Driving drunk dramatically increases your risk of being in an accident. And unfortunately, driving sober won’t protect you from other drunk drivers on the road. If you’re involved in an accident with a drunk driver, there are several steps you’ll need to take to protect yourself, physically recover, and get the financial compensation you deserve.
Preventing Drunk Driving Accidents
Despite decades of highly publicized studies proving the dangers of drinking and driving, drunk driving accidents remain common.
- Remain sober. This should be an obvious tip, but it’s all too commonly neglected. There is never a good reason to drink and drive. If you’ve had any alcohol in the recent past, your best bet is to get a ride home with someone else, stay the night, or call a taxi or ridesharing service. Even if you feel sober, alcohol may be impairing your judgment, inhibitions, and reaction time, putting you and others in jeopardy.
- Avoid erratic drivers. Not all drunk drivers are easy to spot, but when most people drink, it shows. Inebriated drivers are frequently seen swerving between lanes, rapidly adjusting their speed, and reacting slowly to the stimuli around them. If you see a driver like this, do what you can to distance yourself from them – even if that means pulling off the road temporarily.
- Stay aware of your surroundings. Always pay attention to your surroundings. You may have the green light, but that’s not a guarantee that cross traffic is going to stop (as they’re legally obligated to). Drunk drivers often ignore the rules of the road and behave in erratic ways, so it’s up to you to keep an eye out for them.
- Be extra cautious during peak hours. Drunk driving accidents can happen at any time, but peak hours tend to be between midnight and 3 am. If you find yourself driving during these hours, exercise additional caution.
What to Do Immediately
If you are the unfortunate victim of a drunk driver, there are some important steps you’ll need to take immediately:
- Get to safety. Your number one priority is getting to safety. If you remain in the road, or if you’re vulnerable in any way, you’ll run the risk of injuring yourself further (or even dying). If you’re in a car and it’s drivable, pull to the side of the road. Otherwise, get to a sidewalk or behind a median as quickly as possible.
- Gather evidence. If you can, start gathering evidence. If you need to collect insurance money or sue for damages in the future, evidence is going to be key to your success. If you have a dash cam, review and back up the footage. If not, take photos and videos of the scene of the accident – including the car, its license plates, the driver and passenger, and any damage that was done.
- File a report. No matter what, you should file a police report about the accident. Police reports serve as formal documentation of the accident and will gather many details of the accident in one place. It’s going to serve an important purpose in any legal or financial disputes you’ll face in the future, so take the time to ensure its accuracy.
- Seek medical help. Even if you feel relatively uninjured, it’s a good idea to get medical attention. Car accidents can take a toll on you, even if you don’t feel much pain initially. This is your chance to get fully reviewed by a medical professional.
After the Accident
In the days and weeks following your accident, there are some important additional steps to take.
- Take your recovery seriously. Your physical recovery is vital, so don’t skimp on this process. Attend your follow-up appointments and follow all your doctors’ advice. Don’t worry too much about the money; you’ll be entitled to compensation for these costs, provided you have a good attorney and ample evidence.
- Document everything you can. Throughout your recovery process, keep detailed records of everything. Get proof of your attendance at medical appointments and receipts for all your payments. If your injuries prevent you from working, document that too. You may need this hard evidence in the future.
- Talk to an attorney. Finally, spend some time talking to an attorney. It may not be in your best interest to sue the other driver, but your lawyer will be able to help you figure out the pros and cons. Whether you negotiate, sue, or take other action, you’ll have a better chance of winning full compensation.
It’s not fair to end up the victim of a reckless, drunk driver. But there are some steps you can take to reduce your chances of being involved in this type of accident – and steps you can take to recover fully and be properly compensated.