Drunk driving is a major problem, and many people are injured in car accidents involving drunk drivers each year. Since driving under the influence of alcohol can severely affect a person's decision making capabilities and the ability to safely operate an automobile, car accidents caused by a drunk driver can be quite severe, and the victims hit by a drunk driver can experience very serious injuries or even die due to injuries caused by the crash. If you have been injured in a car accident involving a drunk driver, take the following steps:
Don't Communicate with the Drunk Driver's Insurance Company
When a car accident is caused by a drunk driver and involves serious injuries to other parties, insurance companies are often eager to offer a settlement. This is because accepting a settlement from the insurance company requires you to sign a release of liability, meaning that you can't file an additional claim or a lawsuit in the future. In the days following the car accident, it is best to avoid speaking with the drunk driver's insurance company and just focus on your recovery.
Hire an Experienced Car Accident Attorney
One of the best things you can do after being injured in a car accident with a drunk driver is hire a highly experienced car accident attorney. In the majority of cases, a car accident attorney does not require any retainer or upfront fees from you. Instead, he or she will receive a percentage of your settlement. An attorney will understand the extent of your injuries and know what your claim should be worth, and he or she won't accept a low-ball offer from the drunk driver's insurance company.
Refer the Insurance Company to Your Attorney
After hiring a car accident attorney to represent you, request that the drunk driver's insurance company communicate solely through your legal counsel. Your attorney will know how to file a claim with the insurance company, collect evidence and build your case, and negotiate on your behalf to get the monetary settlement that you deserve. Having an attorney can take a lot of the stress out of reaching a settlement with the drunk driver's insurance company.
Understand the Difference Between Criminal and Civil Lawsuit
In the case of a car accident due to one driver being impaired by alcohol, the driver who was drinking and driving will have a criminal case and potentially a civil lawsuit. While you may be asked to give a statement or testify in court, the criminal lawsuit has nothing to do with your financial settlement-- it is solely to establish innocence or guilt and to assign a sentence if a person is found guilty. In the event that the drunk driver's insurance company does not want to give you a fair settlement, your attorney may file a civil lawsuit as well, and the case will go to court.
For more information and help if you've been in an accident caused by a drunk driver, contact a law firm in your area, such as Clearfield & Kofsky.