A car accident can happen literally in the blink of an eye. For those injured in an accident, although the collision can occur in seconds or less, the episode can seem to be in slow motion because of the body’s fight-or-flight reaction. Time can seem to slow down.
Alarmingly, federal agencies report that personal injury, including fatalities, from an accident caused by a motorist above the legal blood alcohol limit extends beyond the passengers in the car driven by the drunk driver. Those facing injury include a driver and passengers of a vehicle struck by the drunk driver and bicyclists, motorcyclists, and pedestrians.
What transpires after an accident with a drunk driver can have lasting consequences. Drivers who have been in any type of car accident should reach out to an experienced lawyer.
Drunk Driving Effects Everyone
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that in 2014 there were 111,000,000 self-reported incidents from drunk driving. Yet only one percent of this number were actually arrested for driving drunk.
The toll for victims of drunk drivers is staggering. Approximately 30 people die each day, one every 50 minutes. Another 800 are injured each day.
The economic cost is some $44 billion a year.
The tally of fatalities and injuries is frightening, even though these numbers have declined in the past five years. No amount of money can replace lives lost or the struggles the survivors face to recover from these crashes.
The physics involved should be considered. If a victim is in another car, the impact from one car crashing into another is a multiple of how fast both vehicles are going. If the victim is a bicyclist or a pedestrian, there is only the impact of the car coming into contact with them. If the victim is on a motorcycle, there is no structural protection to cushion the force of the collision.
The victims are not only those injured but include their family members, co-workers, and friends.
Motorists with a blood alcohol content (BAC) above .08 are considered legally drunk.
Age groups that are most likely to drive drunk are as follows: Of those ages 21 to 24, 27 percent; ages 25 to 34, 25 percent; and ages 35 to 44, 21 percent. These percentages are clearly considerable. Basically, anywhere from one-fifth to one-quarter of drivers in these age ranges have driven with a BAC level above the legal limit.
No motorist is capable of drinking too much and then driving. Although some drivers believe they can drive after having a few drinks, the facts show the opposite: deceased responsiveness.
What to do When Injured by a Drunk Driver
If a person is injured or their vehicle sustains property damages because of the actions of another person who is intoxicated and driving, the victim has rights and responsibilities.
Rights of the victim. Recovery for injuries such medical costs and economic losses is done via the insurance company for the driver/vehicle owner. Some policies allow the policyholder to sue in addition to the no-fault benefits. Every driver and vehicle owner has to know the different insurance coverage they have selected.
If the drunk driver has their own insurance, a victim may be able to file a claim under that policy.
If there is no insurance or the insurance amounts are below the victim’s damages, the victim may be able to make a claim under their own policy or sue.
Each accident has its own set of facts. This includes insurance coverage and recovery beyond any policy. This is where an experienced, qualified, and caring lawyer enters the picture to consult with the victim, gather evidence, and provide guidance and any legal options.
Responsibilities of the victim. If someone is injured by a drunk driver, there are some steps the victim should take.
It is important to obtain all the information, including driver’s license number, registration name and number, and insurance company number and policy number, as one would do in any other vehicular accident.
If the other driver or their passenger is visibly intoxicated, that should be noted. Even better, if there is another witness, that person can be asked to access the apparently drunk driver’s condition.
If anyone is injured, depending on their condition, call 911 or for an ambulance or EMT. If the injury is minor, remain on the scene until help comes. It is important to remember that vehicular injuries can have delayed symptoms that develop or increase in severity after the accident. If those appear, immediately seek medical attention.
Drivers should gather any information about the accident. Take photos on a cell phone. Ask if there are witnesses and get their names and phone numbers. Look around for any remote cameras that may have footage of the accident.
It is important to cooperate with the police. Complete an accident report for filing with the police. If the officer on scene does not ask for it, go to the police station later that day to file an accident report. The details of an accident report can be critical for a lawyer who represents a victim.
If the vehicles are damaged at the scene and are impeding traffic, consider moving the damaged vehicles off the road. If a car is not operable or if the victim cannot operate it, leave the car where it is.
Victims should contact a lawyer because the next step involves the insurance company. If the victim is blameless for the accident, contact the insurance agent as soon as possible. If there are any issues or questions, it may be better to speak with a lawyer first and then follow directions as to reporting the accident to an insurance company.
Finally, it is important to review photos of the scene, including those of inside the other car’s interior and any liquor or beer bottles/containers. More photos should be taken if necessary. If an officer is present at the scene, ask if more photos can be taken and if the officer is taking photos.
Hazlet Car Accident Lawyers at Mikita & Roccanova Fight for the Rights of Victims of Car Accidents Caused by Drunk Drivers
If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident caused by a drunk driver, reach out to the Hazlet car accident lawyers at Mikita & Roccanova. We help victims by determining liable parties and ensuring victims receive the compensation they need and deserve. Call us at 732-705-3363 or contact us online today to schedule a free consultation. Located in Hazlet and Highland Park, New Jersey, we serve clients in Ocean County and Sussex County, and Pennsylvania.