Drinking and driving is a fatal but common problem. In fact, a survey by ValuePenguin found that 43% of Americans admitted to driving under the influence of alcohol. The problem is even one alcoholic drink can affect someone’s driving. So what should you do if you are hit by a drunk driver?
This article will discuss what you need to do if you are in a drunk driver accident, drunk driving statistics, and why you should seek legal counsel if you are hit by a drunk driver.
Drunk driver accident statistics
When someone gets behind the wheel intoxicated, they risk their life and the lives of others on the road. Here are some sobering statistics on drunk driver accidents:
- 10,000 people die per year due to drunk driving accidents, according to the National Center for Statistics and Analysis.
- In 2020, the rate of alcohol impairment in drivers was 3.1x higher at night than during the day.
- New Year’s Day is the deadliest day of the year for drunk driving accidents.
- 31% of fatal drunk driving accidents occur on the weekend, according to AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
- Alcohol-impaired driving deaths increased by 14% from 2019 to 2020.
- Intoxicated drivers with a blood alcohol content of .10 or higher are seven times more likely to be involved in a fatal accident than sober drivers.
- Between 2001 and 2010, 2,344 children aged 15 and younger were killed in car accidents involving intoxicated drivers.
Even if someone is going a short distance, there is no excuse for driving while under the influence. However, as you can see, it happens frequently. Let’s discuss what you should do if you are hit by a drunk driver.
6 Things to do if you are hit by a drunk driver
If you are involved in a drunk driver accident, then be sure to take the following steps:
1. Call 911 immediately
The very first thing you should do is call 911. This notifies the proper authorities to be dispatched to help. The most important thing is your safety, but you will need the police to be involved, so the accident is reported accurately.
2. Move to a safe place
If your vehicle is blocking traffic and it’s safe to do so, move it out of the way. Preferably close to where it happened but far enough away to keep you safe from oncoming traffic.
If possible, try to take a picture before you move the vehicles. However, remember to prioritize your safety first.
3. Exchange information
Once you have called the authorities and gotten somewhere safe, exchange information with the other driver. You should get their contact information, such as full name, address, phone number, insurance information, and, if possible, their driver’s license number.
Since smartphones are abundant now, you can take pictures of their insurance card and I.D. to ensure you get the correct information.
One important thing to note is you should refrain from speaking with their insurance provider. You will contact your provider and give them the information, and they will handle the claim for you.
The reason is the other driver’s insurer may try to use what you say against you in the claim. So it’s best to rely on your provider to handle the claim.
What if you are hit by a drunk driver, and they flee the scene?
If the driver fled the scene do not chase them. Try your best to get the license plate number and description of the vehicle to report to the police.
You don’t want to end up in a more dangerous situation. It’s best to stay at the scene and wait for law enforcement to help you.
4. Document the accident
Evidence is essential when it comes to filing a claim and possibly a personal injury lawsuit. Document the drunk driver accident as much as possible. Take videos and pictures, and try to get the contact information for any witnesses at the scene.
If the driver seems intoxicated, take note of that. Ask the police for a copy of the report when they are finished too.
The more proof you can provide for your claim, the better.
5. Get medical assistance if you didn’t go to the hospital
If you are seriously injured, an ambulance will take you to the hospital from the scene. However, if you sustain minor injuries, you should still get medical assistance after the accident. You may have delayed injuries such as whiplash.
Your body releases adrenaline when you are in an accident, which can dull the pain you have at the time. So you may have sustained injuries but will not realize it until later on.
It’s essential you see a doctor as soon as possible to evaluate you for injuries.
6. Seek out a personal injury attorney
Although you don’t have to hire a personal injury attorney, it is wise to do so. There are a lot of factors when it comes to being involved in a car accident and getting the medical and financial assistance you need.
A personal injury attorney can help you every step of the way in your case.
One important thing an experienced attorney can help with is determining fault. You may think if you are hit by a drunk driver, they are automatically to blame, but that isn’t always the case. If you were distracted when the accident occurred, for instance, if you were texting while driving, then they can claim you are partially at fault for the accident.
This is known as comparative negligence. The comparative negligence laws vary by state. For instance, states such as Minnesota enforce modified comparative negligence laws for personal injury cases. This means if the plaintiff is a certain percentage at fault, they can not recover any damages from the other party.
There are two percentage thresholds used for modified comparative negligence: the 50% and 51% bar thresholds. Which is used also depends on which state you reside. If you live in a state that uses the 51% threshold like Minnesota, and you are found 51% or more at fault, you are not entitled to any compensation for damages.
That’s why seeking legal counsel is vital if you are hit by a drunk driver.
Why you should consult with an attorney even in a “No-Fault” state
A no-fault state means that no matter who is at fault for a car accident, each driver is responsible for their own damages. These states require you to carry what is called Personal Injury Protection coverage. So your insurance provider would pay whatever damages you incur in an accident.
Things get a bit complicated when it comes to filing a personal injury suit in a no-fault state like Minnesota. No fault laws can prevent you from filing a claim even if you are in a drunk driver accident. However, in certain circumstances, you may be able to file a personal injury claim.
For example, if you suffer a serious injury and your medical costs exceed the cost threshold of your policy, then you can file a lawsuit. Another reason to seek legal counsel is you may have the ability to file a lawsuit against the establishment that served the driver.
Minnesota is one of the forty-three states that have enacted the “Dram Shop Law.” This law allows those that suffer injury from a drunk driver to sue the bar, restaurant, or individual that provided the alcohol to the individual that caused your injuries.
Although you live in a no-fault state, you should still have your case evaluated by an experienced personal injury attorney.
Contact Hoglund Law if you were in a drunk driver accident!
Were you hit by a drunk driver and not sure if you have a personal injury case? You can get a free immediate case evaluation right here at Hoglund Law. We will review your case and direct you in the right direction.
Our attorneys have over 70 years of combined experience and are 100% dedicated to fighting for the settlement you deserve. If you are worried about the expense, you will be relieved to know that you will pay nothing unless we win.
Contact Hoglund Law today for your free consultation!