Important Steps to Consider if You Have Been Hit By a Drunk Driver

Being a driver in the southern California requires a great deal of care. As a safe driver, you will likely already be aware that you have to give yourself extra time to arrive at your destination. You will also limit your distractions while you are behind the wheel. Taking personal responsibilities for your driving is not enough, unfortunately. Even the safest drivers run the risk of undergoing a car accident and this is because drivers cannot control the actions of drivers around them.

As State of California drivers, we owe a duty of care to other drivers and pedestrians. Failure to do so can affect our ability to drive and can also devastate the life of those injured. As previously mentioned, however, even the safest drivers are exposed to negligent drivers on the road. The following article will highlight important steps you should consider if you have been hit by a drunk driver.

Contact Emergency Services

If you have been hit by a drunk driver, contact emergency services immediately by dialing 9-1-1. The negligent driver will face penalties which could include imprisonment and fines by way of a criminal court action. He or she could also be held liable for the injuries he or she may have caused by a civil personal injury law suit.

Contacting emergency services will also establish a record about the circumstances of the event. Be sure to speak to the responding officer who will make a written report about your version of events. You may also be able to ask the responding officer the opportunity to look over the report as well as have him or her make changes to any discrepancies you see in the report. If you do not receive an immediate copy, but sure to find out when, and where you can get a copy of the report.

Whether or not you were injured by the drunk driver, you should always contact the police if you have reason to believe the negligent driver was drunk or not. It is always better to have a police officer make the necessary tests on the driver than to assume he or she is not drunk and have another innocent bystander be later injured. This documented condition of the negligent driver can help your injury claim dramatically.

Collect Important Information

After an accident, you should always collect information when possible. If you have the ability to do so, collect the contact information of any bystanders, witnesses, and even the other driver you were involved in the accident with. If it is possible, attempt to take pictures of all vehicles involved in the accident. You may also want to take pictures of the scene which may include, but are not limited to:

  • Posted street signs
  • Weather conditions
  • The conditions of the street 

Recently: A family of four was recently traveling in a motor vehicle that was struck by another driver who is believed to have been operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. There is believed to be only one survivor from the accident, which occurred when one vehicle crossed into the southbound lane and collided head-on with the other. The driver who caused the accident faces two counts of intoxication manslaughter resulting from the incident.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that approximately 10,000 deaths occur each year due to drunk driving accidents. These accidents frequently result in serious injuries and sometimes even fatalities. 

Two Types of Charges Arise From a DUI Accident

 In the state of California, a drunk driver can face there types of charges:

  • A civil personal injury action, which is filed by the opposing party’s legal counsel if the victim sustained injury or property damage/loss
  • A criminal action, which is filed by the district attorney in order to prosecute criminal charges that could result in fines, jail time and more
  • A California DMV administrative hearing in which the DMV can suspend or revoke a driver license 

How Motor Vehicle Operators can Avoid Drunk Driving Charges

Some of the steps that a person can take to avoid facing drunk driving charges include the following: 

  • Select a Designated Driver: Some people have the option of selecting a designated driver who can make sure that the person returns home safely. A designated driver can be anyone who can safely operate a motor vehicle and has not imbibed any alcohol that night.
  • Spend the Night at a Closer Location: If a person attends a party and imbibes too much alcohol, it is often a wise idea to stay there rather than drive home.
  • Use Public Transportation: By deciding to use a ride-share or public transit, a person can avoid operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. 

Tips for Sober Operators to Drive Defensively and Avoid Drunk Driving Accidents

Some of the steps that motor vehicle operators can take to avoid being involved in accidents include the following: 

  • Allow a Distance from Other Vehicles: Maintaining a distance of several vehicle lengths from other drivers can significantly help to reduce drunk driving accidents.
  • Avoid Late Night Weekend Driving: Many drunk driving accidents occur on weekends, which motorists can avoid by not driving at this time.
  • Use Caution While Traveling Through Intersections: Many drunk driving accidents occur while motorists are passing through intersections. In these situations, it is a wise idea to watch carefully for oncoming traffic regardless if your light is green or not.
  • Wear a Seatbelt: All occupants of motor vehicles should wear seat belts to protect themselves from drunk driving accidents. It is important that a seat belt is worn every time a person is in a vehicle.

The Bottom Line

Being struck by a drunk driver can be a terrifying experience. If you have been hit by a drunk driver, take the necessary steps to ensure that your rights are protected in the aftermath of the incident. If you have been struck by a negligent driver, consider speaking to a qualified attorney who can champion for your rights. If you have been injured by the negligent driver, an attorney can help you seek financial compensation for your injuries.

Attorney Justin H. King has helped many victims obtain financial compensation for the injuries negligent drivers have caused. Attorney Justin H. King has extensive experience in dealing with serious auto accident claims.

Transcript: My name’s Justin King and I’m a personal injury lawyer here in the Inland Empire and I want to talk to you briefly about your rights if you’re struck by a drunk driver on the road. If you’re struck by drunk driver and that drunk driver is prosecuted, the district attorney is going to contact you as the victim of that and ask you to get an itemization or get a list of your out of pocket expenses, your medical expenses, you lost income and the cost of any property that was damaged in the accident because you can recover those items at what is called a restitution hearing which is held in the criminal courts. And the DA will ask the judge to ask the drunk driver to compensate you for those items. But that only represents really part, and a small part, of what you’re entitled to be compensated on as a result of the injuries that you suffered in the accident.

If you contact a civil lawyer, like myself, or someone in my profession, we can file a civil lawsuit on your behalf and not only can you recover your medical expenses, your lost income, and your property damage expenses, but you can also recover what are called pain and suffering damages. How that… Compensation for how that injury has affected your life on a personal level. You may no longer be the type of father that you used to be or able to play with your kids the same way you used or be the same type of spouse that you used to because of your injuries. You may not be able to go back to work on a permanent basis. Those are all things that can be factored in in a civil lawsuit that are not factored in at a restitution hearing.

Also at a restitution hearing, the amount of restitution that you get from that drunk driver is subject to their ability to pay whereas in a civil case, we can access that drunk driver’s insurance policy. They drive with an auto insurance policy. We can access that auto insurance policy and any money that it has to compensate you, whereas an auto insurance policy does not cover restitution damages. So, you want to contact a civil lawyer immediately so they can pursue your civil rights and that you can be fully compensated for the injuries you suffered in the accident. And also, you want to do both.

So, you want to cooperate with the district attorney but you want to keep your civil attorney, your personal injury lawyer in the loop as to what you are doing with the district attorney at the restitution hearing. All the time, I work hand in hand with the district attorney in order to maximize my client’s recovery and we can even structure your settlements in the civil case to where they are allocated mostly to general damages because the drunk driver will end up getting a credit at the restitution hearing for what is paid out by his insurance carrier in the civil case. So, you wanna attribute as much of that to your general damages as possible in order to maximize what you can get from that person personally for your medical and lost income expenses.

If you have been struck by a drunk driver, please contact a civil attorney like myself, a personal injury lawyer so that you know your rights and can be advised about your rights. If you have any questions, you can always feel free to call my office or visit my website.