June, July, and August – these summer months make up the deadliest time in the year for drunk driving. Known as the 100 Deadliest Days of Summer, social drinking between Memorial Day and Labor Day leads to a dramatic increase in drunk driving accidents, injuries, and fatalities. Teenage accident rates also spike during this time, including DUIs by young drivers.
Between 2010 and 2018, drunk driving caused more than 6,000 fatal holiday accidents and over 6,700 fatalities, with a death rate of 112 every 100 accidents. More than a third of fatal holiday accidents involved alcohol impairment. Texas and California saw the most fatalities from holiday drunk driving, but the problem affects the entire country.
If you’re on the road over the holidays, you know to be on the alert for drunk drivers. But no matter how careful you are, someone else’s reckless actions can still get you seriously injured – or worse. A day of family, friends, and celebration could turn into tragedy.
What can you do if you get hit by a drunk driver? What if you’ve lost a loved one because of a DUI driver? Drunk drivers can be punished under criminal laws, but drunk driving victims have rights, too. To help with your recovery after a DUI accident, you can file a claim against a drunk driver in civil court for personal injury or wrongful death.
What Can You Do If a Drunk Driver Hits You?
The first thing you should do immediately after a drunk driving accident is to call 911. The health and safety of you and your passengers should be the highest priority. Emergency services can treat any injuries or get the injured to a hospital, while the police who respond will collect evidence from the scene of the accident and file an official report.
- Disabled vehicles on the road can cause secondary accidents. If possible, move your vehicles to a safer spot out of traffic while you wait for the authorities.
- Gather as much evidence as you can at the scene of the accident, especially if you think the driver may try to run. Take photographs of their vehicle, license plate, and any other incriminating evidence like open bottles in the car. If you can, get a video of the driver’s behavior. Stumbling, slurred speech, or bloodshot eyes could prove intoxication.
- The police may give you a copy of their report before they leave. If they don’t, ask them how and where you can get a copy once the report has been finalized.
- See a medical professional right away, even if you “feel fine.” This ideally means going to the emergency room or an urgent care center right away or checking in with your primary care doctor within a day or two. Only a doctor can give you a clean bill of health or properly diagnose any injuries you may have. Many accident injuries are latent, especially invisible injuries like concussions or traumatic brain injuries. These can cause major health issues months or years later if left untreated.
The second thing you should do as soon as possible is to talk to a personal injury lawyer. No one – not even your insurance company – can fight for your rights like your attorney.
- Make sure to find a lawyer with experience handling drunk driving cases, since these present different types of legal issues. Your case may involve both the civil court system and the criminal justice system. A knowledgeable attorney can help you navigate both with confidence and success.
- Avoid posting anything about your accident on social media or the internet. Insurance company investigators will look for any evidence to weaken your claim. For example, they could argue that a gym selfie proves that you’re not really in pain.
- Do not make any statements to the other driver or their insurance company about the accident. Their insurance company may reach out asking for a recorded statement about the crash – simply tell them to speak with your lawyer instead. Once they know you’re being represented by an attorney, they cannot contact you directly again.
Hiring a lawyer not only helps you avoid the hassle of dealing with the other driver’s insurance company, but you are also much more likely to get a successful settlement for your injuries.
Is It Worth Suing a Drunk Driver?
In many cases, yes. A lawsuit can get you much more than a simple insurance payout. Drunk driving is not only negligent, it is reckless, illegal, and dangerous. Many states allow for punitive damages against drunk drivers to punish them for their conduct. If your state has no limits on punitive damages, that could amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
When you sue a drunk driver, you can also recover monetary compensation for economic and non-economic damages. A settlement or judgment can help cover your losses.
- Economic damages cover your monetary losses from an accident, such as your current and future medical bills, any income you’ve lost from being unable to work because of your injury, and any property damage you’ve experienced in the accident. The more extensive your injuries and losses, the greater damages you can expect – especially if your injury requires intensive care or lifelong treatment.
- Non-economic damages cover the pain, mental suffering, emotional anguish, and loss of enjoyment of life you’ve experienced as a result of the accident. The more severe your injuries and the more permanent your scarring or disability, the more you can expect to be compensated. Wrongful death caused by drunk driving can lead to a significant settlement since nothing can truly replace a life lost.
The only way to find out for sure whether your case is worth pursuing is to talk to a personal injury lawyer about the unique facts of your accident. At Wilshire Law Firm, your consultation is free and we work on a contingency fee basis. That means it costs you nothing to talk to our expert legal team about what you can expect from your case.