Christmas and New Years—the time of “good cheer.” Unfortunately, too often that “cheer” comes in a bottle or a glass and too often it leads to disastrous results. Alcohol, after all, is a depressant—it will make you tired and it will slow down your reaction time. It is no surprise, then, that four out of every ten nationwide traffic fatalities during the holidays involve drunk drivers. But what if you have had the good fortune (if you want to call it that) to have been in a holiday crash with a drunk driver and survived. What steps should you take to protect yourself?
Contact the Authorities
In the aftermath of any motor vehicle accident, you want to contact the police, but it is particularly important to do so when the other driver is intoxicated. If you seek damages in a court of law, the jury will base its ruling on a finding of fault. If you can introduce evidence in court that the other driver was drunk, that is powerful evidence of fault. In addition to the arrest record, you may also have testimony gathered by police officers.
Get Medical Care
Whether you have to leave the scene in an ambulance or are able to drive away under your own power, you want to seek medical care as soon as possible. Often, the most debilitating injuries are the ones you cannot see and that take a couple days to manifest. For example, if you have strained muscles, you may not notice it very much at first, but may be in significant discomfort in a day or two. It is important that you get immediate medical care, that you tell the doctor exactly what happened, and where you feel any pain or discomfort. The longer you wait, the greater the risk that opposing attorneys will argue your injuries were either not severe or were caused by an intervening event.
Identify Potentially Responsible Parties
Often, the biggest challenge after an accident involving a drunk driver is getting compensation for your injuries. It is a fact that many drunk drivers are repeat offenders and are often driving without adequate insurance or without insurance at all. In such a situation, you should look first to your own insurance policy, to determine if you have a rider for “uninsured or underinsured motorists.” Insurance companies are required to offer this in most states, but you should not expect them to tell you that you have coverage—get an attorney to do that for you.
Another potential source of recovery is the person or establishment that served the alcohol. In most states, if the person being served was visibly or obviously intoxicated when served the alcohol, or was served a quantity that would reasonably cause intoxication, the person and/or the establishment may have liability. That can also hold true for social hosts at private parties.
Other potential sources of recovery include:
- There may have been roadway defects that caused the accident
- There may have been defects in your vehicle or the at-fault party’s vehicle that caused the accident
- There may have been wrongdoing by a third party that contributed to the accident
At the law office of Bailey & Galyen, we provide a free initial consultation to every client. To set up an appointment with an experienced Texas Personal Injury Attorney, contact us by e-mail or call our offices at one of the convenient locations listed below. We will take your call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.