Drunk driving is one of the leading causes of accidental death in the United States. Every day, nearly 30 people are killed in drunk driving accidents across the country. Hundreds of thousands of people are injured in drunk driving accidents every year. If you were hurt in an accident and you suspect the other driver was intoxicated, there are important steps to take to ensure that your rights are protected and that the drunk driver faces justice. Read on for tips from our experienced New York car accident lawyer about how you should respond to a New York drunk driving accident.
See a Doctor
Your first steps after a drunk driving accident are much the same as with any other accident. If you were seriously injured in the accident, your first priority should be to get to a hospital. Call 911 if you can, or ask someone else to do so for you. You should accept treatment from the emergency responders and take the ambulance ride if you are or may have been seriously hurt.
Even if you were not critically injured, you should see a doctor as soon as possible after the accident. You might have hidden injuries such as internal bleeding or organ damage. Moreover, the sooner you get a diagnosis after your accident, the stronger your legal claims will be. Insurance companies and defense lawyers will use any delay in diagnosis to claim that your injuries did not result from the drunk driving accident and instead could have arisen later.
Get the Driver’s Information
Assuming the drunk driver did not pull a hit-and-run, you should exchange information with the driver at the scene. Collect their insurance policy and phone numbers, driver’s license number, contact information, and license plate number. In case they get skittish and try to leave before the police arrive, you will have their information to track them down later. If they do try to flee the scene immediately, do your best to take a photo of their license plate number or try to memorize it. You may need to ask assistance from witnesses.
Call the Police
Any accident involving injury should be reported to the authorities. If anyone involved needs emergency medical attention, call 911. Even if no one appears seriously hurt, if you suspect the other driver was drunk, there is even more reason to call the police. Do not let the other driver talk you into “leaving the cops out of it” or “avoiding the insurance companies.” You may be dealing with injuries, lost wages, property damage, and medical bills down the line, and when the other driver fails to pay up, you will wish you had an official police report backing up your claim.
Get a Lawyer
If the at-fault driver was drunk at the time of the accident, they are going to do everything they can to defend themselves. They will fear both civil and criminal liability. They might flee the scene or try to downplay their own fault. You need a savvy personal injury lawyer on your side to help you investigate the accident, identify witnesses, collect evidence, build your claims, and maximize your recovery. You can be sure the drunk driver and all relevant insurance companies will have lawyers on their side; you should be well-represented too.
You May Have a Case Even Without a Criminal Conviction
It is important to note that criminal and civil claims are entirely separate. If you have medical bills and other damages resulting from the accident, you can pursue those claims regardless of whether the police choose to charge the at-fault driver with DWI or whether the prosecution is able to make a conviction stick. If they do obtain a DWI conviction, that conviction will certainly be of significant help in your case. However, because criminal conviction requires a higher level of proof (beyond a reasonable doubt), even if the at-fault driver is not charged with drunk driving or is acquitted, you may well still have a case.
Get Help After a New York Drunk Driving Accident
If you or someone you love has been hurt in a drunk driver crash in New York, find out if you’re entitled to money damages for your injuries by contacting the passionate and effective New York car crash lawyers at the Bronx offices of the Kohn Law Firm for a free consultation at 718-409-1200.