they are protected from entering emergency preservation mode. Therefore, drunk people are less likely to die in a crash.