What to Do If You’re the Victim of a Drunk Driving Accident
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drunk driving accidents caused 28% of all U.S. traffic deaths in 2016 alone. Intoxicated drivers can face serious penalties, including huge fines, the loss of driving privileges, and even jail time. If you have been involved in a crash that you believe was caused by a drunk driver, it’s essential to take the right steps to protect your rights and hopefully prevent the driver from harming anyone else. The driver should be held responsible for any physical injury or automobile damage that you have incurred as a result of their negligent actions. At the Law Office of Kyle W. Jones in Bakersfield, we work hard to help victims of drunk driving accidents get the compensation they deserve.
The Four Steps You Should Take After the Accident
After a collision with a drunk driver, it’s important to know what actions you should take next. Emotions may run high, but you should try to keep a cool head so that you can assess your injuries and, if you’re able, check on the other driver and call for medical assistance if necessary. Once that’s done, taking the following steps can help you with your case:
1. Document the Accident
Often after an accident, people may forget some small details that could actually have a big impact on how their case evolves. The best way to ensure an accurate account is to call the police to come to the scene so that they can document the accident through a detailed police report. This will also ensure you have the contact information of all the parties involved. Typically, each driver is required to fill out the report, and the officer may then determine who was at fault, issue a citation, or, depending on the circumstances, make an arrest right away.
2. Gather Evidence From the Scene
Any evidence that you can collect from the scene can help you strengthen your case. This includes the contact information and/or statements from any witnesses to the accident. It is also recommended to take clear photos of the scene as well as photos of your physical injuries and accident damage before leaving. The other driver may be too intoxicated to speak with rationally—in that case, just ensure that you get their contact and insurance information from the officer who responds to the crash. You may be asked to repeat what happened several times to insurance representatives, so it is a good idea to have these early pieces of evidence already in hand to back up your statements.
3. Get Immediate Medical Treatment
To be successful in your claim, you will need to prove that you were injured, experienced property damage, or were otherwise harmed as a result of the reckless actions of the other driver. If you’re too hurt to leave your vehicle, you should get medical attention at the scene. However, in many cases, drivers wait until after the accident to seek any medical treatment. You should be seen by a medical professional as soon as possible. You could have internal injuries that may not show symptoms for hours, even days, later. Once you’ve been treated, be sure to obtain a copy of your records to provide to your lawyer. These might include medical evaluations, X-rays, and results from any treatments or procedures that you needed to recover from your injuries.
4. Consult With a Bakersfield Lawyer
After an accident, many people decide to take the first settlement that an insurance company offers—this can result in an underpayment of thousands of dollars. Working with an auto accident lawyer is essential to get the most optimal outcome for your case possible. They know how to deal with the insurance company and can avoid the common mistakes that individuals make when speaking with an insurance representative. If the other driver is found at fault for the wreck, your lawyer will be able to negotiate a settlement on your behalf and represent you in court if necessary. The goal will be to maximize your compensation so that you have the funds you need to move on from the accident.
Getting the Compensation You Deserve
Once you’ve hired a lawyer, they will begin their investigation and procure evidence that the other driver’s intoxication was the cause of the collision. The more evidence that you have for your claim, the better your chances of achieving a favorable outcome. This is where those witness statements, police reports, medical records, and photos will add more credibility to your case. Depending on your individual situation, in the event that the other driver is deemed responsible, you could obtain compensation for:
- Property damage– The cost to repair any vehicular damage you incurred should be added to your claim. Be sure to include estimates or any receipts from an auto repair facility.
- Medical expenses– This involves not only the immediate medical care that you received but also any follow-up visits, physical therapy, or other treatments that you needed to fully recover from the accident.
- Lost income – If you’ve had to take time off work to heal from an injury related to the crash, this should be accounted for in your claim. You may also be able to include future lost income in the event that you experienced a debilitating injury that has reduced your capacity to work at the same level as before the accident.
- Pain and suffering– Some accidents are severe enough to cause victims extreme distress for months, even years. If you are dealing with pain and suffering after your auto accident, consult with your lawyer to see if you might qualify for a claim against the other driver.
Get Legal Representation Today
Are you the victim of a drunk driving accident in the Bakersfield area? The Law Office of Kyle W. Jones can help you pursue compensation from the responsible party. Contact our office today to set up your free, no-obligation consultation.