We have all heard about the dangers of DUI (Driving Under the Influence). A DUI will cause more than a headache, leading to Court costs and fines, license suspension, jail time and higher insurance costs. Driving under the influence can also lead to vehicle collisions, causing serious injury and death.
Drunk driving is the number one cause of death on the roadway in the U.S. Statistically someone is injured in a drunk driving crash every 2 minutes and killed in an alcohol related wreck every 50 minutes. Here in the state of Washington, there were over 8,000 alcohol related wrecks just last year. Alcohol is not the only cause of impaired driving. Prescription and recreational drugs cause impaired driving as well. So, what should you do if you are involved in a car wreck with a driver who is impaired?
Report the Wreck
The first thing you should do is to report the wreck to the police department. Medical aid should be requested if there are any serious injuries. Reporting the wreck helps to ensure the wreck is documented. Understandably, those involved in the wreck may be shaken up and not thinking clearly, leading to inaccurate memories concerning the wreck. The responding officer will also determine who was at fault and why (driving under the influence). The police report helps to identify the parties involved and provides insurance and licensing information. Additionally, reporting the wreck can be very helpful when filing an insurance claims because many insurance companies request or even require a police report to file a claim.
Most people have a cell phone these days and most phones have a camera. If you don’t have a cell phone, borrow one and take pictures. Be sure to take pictures of the damage to all vehicles involved, license plates of all vehicles and also of the individuals involved in the wreck. The police report does not always give an accurate description of the damage to the vehicles. Additionally, one vehicle may be more damaged than another, which is often used to argue that the wreck was “minor” or “not that bad”. While on the scene of the wreck may be the only opportunity you have to take pictures of all vehicles so do not miss this opportunity. If you cannot take the pictures yourself, ask a passenger or bystander to take them if possible. Lastly, if no officer arrives to make a report, be sure to take pictures of the driver’s licenses and insurance cards of all other drivers involved in the wreck.
Talk to an Attorney
Finally, speak to an attorney about your case. Often times a representative from an insurance company will contact you quickly seeking information, wishing to take a recorded statement (which can be used against you later) and even trying to settle claims for a fraction of the value. The insurance representative is not looking out for your best interest but is simply trying to resolve claims quickly and cheaply. Also, the insurance companies deal with automobile wrecks every day, while the rest of us only deal with them a time or two in our entire lives. Insurance companies are experienced and know the laws, you should too. Contact an attorney soon after a wreck to find out what rights you have and what steps you can take to protect yourself.
Be careful on the roads and please do not drive impaired, but if you are injured by an impaired driver protect your rights. We at Palace Law help individuals involved in collisions daily. Contact Palace Law if you’ve been injured by an impaired driver.