One of the best things about the holiday season is that it gives us an opportunity to socialize with one another. Many holiday hosts serve alcohol. Sadly, the combination of alcohol and parties leads to an increase in drunken driving. In 2018, drunk drivers caused roughly half of the traffic fatalities on both Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.
As we head into the height of the holiday season, motorists should be on the lookout for drunken drivers. This blog post provides advice on what to do if you are hit by a drunk driver.
Why is Drunk Driving So Dangerous?
As I noted in a prior blog post, drunk driving is a serious matter. Alcohol affects the skills drivers need to operate their vehicles safely, such as:
– Reaction times.
These effects can occur after just a few drinks. A recent study found that drivers with any amount of alcohol in their blood are seven times more likely than sober drivers to be involved in a crash. Those operating vehicles over the legal blood alcohol limit are 13 times more likely to cause a crash. In fact, the severity of the crash – and the injuries – increases as the driver’s blood alcohol level increases.
Drunk drivers pose great risks to others. Experts note that accidents involving drunk drivers not only cause more fatalities, but they also cause more severe injuries than those involving sober drivers.
What Are the Chances of Being Hit by a Drunk Driver?
While the number of drunk driving crashes has greatly decreased since the 1980s, driving under the influence remains a serious problem. In 2019 alone, police arrested over one million drunk drivers. Overall, experts estimate that one out of every three Americans will be involved in a drunk driving crash at some point in their lifetime.
The situation is similar in Alabama. Sadly, experts rank Alabama as one of the worst states for intoxicated driving. A recent compilation found that while Alabama has fewer drunk driving arrests than many states, the state also has far more drunk driving fatalities than other states.
What to Do if You Are Hit by a Drunk Driver
In general, if you are involved in a DUI accident, you should follow the same steps that you would in any other accident. However, after a drunk driving accident, you should also take the following steps:
– Call 911.
You should call 911 after any accident. But calling the police after a DWI crash is particularly important. Drunk driving is a crime in Alabama. Calling the police alerts them to this crime.
– Get information about the other driver’s car immediately.
Drunk drivers are far more likely than other drivers to leave the scene of a crash. Make note of the color and make of the other car. Look for the license plate. Try to take pictures or video as soon as you are able. This way, if the driver flees, you’ll have some way to locate them.
– Make note of the other driver’s condition.
Observe as much as you can about how the other driver is behaving. Look out for the smell of alcohol, open containers, slurred words, an unsteady gait, and other markers of intoxication. If you see any of these, tell the police, the insurance company, and your personal injury attorney.
– Listen for clues as to where they got the alcohol.
Pay attention to the where the driver says he or she is coming from. Alabama law says that businesses and party hosts that serve alcohol can be liable for damages under certain circumstances.
– Be prepared to go to criminal court.
As noted above, drunk driving is a crime. So, in addition to any legal matters concerning your injuries, you may also have to testify in court if the drunken driver is arrested and charged.
Can You Sue if You are Hit by a Drunk Driver?
In a word, “Yes.”
All Alabama drivers must carry a certain amount of insurance. Currently, drivers must carry a policy that covers $25,000 worth of bodily injury protection per person, $50,000 worth of bodily injury per accident, and $25, 000 worth of property damage per accident.
If you are hit by a drunk driver and your injuries or property damage exceed the amounts of the other driver’s insurance coverage, you can sue the intoxicated driver for the difference. For example, if the other driver has the minimum coverage and causes you $100,000 in injuries and $30,000 in property damage, you can sue for $55,000.
Note that if the other driver is prosecuted for driving under the influence, you don’t have to wait for the criminal proceedings to finish to file your claim. An experienced accident attorney can help you with this process.
More Questions About Driving Under the Influence?
Drunk driving is a serious issue. Hopefully, this article has helped you understand a bit more about what to do if you are hit by a drunk driver. If you have questions about drunk driving accidents, trucking accidents, or any other type of accident, contact Collins Law, LLC. Our injury attorneys fight for the injured every day. Call 205-588-1411 or click here to schedule a free consultation.