What to Do After Getting Hit by a Drunk Driver
It is difficult to know what to do after a car accident, and the chaos and confusion of an accident scene are overwhelming for anyone regardless of the circumstances. When a drunk driver is involved, however, there are even more issues to deal with. It is important for victims of drunk drivers to be represented by a personal injury lawyer who understands drunk driving cases. Our experienced Pennsylvania auto accident lawyers at Ostroff Godshall Injury and Accident Lawyers have years of experience handling car crash cases and have recovered millions of dollars on behalf of our clients. We are skilled negotiators and aggressive litigators who know how to get our clients the compensation to which they are legally entitled. Call us today to schedule your free consultation.
Pennsylvania DUI by the Numbers
The Pennsylvania DUI Association reports that 26 percent of all traffic deaths in our state in 2017 were related to alcohol. This means that more than one out of every four traffic deaths were caused by a drunk driver. Here are some quick facts about DUI deaths in Pennsylvania:
- 293 people died in alcohol-related crashes in Pennsylvania in 2017. This is about .8 deaths per day. An additional 18 people were injured by drunk drivers every day.
- Underage drinking and driving is a particular problem here in Pennsylvania. The Association reports that 12 percent of the drivers aged 16-20 who were killed in 2016 had been drinking. By 2017, that number had increased to 16 percent.
- Accidents involving alcohol were four times more likely to be fatal. In 2017, accidents that did not involve alcohol caused fatal injuries .07 percent of the time. Accidents that did involve alcohol were fatal 3 percent of the time.
What To Do If You Are Hit by a Drunk Driver
If you are hit by a drunk driver, it is imperative that you call 911 right away, as it’s important to have the police respond to the scene. You will need the evidence they collect and the report they will prepare. You might also need emergency medical services, and 911 can arrange for this as well. Once you have called 911, follow these important steps:
- Determine if you or anyone else needs medical attention. Your health and safety should be your number one concern.
- Try to drive your vehicle to a safe spot out of the way of traffic. If your vehicle is not drivable, you should get out and find a safe place to wait for the police. Disabled vehicles can cause secondary accidents, and you do not want to be inside if this occurs.
- If the drunk driver attempts to flee the scene of the accident, try to get as much evidence as you can. Take a picture of the car’s license plate. Take photos of empty bottles or other incriminating evidence. If you can, take a video of the driver. A video of the driver exhibiting slurred speech, stumbling, bloodshot eyes, and other signs of intoxication could be used as evidence later.
- Work with the law enforcement officers that respond to the scene. Tell them your version of events and give them the information they request. They should leave you with a card or report that has contact information. If they do not, ask how you can get a copy of the police report once it has been finalized.
- Once you have left the scene of the accident, form a plan for your medical care. You should still see a doctor even if you choose not to leave the scene in an ambulance. You might want to visit an urgent care center or emergency department right away. If nothing else, you should follow up with your primary care doctor in a day or two. Only a qualified medical professional can give you a clean bill of health (or properly diagnose your injuries). It is also important to check for latent injuries that do not show up right away. Whiplash is a common example – often, the victim’s neck will not hurt right away but will start to bother him or her a day or two after the accident occurred.
- Once you have addressed your medical needs, it is time to take care of your legal needs. Find a personal injury attorney right away. It is important to find an auto accident lawyer who has experience with drunk driving cases. These cases present different legal issues, and you might have to deal with both the civil and criminal court. Our experienced Pennsylvania personal injury lawyers at Ostroff Godshall Injury and Accident Lawyers know how to handle DUI cases.
- Do not make any statements about the accident to the other driver or the other driver’s insurance company. The other insurance company will likely try to contact you as soon as the claim is filed. They often ask for a recorded statement about what happened in the accident. You should not make this or any other statement. Simply let the insurance company know that you have an attorney. As soon as they are notified that you are represented by counsel, the insurance company can no longer contact you about the accident. All communications must be made through your attorney. This both alleviates the hassle of dealing with the insurance company and protects your legal right to compensation.
- Do not post anything on social media about the accident. Posts and photos can be used as evidence in your case. Insurance companies hire investigators to go through social media channels and find evidence that can be used against you. Even something as simple as a gym selfie could affect your legal rights – the insurance company could claim that you aren’t really in pain if you are able to work out.
Call Us Today to Speak with a Pennsylvania Drunk Driving Accident Attorney
Victims of drunk drivers have important legal rights that must be protected, and it is critical to hold drunk drivers accountable for their actions to deter such dangerous conduct in the future. Civil cases and criminal charges are important processes that help keep drunk drivers off the roads of Pennsylvania. At Ostroff Godshall Injury and Accident Lawyers, we are committed to helping Pennsylvania car crash victims protect their legal right to compensation. Call or contact us online to schedule your free consultation with one of our experienced auto accident lawyers.