5 Critical Steps to Take Following a Drunk Driving Accident
Denver accident attorney Mack Babcock discusses the course of action in the aftermath of drunk driving accidents.
Being in a car crash can be a terrifying and painful experience. The situation becomes exponentially worse if you’re the victim of an accident caused by a drunk driver. While you’re busy dealing with the pain of being in the accident, you must also deal with doctors and other appointments to help you recover both physically and monetarily.
If you have been involved in a car accident caused by a drunk driver, there are 5 critical steps (besides enlisting the help of an auto accident attorney) to ensure you protect your rights and ultimately receive the compensation you need.
The first 3 steps apply immediately following the collision, while the last 2 apply to your treatment/recovery period.
1. Stop and remain at the scene
The first thing to do after your vehicle has come to a stop is remain calm so you can appropriately assess the situation. Make sure you don’t leave the accident scene unless it poses a safety risk.
After you’ve assisted any passengers who are in immediate danger, call 911 and ask for police assistance.
Note: Most auto insurance companies require you to contact the police and will sometimes deny claims that don’t have an official report.
2. Take photographs
Next, take photos and videos of the accident scene that show any specific hazards that may have led to the crash. These photos can be used as evidence by your attorney and insurance company to establish fault and should include the following:
- Weather conditions
- The layout of the intersection and highway
- The existence and type of signs and traffic signals
- Any objects that could affect drivers’ visibility
- Any outside factors that could have caused the crash (like construction work)
Photos of any visible injuries are also very valuable in a claim against the at-fault party. If you’re able, try to get clear pictures of any injuries sustained in the collision before going to the hospital.
Moreover, these photos may help an accident reconstruction expert testify about how or why the collision took place.
3. Identify and obtain witnesses information
The police will take down the personal information of those at the scene, yes, but it’s also important for you to gather your own eyewitness information because the police will be busy at the accident scene and could miss an important witness.
Write down their names and contact information and ask them if they’re willing to quickly jot down what they saw, as memories tend to fade over time.
4. Obtain and keep copies of medical and repair costs and lost wages
In order to demonstrate economic damages, you (or your attorney) will need to gather all invoices and receipts that show the cost of your medical care, property damage and lost wages.
Accident victims often forget that items like prescription drugs, orthopedic devices, medical supplies and transportation for doctor’s appointments are eligible for compensation, so include these too.
It’s easier to obtain documentation as you receive the medical care or otherwise incur expenses and lost time from work than it is to attempt to collect these records after the fact. So it’s best to record all the details of your treatment and expenses in a notebook as they happen.
5. Attend all legal hearings and the trial for the drunk driver
It’s extremely important to provide evidence and testimony at hearings, trials or other proceedings where the drunk driver faces prosecution. This includes being present during traffic court and criminal court if the drunk driver faces criminal charges (like negligent homicide in some cases).
While you don’t need the defendant to be found guilty in criminal court to obtain compensation through a civil lawsuit (personal injury claim), it can help establish their negligence, so it’s always best to participate in the proceedings when possible.
Contact a Colorado car accident attorney
If you’ve been involved in an automobile accident caused by a drunk driver, do not delay. Due to the statute of limitations and other legal technicalities, delaying too long can put your claim at risk or reduce your compensation.
In addition, you can also download our comprehensive (PDF) Colorado Car Accident Guide for an all-in-one guide about car collisions, proving fault, obtaining compensation and much more.