The State of Georgia has strict laws against driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol due to the extreme safety risks of drunk driving. While you might hear about drunk drivers injuring others, you might not imagine that this type of accident could happen to you. However, if you are hit by a drunk driver, you should know what to expect, and you should not wait to seek help from the Atlanta car accident lawyers at Spaulding Injury Law right away.
How Impaired Driving Crashes Happen
In a recent year, police officers in Georgia arrested more than 23,500 people for driving under the influence. Unfortunately, police cannot catch every drunk driver before they cause crashes, and impaired driving was cited as the cause of thousands of injuries and 375 deaths in Georgia in 2018. These crashes accounted for nearly 25 percent of fatal car accidents in our state that year.
Drunk driving is a major safety issue because alcohol impairment can cause drivers to crash in many different ways. The following are some ways that impaired driving accidents happen:
- The drunk driver misjudges the distance between them and another vehicle
- The driver cannot stay in their own lane and might swerve into another lane and hit another car
- A driver might turn the wrong way on a highway or one-way street, resulting in a head-on collision
- Impaired judgment might lead a driver to speed excessively and crash
- The driver might not notice a vehicle stopped or slowing down in front of them and might rear-end the car
These are only some of the many ways that drunk driving can lead to a serious collision that injures others.
At the Scene of the Crash
Sometimes, it can be obvious that the driver who hit your car is intoxicated. They might stumble out of the car or slur their words, leading you to believe they have been drinking. In this situation, it is important not to confront the driver or show your anger at them, as intoxicated people can be aggressive and might cause you additional harm.
Instead, make sure to call 911 so that emergency responders arrive as soon as possible. Emergency medical technicians can check out your physical condition and advise whether you need emergency transportation. In addition, police officers should report to the scene, especially if you relayed your suspicions of drunk driving to 911 dispatch.
Part of an officer’s job following a crash is to determine whether one or more drivers violated the law in some way, and this certainly includes driving under the influence. If an officer believes that the driver might be intoxicated, they can perform breathalyzer or field sobriety tests. If they have probable cause to believe the driver is in violation of the law, they will likely place the drunk driver under arrest, which might help your injury claim down the road.
Getting Medical Treatment
If EMTs recommend an ambulance ride, it is wise to listen to the professionals. Even if they do not take you in an ambulance, however, it might be necessary for you to head to the emergency room as soon as you are finished at the accident scene. Some injuries might not need emergency transportation, but getting a timely diagnosis is still important.
Having a doctor diagnose your injuries right away after a drunk driving crash has two main benefits:
- Making sure that you receive the necessary treatment to minimize complications and stabilize your condition
- Creating a record of your injuries that connects them to the accident, which can help a future injury claim
You might feel stiff or sore but might be unsure whether this is “normal” or due to injuries. Always err on the safe side and get a medical evaluation, as injuries like concussions or soft tissue injuries can be difficult for you to identify without professional testing.
Once you have a treatment plan from medical professionals, make sure that you follow it, as failing to do so can jeopardize your claim. If you miss appointments or forego certain recommended treatment, the insurance company will likely argue that your injuries are less serious than you state they are.
Proving Your Injury Claim
In many cases, drunk drivers who get arrested will then face criminal charges, and they might be convicted of DUI. You can obtain the police report and other court records to use this conviction to prove the driver was automatically negligent, and you would not need additional evidence of negligence. Even if a driver is not convicted, however, the right attorney can use other evidence to prove impaired driving and liability. A conviction of DUI can help the insurance claim or lawsuit process move along faster in many situations.
What Happens if the Drunk Driver Fled the Scene?
It is all too common for drunk drivers to flee the scene of an accident to try to avoid being arrested and charged with DUI. This can be an even more stressful situation for accident victims, though you have options.
First, always report the accident immediately and provide the police with any information you have about the vehicle, driver description, license plate, and other identifying factors. Witnesses who saw the crash might also have valuable information that helps the police find the driver.
Even if the driver is not located, you still might have sources of financial recovery if you have uninsured motorist (UM) insurance. If you need to file a UM claim, you still want legal assistance, even though the claim is with your own insurance company. Even your own insurer can use tactics to limit claims, and you want to make sure you obtain compensation that covers the full value of your claim.
Learn More About How Our Atlanta Car Accident Lawyers Can Help
After a drunk driving crash, you want to have the Atlanta car accident lawyers of Spaulding Injury Law on your side. We provide aggressive representation for our clients, so please call (770) 744-0890 or contact us online for your free consultation.