Drunk driving accidents remain a persistent problem in our society. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 29 people die every day in motor vehicle accidents involving an alcohol-impaired driver. The annual cost of alcohol-related automobile crashes is more than $44 billion. Car accidents happen, but there is no excuse for one that happens because of drunk driving. The car accident attorneys of Cooper Schall & Levy are dedicated to holding irresponsible drivers accountable and winning the maximum possible compensation for their victims.
What Should I Do Immediately After Being Involved in a Drunk Driving Accident?
If you’ve been in an automobile accident involving a drunk driver, you have to remain calm and clear-headed. Immediately check for any injuries to yourself and to your passengers, and obtain medical attention for anyone who needs it. Your first priority is the safety of yourself and those riding with you. Depending on how the accident occurred, you may find yourself in oncoming traffic or some other dangerous situation. To the extent possible, get out of traffic and to a place of safety.
Call 911 immediately to report the accident and request police and medical assistance. This is a vital step for taking care of everyone in the car, arresting or finding the responsible driver, and making a police report of the accident.
The Responsible Driver Fled the Scene – Now What?
Unfortunately, far too many motorists flee the scenes of accidents they cause. This is, if anything, more true in drunk driving accidents. If the driver has left, you need to act quickly. Find any nearby witnesses you can (if you are able to do so safely) and ask what they saw. Request that they give a statement to police, but also ask questions about the year, make, and model of the vehicle. Next, question your passengers (if any) and ask what they saw. You can also obtain nearby surveillance camera or dash camera footage in some cases. Of course, be sure to report everything to the responding law enforcement officer, and provide any details you can.
How Will an Accident Report Help Me?
You will need the accident report when you seek compensation for your injuries. It will help establish liability for the accident and make it easier to get paid for your injuries by the responsible insurance company.
It is important that you give a police statement as soon as possible after an accident. In cases of hit-and-run accidents, the police need all of the information they can get to try to find the driver. The sooner you provide this information, and the more details you are able to provide, the more likely it is that the responsible driver will be apprehended.
Be sure you know which law enforcement agency is responding to the accident scene so you can contact it later for a copy of the report. Review the report, when you get a copy of it, and check for inaccuracies or missing information. Request that errors be corrected. You should also obtain any reports you can from treating physicians who responded to the scene or treated you immediately afterwards.
What Are Some Things That I Can Investigate On My Own After an Accident?
The police will hopefully do their job in thoroughly investigating the accident and finding the drunk driver who hit you. But two heads are always better than one. To the extent you don’t interfere with the police investigation, these are some steps you can take to gather your own information:
Find as many witnesses as you can, regardless of whether the driver fled the scene. Accident witnesses can provide valuable details about what happened. Get the witnesses’ names, contact information, and follow up with them. Written statements are always best.
Take note of the conditions existing at the time of the accident. Include the time of day, weather, and the location of the accident. You may also want to note whether the traffic was light, moderate, or heavy. Witness statements can also document this information.
Learn everything you can about the drunk driver. At the accident scene, whether the driver fled or not, there will likely be useful evidence about what happened. Perhaps you or one of your witnesses observed the driver immediately after the accident. Write down whatever you can about him or her, and share it with the police. If you have the driver’s name, search him or her on social media to see whether this individual posted anything that may help.
Take as many pictures and videos as you can of the accident scene. Pictures of the vehicles involved and the entire scene can be useful in demonstrating what happened. If appropriate, have pictures taken of yourself and your passengers too. If there are skid marks or property damage, get a picture. Be sure your photos or video reflect as accurately as possible what the conditions are.
The Driver Wants to Make a “Deal” — Now What?
Absolutely do not make an on-the-spot deal with the drunk driver. He or she is likely trying to avoid liability or jail time, and may try to pay you off so you won’t call the police. Let law enforcement and your attorney do their jobs. Don’t communicate with the driver.
It is highly likely that you will not immediately understand the extent of your or your passengers’ injuries, or even the amount of damage to your vehicle. This reality makes a “deal” at the scene of the accident a very bad idea. Lastly, speaking to the drunk driver only risks you saying something that will be used against you later. The best policy is to stay silent.
Contact Our Philadelphia Drunk Driving Accident Attorney
Recovery should be your number one goal after being involved in a drunk driving accident. But you also need compensation for your injuries and property damage. Let Cooper Schall & Levy fight for you. Contact us today for a consultation regarding your case.