Drunk drivers cause about 40 percent of deadly car accidents in Illinois. While every driver knows that drunk driving is not only illegal but extremely dangerous, impaired people continue to get behind the wheel every single day. Drunk driving increases during the holidays along with drunk driving accidents and injuries, so all people need to know what to do in the event that they are the victims of drunk driving crashes.
First, when you encounter a driver after a crash, make note of any signs of intoxication, including:
- Slurred words
- Bloodshot or watery eyes
- A “glossed-over” look
- Stumbling or other balance problems
- The odor of alcohol
Sometimes, intoxication is glaringly obvious, while in others, you may not know. If you even suspect that an impaired driver caused your accident, follow these steps to help protect your rights.
1.Call the police – If a driver seems intoxicated after an accident, call the police. Law enforcement officers can arrive on the scene and investigate. They often do so through their own observations, field sobriety tests, or even roadside breathalyzer tests. If they have probable cause to believe that the driver violated Illinois law, they can arrest the driver and a prosecutor can issue charges of driving under the influence (DUI). A criminal conviction not only helps your subsequent personal injury claim but can also deter the driver from harming others in the future.
2.Do not confront anyone – Anger is a natural reaction to a drunk driver who injured you or a family member and disrupted your life. Always remain calm, however, and never make your own accusations known while waiting for the police. Alcohol can make some people unpredictable or combative, and your safety should come first. In addition, if you make it known that you called the police because you thought the driver was drunk, the driver may flee the scene of the accident. That could make holding the driver accountable more difficult for you.
3.Speak with witnesses – Make sure you talk to those who saw the accident and stopped to help. First, get contact information so your attorney can interview them later. Furthermore, see if they have the same observations regarding the drunk driver as you do. Maybe a witness saw the driver going the wrong way or swerving, indicating intoxication. They can also corroborate any observations of intoxication at the scene of the crash while you wait. Witnesses can often play important roles in helping you receive compensation for your losses.
4.Seek medical attention – If you think a drunk driver caused your accident, you may get wrapped up in your emotions and may not properly address your own physical state. Take note whether you feel any type of pain anywhere on your body or whether you feel disoriented or otherwise different than usual. Some injuries may make themselves immediately apparent, so you may know that you need medical help. Others, however, may simply seem like the aftermath of a traumatic event when you actually have soft tissue injuries or a concussion. Go to the emergency department, urgent care, or to your doctor as soon as you can after any type of crash.
5.Talk to an attorney – If you believe a drunk driver caused your accident, immediately speak with a law firm that regularly handles this type of case. Drunk driving is a criminal offense, and you should hold drivers who wrongfully cause accidents in this manner accountable for any damage they caused. A criminal case will help little in covering your medical bills and other accident-related losses. Instead, you must pursue such compensation through a civil case, which the help of the right attorney can make far less complex and challenging.
An attorney can start by reviewing what happened as well as any subsequent police reports or criminal records regarding the driver. We can then use that information to file an insurance claim with the driver’s policy. Even though you may clearly know that the drunk driver caused the crash, the insurance company can still try to fight liability and require evidence to back up your claims. In addition, you want to make sure that an attorney has reviewed the value of your claim, because many accident victims don’t know how many losses they have really incurred.
Sometimes, an attorney can negotiate to obtain an insurance payout that covers all of your medical bills and lost income from the accident. If an insurance settlement will not adequately cover your losses—which is usually the case if the crash seriously injured you—you will need your attorney to pursue a civil claim against the driver. This is completely separate from the driver’s criminal case, with different proceedings and procedures.
You may feel as if a drunk driver should automatically have to pay for your injuries and losses. In reality, you need to hire a lawyer with particular experience in litigating drunk driving accident claims to navigate the complicated process of obtaining that compensation. Always have the right legal team on your side protecting your rights as a drunk driving accident victim.
Consult With a Chicago Car Accident Attorney for Free Today
The Chicago auto accident lawyers at Abels & Annes represent clients who were injured by drunk drivers or other negligent parties. We will handle every step of a case and always seek the maximum amount of compensation for each client. If you want to discuss whether you have a case for free, please call (312) 924-7575 or contact us online today.