What to Do If You're Injured by a Drunk Driver
Drunk driving car accidents can lead to serious injuries. Despite the efforts of Mothers Against Drunk Driving and similar organizations, the number of drivers who get behind the wheel each year while under the influence is staggering. So much death, loss, and injury could be avoided if the driver simply refused to get behind the wheel.
Insurance companies understand they face significant exposure from damages if one of their drivers causes an accident while drunk. However, you still must build a strong, compelling case so that the insurance company will offer you a significant settlement.
If you or a loved one has been injured by a drunk driver, the car accident 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, loss of earnings, pain and anguish, and more.
Call us today at 800-863-5312 for a free consultation with one of our car accident lawyers.
1. Document as Much as Possible
If you decide to file personal injury claim, having evidence to support your claim is extremely important. Immediately after an accident, call the police. The police will write an accident report that may be used to determine who was at fault for the accident. If the driver who was involved in the accident with you was drunk, the police may also place the driver in custody and charge him or her with DUI.
Be sure to always document and retrieve evidence from the scene of the accident. Get the name, address, license number, plate number, and insurance information from all the drivers involved in the accident. Also, if the driver involved in an accident was working for an employer, you should obtain the name and contact information of the driver’s employer.
Witness testimony is often key in car accident cases. If there were witnesses to the accident, you should also get the names and contact information of the witnesses. 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.
Medical records are also important. If you do not have any medical records of your accident, an insurance company may try to argue that you are faking your injuries and the like. In addition, store all your medical bills and any other expenses related to the accident.
2. You May Still Sue Even if They Aren’t Charged with a DUI
Just because a driver who was involved in an accident with you was not charged with DUI does not mean that you no longer have a claim. Though the driver being convicted of drunk driving would be helpful, as long as there is evidence that the driver was drunk at the time of accident, a DUI conviction is not necessary.
This evidence may be used to show that the driver 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.
3. Get Your Injuries Seen by a Doctor as Soon as Possible
Many people who get involved in a car accident make the mistake of not seeing a doctor immediately after the accident. There are several reasons why accident victims do not go to the hospital or see a doctor away.
Some accident victims do not feel pain immediately after the accident. 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 an accident may have a detrimental effect on your personal injury claim if you decide to file a claim later down the road. Even if you feel like filing a personal injury claim 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.
Many car accident victims do not feel pain after a car accident. This is because of the adrenaline that surges through your body after an accident. Though adrenaline is the hormone that generally activates in situations involving flight or fight, in the car accident context, adrenaline may trick you into thinking you are perfectly fine after the accident.
By the next day, however, the adrenaline will subside, and the victim may slowly feel pain. After a week or two, the victim may feel the full extent of the injuries he or she received from the car accident. Thus, it is important that if you get involved in a car accident, you seek help from a doctor right away.
Whether or not you feel pain the first day after a car accident or whether you think the whiplash you received 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.
For instance, if you decide to seek treatment a month after the date of the car accident, an insurance company representative may say that your injuries must have not been serious if you decided to wait a month before seeking treatment. As a result, the insurance company may offer you less money on your claim or even deny your claim altogether. In any case, always see a doctor right away after a car accident. There is always the possibility of concussion or internal bleeding that may initially be masked by adrenaline.
4. Be Wary of the Insurance Company
Here are some tips in dealing with insurance companies after a car accident.
Don’t Sign Medical Releases Provided by Another Party’s Insurance Company
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 should not let them as they may rummage through your medical records to look for some other injury you may have had and use that injury as an excuse to pay you less.
Don’t Rush to Settle Your Claim
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. Once a settlement is reached, there is very little more that you can do. Therefore, be sure that you are getting a good deal before you decide to settle.
Don’t Believe Insurance Claim Adjuster’s Value of Your Injuries
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 say that your injuries are worth this much, take it with a grain of salt. Insurance claims adjusters are not average people plucked off the street. They are trained negotiators who want the best for their employer. Thus, they want to reduce your claim or deny your claim altogether. Always remember, no matter how sympathetic a claims adjuster may seem, he or she is not working for you but for the insurance company employer.
Do not Speak to an Insurance Claims Adjuster Until You Speak with a Lawyer
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.
Do Not Be Intimidated If the Insurance Company Starts to Ignore You.
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. If such incidents occur in your claim, call a lawyer right away.
Speak to a Car Accident Lawyer
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. An experienced 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.
OUR DRUNK DRIVING INJURY LAWYERS MAY HELP
Unfortunately, drunk driving accidents occur every day. But Zinda Law Group is here to help. Our knowledgeable drunk driver attorneys may help ensure the proper steps are taken to seek maximum compensation.
If you were the victim of an impaired driver, call Zinda Law Group today at (888) 449-1160 for a free consultation with a drunk driver attorney. You will pay nothing unless we can win your case.
Meetings with attorneys by appointment only.