5 Steps to Take After an Accident With a Drunk Driver
Car accidents are always unexpected events which make it impossible to feel prepared in the moments following. After the initial impact and once your vehicle is at rest, the feelings of shock and adrenaline are still rising for most drivers. Uncertainty and stress elevate even higher when you suspect that the other driver in the collision is under the influence. Their behavior may be unpredictable, erratic, and even scary. Their words may be slurred and non-sensical. If you find yourself in this kind of situation, consider taking the following steps.
1. Remain Calm
Easier said than done, but if you are dealing with an erratic character and there isn’t anyone available to act as an intermediary (such as a police officer or EMT), speak calmly and avoid escalating the already tense situation. If the other driver appears aggressive, put space between you and them. If it is safe, you may wait in your vehicle, but first, check to make sure there isn’t broken glass or risk of fire. When the other driver is in a compromised state, it’s not your job to calm them or convince them that they are at fault. Don’t apologize for the collision that you did not cause to calm them down either. If they remember your apology, it may be used against you later as a statement against self-interest.
2. Call the Authorities
If you can do so, make sure that you call the police as soon as possible. Don’t expect that the other driver or others passing by will make the call. When you call, advise the dispatcher that you suspect that the other driver is under the influence and give specific reasons why, such as slurred speech, erratic behavior, falling or stumbling while walking, etc.
3. Collect Evidence
If it’s safe to do so, take a video of the offending driver. If they are acting erratic or belligerent, you will want proof of their behavior. You cannot control whether the reporting officer at the scene arrests or tickets the other driver for criminal behavior (or whether the prosecutor files charges), but you can collect evidence so long as the other person doesn’t have a reasonable expectation of privacy. Suppose you are concerned that the other driver may flee the scene. In that case, this will also help identify who was driving the vehicle and avoid a possible false claim that their car was “stolen,” and therefore, the owner is not liable.
If there are any witnesses at the scene, be sure to get their names and contact information. Do not expect that the police will always do so. Some individuals are wary of speaking with police officers but they could help with understanding what happened at the time of the collision or the moments afterward.
4. seek medical attention
If you are injured, it is critical to seek medical attention as soon as possible. With adrenaline pumping and the initial shock, you may not feel the full impact of the collision in the immediate hours after a wreck. Even if you don’t know whether the other driver carries auto insurance, you will at least have uninsured motorist coverage where you can claim medical treatment in most states so long as you carry auto insurance.
5. Contact an attorney
The other driver’s capacity is relevant to your auto injury claim. A car accident attorney can help you navigate those issues with the insurance company, so you are free to take care of yourself and your wellbeing.
If you or a loved one have been injured due to an intoxicated driver, contact Brown & Crouppen for a free consultation to discuss your claim.