Despite decades of aggressive advertising campaigns and strict regulations, drunk driving still occurs on a daily basis all over the country. According to NHTSA estimates, 32 people in the United States die every day in drunk driving crashes; that works out to one person every 45 minutes, on average. To make matters worse, these numbers are increasing; in 2020, despite less overall driving, 11,654 people died in drunk driving-related vehicular crashes, marking a 14 percent increase from 2019.
What should you do if you’re hit by a drunk driver?
Take a Deep Breath
Before you do anything else, take a deep breath and try to calm your mind. Car accidents are highly shocking, traumatic events that will inevitably spike your adrenaline and fill you with emotion. However, it’s important to avoid allowing these emotions to control you; reckless actions like attacking the other driver or immediately getting out of the vehicle could put you in more danger and open you up to liability issues in the future. Instead, think calmly and rationally about your decisions.
Get to Safety
As soon as possible, get yourself and others to safety. If your car is still drivable, drive it to the side of the road. Otherwise, it may be in your best interest to either stay in the vehicle or exit the vehicle and get off the road – depending on the location of your crash.
This is also important to increase safety for other drivers. If your car is in the middle of the road, it could lead to a chain reaction of other crashes, putting other people in unnecessary danger.
Start Contacting People
Once you and the other people involved in the collision are safe, immediately start contacting people.
- Emergency services. First, you’ll want to contact emergency services and get an ambulance for anyone who is significantly hurt. Even if you don’t believe you’re injured, it’s a good idea to get checked out at a hospital, since you may be suffering from injuries you can’t currently feel.
- The police. It’s also important to contact the police and file a formal police report as soon as possible. This is going to be a foundational record for the accident, so it’s important to get right; take the time to double check the details of the police report to ensure its accuracy.
- Your lawyer. It’s very important to have a lawyer who can help you navigate the aftermath of the drunk driving accident. Your lawyer will help you understand the true ramifications of the accident and can provide you with direction on negotiating with insurance companies and eventually reaching a better settlement.
- Family and friends. It’s also a good idea to contact family members and friends, letting them know that you’ve been in an accident. You may also lean on these people for support in the near future.
Assuming you’re able to physically move, gather evidence while at the scene. The more evidence you have, the more likely you’ll be to get full compensation for this accident.
- Photos. Take photos of the cars involved in the accident, as well as your surroundings. It’s also a good idea to take photos of ID cards and insurance information associated with everyone else involved in the accident.
- Videos and footage. You may also want to take videos to document the damage and the scene of the accident. If you had a dash cam rolling, make sure to save and highlight the footage. If there are any surveillance cameras in your vicinity, contact the owners to see if you can get a copy of the footage.
- Details from memory. It’s also important to write down any details about the accident that you currently recall. Your memory may fade or become distorted overtime, so the sooner you write these details down, the better.
- Eyewitness accounts. Did anyone else in the area witness this accident? If so, take a statement from those people and get their contact information in case you need to reach them in the future.
Seek Medical Attention
Even if you don’t feel like you need it, it’s important to seek medical attention. Doctors and nurses will be able to determine whether there’s any significant damage to your body. It’s also important to attend follow-up appointments and comply with all medical advice you receive; otherwise, you may win less compensation when it comes time to negotiate with insurance companies.
While you’re at it, keep detailed records of all your appointments and medical costs; you may need these later.
After a vehicular accident, you may struggle with symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or feel heightened anxiety in or around cars. Even if you don’t, recovering from your injuries may be a struggle and you may face higher levels of stress and anxiety in general. Make sure you seek support during this time, reaching out to family and friends and engaging in therapy or support groups when needed.
Getting hit by a drunk driver is one of the worst things you could ever face, but there are options available to you so that you can seek justice and appropriate compensation. As long as you follow these strategies, you’ll be in a much better position to recover smoothly and be compensated for your losses.