Written By: Attorney Chelsea Cates
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Drunk driving car wrecks can lead to serious injuries and even death. According to the Center for Disease Control, every day in the United States, 29 people die in motor vehicle crashes involving a driver impaired by alcohol (one death every 50 minutes). Though these types of car crashes can be prevented if drivers simply choose not to get behind the wheel after consuming alcohol, unfortunately drunk driving crashes have become all too common. Being involved in a drunk driving collision is traumatic, and affects the way you are able to live your life going forward.
Insurance companies understand they face significant exposure if one of their insured drivers causes a crash while intoxicated or impaired by alcohol. However, you still must build a strong, compelling case so that the insurance company will fairly evaluate your claims and offer a significant settlement.
As a victim of a drunk driver, you probably have more questions than answers following the collision. If you or a loved one have been injured by a drunk driver, the experienced personal injury attorneys at Zinda Law Group can help. We have the knowledge and resources necessary to help you seek maximum compensation for medical bills, property damage, lost wages, pain and suffering, mental anguish, and more.
CALL 911 FROM THE SCENE OF THE CRASH
If you decide to file a personal injury claim, having evidence to support your claim is extremely important. Immediately after a drunk driving collision, call the police. The police may write a report that can be used to determine who was at fault for the crash, as well as explain the officer’s opinions about what happened. The report may also contain other essential information such as witness statements and insurance information. After a drunk driving crash, the police may also place the driver under arrest and charge him or her with Driving Under the Influence or Driving While Intoxicated.
Having this type of information documented in a drunk driving case is critical. Otherwise, it quickly becomes a battle of “he said, she said,” with limited or no other evidence to support your claim that the responsible driver was under the influence of alcohol or intoxicated at the time of the crash.
GATHER ALL WITNESS INFORMATION & DOCUMENT AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE
Witness statements and/or testimony is often key in car crash cases, particularly those that involve a drunk driver. If there were witnesses to the crash, you should get the names and contact information of the witnesses. If any of the witnesses took photographs or video recordings of the crash, ask them for copies.
Be sure to always document and retrieve evidence from the scene of the crash. Get the name, address, driver’s license number, license plate number, vehicle information, and insurance information from all drivers involved in the crash. Also, if the driver responsible for causing the drunk driving crash was working for an employer or driving a commercial vehicle, you should obtain the name and contact information of the driver’s employer.
If your injuries prevent you from obtaining this information at the scene, it is all the more important to ensure the police are called, so that they may collect this information.
If you have a camera at the scene of the crash and are physically able to, take some photographs of the scene itself, including any emergency response vehicles, positioning of the vehicles, tire marks, etc. It is also a good idea to take pictures of the vehicles involved in the crash and the property damage sustained. If any of your other personal property, such as a cell phone or laptop are damaged or destroyed as a result of the crash, take photographs of those items and locate any receipts you may have from their original purchase.
Medical records and bills are also extremely important. While your personal injury attorney may formally request this type of documentation later on, you should keep any documentation you receive from your medical providers. You should also keep track of any other out of pocket expenses related to the crash such as towing charges, mileage, storage costs, medical equipment costs (crutches, bandages, and over-the-counter pain medication), and prescription costs.
If you have to miss work because of the crash, keep a detailed list of the dates/times missed. You should also attempt to gather any other relevant financial documentation you possess that would show proof of your wages prior to the crash such as pay stubs or tax returns.
GET YOUR INJURIES EXAMINED BY A MEDICAL DOCTOR AS SOON AS POSSIBLE
Many car wreck victims make the mistake of not seeing a doctor immediately after the crash. There are several reasons why car wreck victims do not go to the hospital or see a doctor away. Some do not feel pain immediately following the wreck. Others may have pain, but they believe that the pain will fade over time. However, not going to the hospital or seeing a doctor after a collision may have a detrimental effect on your personal injury claim if you decide to file a claim later on. Even if you feel like filing a personal injury claim with the responsible party’s insurance carrier is a hassle, we encourage you to go to the hospital and see a doctor not only for your health’s sake, but also in case you change your mind and decide to file a personal injury claim at a later date.
Whether or not you feel pain in the moments or first few days after a car wreck or whether you think the pain you do feel will eventually heal, you should nevertheless go to the hospital and see a doctor. If you delay in receiving treatment, the insurance companies may use that fact against you.
As a result, the insurance company may offer you less money for your personal injury claim or even deny your claim altogether. In any case, always see a doctor right away after a car crash. It is impossible to know the extent of your injuries without getting checked out by a medical professional.
DON’T SPEAK TO INSURANCE ADJUSTERS ABOUT YOUR INJURIES OR MEDICAL TREATMENT
Soon after filing a claim with the responsible party’s insurance company (or if the responsible party has already reported it themselves), you will likely receive calls and/or additional correspondence from the insurance company to negotiate a settlement. Typically, they want to hear your side of what happened, what property damage your vehicle sustained, and the extent of your injuries. These conversations are recorded and, unfortunately, insurance adjusters may use information learned in these communications against you later on. For example, if you tell the insurance adjuster that you were not injured in the crash because you did not feel any pain immediately following the collision but develop immense pain down the line, which requires extensive treatment, the insurance company may refuse to pay for that treatment based on your original statements.
Hiring a personal injury attorney may help you avoid misspeaking to insurance adjusters, as the attorney will take over that conversation for you to protect you. When you hire a personal injury attorney, all communication is directed to your attorney’s office, relieving you of that burden.
AVOID POSTING ANYTHING RELATED TO THE DRUNK DRIVING CRASH ON SOCIAL MEDIA
If you use Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, or other social media, you should immediately make your profiles private and refrain from accepting future friend requests from any person you do not personally know. Unfortunately, insurance companies and the attorneys and private investigators who work for them will try to gain access to your social media pages in order to obtain information that may be used to defeat or damage your personal injury claim.
In order to protect yourself following a drunk driving crash, do not post anything about the drunk driving wreck, your claim, or your injuries on any social media page. When deciding whether or not you should post something online, remember that you should not post anything that you would not want the judge or a juror in your potential case to see.
The rules that govern the assertion of claims do not allow you to delete information about your claim or your injuries that you have already posted. If you have already posted something about your claim, your injuries, or the incident where you were injured, let your attorney know and remember to be careful about what you post in the future.
ATTEND ALL RELATED CRIMINAL PROCEEDINGS FOR THE DRUNK DRIVER
If the drunk driver responsible for causing the crash is criminally prosecuted for his or her actions, there will likely be various criminal proceedings in the weeks and months following the crash. The District Attorney’s office, including a Victim Services Coordinator, may be in contact with you following a drunk driving collision. The District Attorney’s office may keep you apprised of any criminal proceedings related to the crash, so that you may attend if you choose. It is important not only to attend these proceedings if you are able, but to also inform your civil personal injury attorney. Critical evidence related to witnesses, alcohol consumption, police officer opinions and more may be learned in these proceedings, which may also aid your civil personal injury case.
DON’T RUSH TO SETTLE YOUR CLAIM
It is understandable that after a car wreck, you want to move on with your life. However, if you move too quickly, you may prevent yourself from being able to seek maximum compensation for your injuries and damages. You only have one opportunity to settle your drunk driving personal injury claim. Once a settlement is reached, there is very little you can do to increase the value of your case. If you have formally signed any paperwork claiming to release the responsible driver and his or her insurance company from all claims, you cannot go back and seek additional compensation.
As such, it is important to be sure that you seek medical treatment and understand the full extent of your injuries and damages before you settle, so that you don’t settle your case short.
CALL ZINDA LAW GROUP FOR A FREE CONSULTATION
Unfortunately, drunk driving car wrecks occur every day. We hope you never have to experience a drunk driving collision, but if you or a loved one are ever faced with these unfortunate circumstances, Zinda Law Group is here to help. Our experienced personal injury attorneys may help ensure the proper steps are taken to seek maximum compensation for your claims.
If you or a loved one were the victim of an impaired or intoxicated driver, call Zinda Law Group today at (800) 863-5312 for a free consultation. You will not owe us anything for our efforts unless we win your case. That's our No Win, No Fee Guarantee.
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