Per the CDC, over 1 million drivers were arrested for driving while intoxicated or high. That only counts arrests. In 2014’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 111 million drivers admitted they’d driven while impaired.
According to the Office of Highway Policy Information, there were 214 million licensed drivers in 2014. Theoretically, it means almost half of them admitted they’d driven while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The problem is that those admitting to DUI in the surveys may not all be licensed drivers.
The bottom line is that every time you get behind the wheel, ride a bike, or take a walk, there is a strong chance you’ll encounter an impaired driver. Some of those encounters will lead to a collision. You need to know what to do if that happens.
What Do You Do If You’re in a Crash With a Drunk or Impaired Driver?
The moment the vehicle stops moving, you need to assess your injuries. You may be unconscious and unable to do this. If you’re alert, don’t assume you’re fine just because you feel no pain. Shock and adrenaline can buffer the pain you feel at that moment. As they go away, you may discover just how badly you’re hurting.
Did you hit your head? Did the dashboard push in on a knee or torso? It’s often better to stay still until paramedics arrive and assess you. You don’t want to get out of your vehicle and cause further injury. Paramedics can put you in a neck brace to support and protect your spine.
Don’t talk to the other driver about the accident beyond swapping insurance information. If you’re out of your car and are feeling okay, you can take photos of the scene, damage to the vehicles and surrounding property, VIN plates, and license plates. If you notice drug paraphernalia or bottles/cans in the other driver’s car, get those photos, too.
If there are witnesses, get their information at the same time. This helps your insurance agent with the claims process. The witnesses don’t have to tell you what they saw at that moment. They’ll do that with the police and with the insurance company. You only need their contact information.
Even if you feel fine, if the paramedics recommend that you go to the hospital, do so. The ambulance ride is going to be covered by automobile insurance as will the medical bills. It’s always best to have a professional look you over for internal injuries, spine and neck injuries, and a concussion. You’ve also got medical instructions you can refer to if you experience more pain a few days later.
Call your insurance company as soon as you can. They will likely call the other driver’s insurance company for you, which helps get the claims process started.
With a drunk driver, police will investigate the crash. Make sure you ask for a copy of the police report and photos. If you see any incorrect or questionable information, ask for clarification or correction. If you have proof the information is correct, the officer can change the report without any hassle.
How Fair is the Insurance Company’s Settlement?
Insurance companies are bound by laws when it comes to settlements. In Colorado, the insurance company must use a reasonable and consistent method for determining the value of the damaged or totaled vehicle. It has to consider any special features your vehicle has. The company can use several sources to get estimates, but they cannot do this if the goal is to find the lowest possible price. That helps protect you from low-ball vehicle estimates.
There are things that are harder to estimate. If you’re having anxiety attacks following your accident, there are bills for any psychological counseling or medications you’re taking, but it’s hard to value the effect anxiety has on your daily life. Some days are harder than others. This is something the settlement offer won’t always take into consideration, which can make the settlement offer seem unfair.
Under no means should you settle with the insurance company when a drunk driver has impacted your life. Before you agree to any settlement offer, talk to the Denver personal injury attorneys at Jordan Law. The settlement offer may provide enough money to replace your car and your loss of income, but what about the emotional impact?
With a free consultation, it costs nothing to learn your options. Call Jordan Law at (303) 647-3026 or access the online chat by clicking the green chat button. We’ll tell you if the settlement offer you’ve received is fair or if you’re entitled to more than they’re offering.