Every driver is required by law to act reasonably and protect others on the road. In addition to obeying traffic rules, it’s expected that a driver will not get behind the wheel if they are impaired by drugs or alcohol.
Which is all well and good, but we all know that the laws are there for a reason – far too often, people do drive while intoxicated. There are criminal laws in place to punish people who are caught drinking and driving, but what about anyone who gets hurt by their actions?
In other words, if you’re hit by a drunk driver over the holiday – and there are sure to be plenty of them out there “celebrating” – what are your rights? How can you get help?
One of the best ways to way to get yourself back on your feet and make sure you don’t have to pay for their mistake is to file a personal injury lawsuit. This type of legal claim allows you to hold the drunk driver accountable and ask for damages – money you lost or had to pay due to their negligent actions.
Here’s the good news: when the driver who hit you has been drinking, you already start with a strong case. Pair that with the basic things you need to do following an accident and there is a very good chance that you will be compensated.
The New York Bar Association advises victims to do the following at the scene of the accident.
- Take note of all drivers and passengers involved in the accident.
- Identify all vehicles involved. If possible, also get the insurance companies and policy numbers that cover these vehicles.
- Take photos (on a smartphone, digital camera, or even a traditional camera) of the accident scene and any damage that’s apparent.
- Identify as many witnesses as you possibly can. Try to record their names, addresses, and phone numbers.
- Talk to the police and make sure that an official police report is made regarding the accident. Make a note of the badge numbers and names of the police officers who appear at the scene of the accident.
This is just the beginning, though. There are still numerous things you should do in one of these types of cases, so we’re going to cover those here.
Work with a Good New York Injury Lawyer
Many people opt to just go through insurance if they’re hut in an accident because getting an attorney seems like too much of a hassle. This is a mistake.
If you pursue legal action alone, the other side will do everything in its power to complicate the case, slow it down, and generally make your life difficult until you give up or take a lowball offer from them.
They’ll still do this if you work with an attorney, but at least then you’ll have someone with a clear understanding of New York insurance laws and the limits of New York insurance policies on your side. Our dedicated lawyers have the experience and are committed to protecting your rights by helping understand your situation and empowering you to take legal action against drunk drivers.
Get Your Ducks in a Row
Winning personal injury liability cases involves proving four main things:
- The defendant owed you a duty (i.e., they are required to drive in a safe manner)
- The defendant violated that duty (i.e., they drove drunk, which is not safe)
- As a result of their violation, you were injured (i.e., when they crashed into you, you were injured)
- As a result of your injuries, you suffered losses (i.e., had to pay medical bills, lost work, etc.)
How do you prove these things?
Police reports. Footage from surveillance cameras. Witness accounts. Medical records. Receipts for services. And so on and so forth.
An experienced NY injury lawyer will help you gather and organize all of this information, then lay it out in the way that is most likely to help you win your case.
As mentioned above, if you are hit by a driver who’s under the influence of drugs or alcohol, there’s a very good chance that you’ll get compensation for any injuries caused – but only if you file a personal injury lawsuit.
A knowledgeable lawyer can help you to do this not only by putting together the strongest possible case, but simply by handling the administrative part of taking a legal action. There are specific forms that must be used. Offices that must be contacted.
Your injury attorney will ensure that everything is done according to the law and that no deadlines are missed – something that isn’t a big deal… until it becomes a huge one.
Do Not Settle Right Away
Many people opt for an injury settlement instead of going to trial.
Regardless of the circumstances before, during, and after the accident, you should never opt for a quick settlement. Why? Because it is not a question of whether you will be lowballed, but by how much.
The other driver’s insurer and lawyer will know that you just want this to end, and they will know that you are stressed over mounting medical bills. Anyone would be.
Their way to play on your hopes and fears? Offer you a check to make this all go away.
They may seem friendly, and their offer may even seem generous, but to not accept it without having your lawyer take a look.
Most of the time, waiting is smarter because it gives you more time to fully assess your injuries and the damage caused by the drunk driver. Sometimes injuries that seem like small matters can be revealed as severe upon further inspection. Make sure you know what your costs will really be before agreeing to any settlement.
Understand the Power of a Conviction
Seeking a settlement after the driver has pleaded guilty to or is convicted of DWI or DUI very much puts the ball in your court. In such a case, insurance companies do everything they can to avoid going to trial.
As such, you have better leverage because the insurer will be more inclined to make a handsome injury settlement offer.