It can happen in an instant. You’re driving down the road, obeying the law, when a driver who has had too much to drink collides with your vehicle. The result can be injuries to you and possibly your passengers, damage to your car and any personal property in it, and possibly even death for some of the people involved.
Many injuries stemming from vehicle accidents can even make you unable to work for a period of time, so you may experience financial strain and perhaps even difficulty keeping the job.
What should you do if you’re in an accident with someone driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol?
Several steps are essential to take.
Call the police or 911
Your first step should be to contact the authorities. If no one is seriously injured, call the police. If there are injuries, call 911; the dispatchers will alert both police and emergency responders.
The reason this is the first step is appropriate steps need to be taken. Police can administer a breathalyzer (a device that tests the amount of alcohol in a person’s system) if they suspect a driver has had too much to drink. This can establish whether the driver was indeed legally drunk, usually a blood alcohol content (BAC) reading of 0.08 or more. Even if you or other parties notice alcohol on someone’s breath, your observations are not conclusive.
A breathalyzer can be used as evidence to convict the person of a DUI charge. These come with deterrents, such as fines and perhaps time in jail. DUIs can help get drunk drivers off the roads by providing these deterrents, plus education, and, if the person has had more than one charge, suspending their driver’s license.
The police will also issue a report on the accident, stating what happened, the time and date, the road and weather conditions, and more. Police reports can be used to establish what happened and who or what was responsible.
The injured will also be treated promptly if you call 911.
Exchange contact information with the other driver
Drivers involved in an accident need to exchange contact information with each other. Provide, and get in return, the name, address, phone number, and insurance information for the other driver.
Get medical attention
Even if you have no visible or obvious injuries, it’s a good idea to go to your doctor’s office after an accident. Many injuries aren’t visible or painful. A concussion, for example, may have no symptoms but be quite dangerous. Tell your doctor you were in an accident and they will give you an exam.
Call your insurance company.
Once you have a copy of the police report, call your insurance company to report the accident. If you live in a no-fault state, your injuries and damage to your car should be covered by payment from the insurance you have.
However, sometimes insurance companies try to limit the size of a legitimate payout. They can claim that your injuries didn’t make you unable to work, for example, or try to say you contributed to the accident by going over the speed limit.
It’s wise to contact an attorney before you talk to the insurance company because this sometimes happens. They can negotiate for fairer settlements and even bring a court case for your damages if necessary.