Hit By A Drunk Driver, What Should I Do Next?

This Georgia legal resource is provided by The Millar Law Firm, Georgia lawyers who specialize in helping the victims of drunk driving accidents.

Key Points:

  • After you have received medical attention, your next step should be to contact the police department and request a copy of the accident report.
  • To put together a strong case, you or a personal injury car accident lawyer may need to conduct an independent accident investigation.
  • Investigation of a drunk driver may involve conducting background checks of the at-fault driver, obtaining the prosecutor’s file, gathering all video evidence, and hiring a toxicologist or reconstruction expert.
  • DUI accident injury victims have two years to file a claim, but in some cases Georgia’s statute of limitations may be extended.

Do I “Really” Need to Hire A Lawyer Who Specializes in Drunk Driving Accidents?

If you or someone you love has been hit by a drunk driver in Georgia, you may be wondering if you should hire a lawyer who specializes in drunk driving accidents. It seems simple. You or a family member were hit by a drunk driver. Why would you need to hire a lawyer?

DUI accidents are different than other types of car or truck accidents. The drunk driver will most likely hire or be given a court-appointed lawyer who will fight to get the charges dismissed. Although a driver may be charged with DUI, you will still want to prove that the driver was intoxicated, less safe and was under the influence of drugs or alcohol in your civil case.

You will want to gather all of the available evidence, such as 911 recordings, police body and patrol car camera recordings, eyewitness statements, breathalyzer and toxicologic reports, and evidence from the vehicles. You will also want to investigate whether the drunk driver has been charged with or convicted of DUI in the past.

Some of this evidence is readily-available under Georgia’s open records laws. However, if there are charges pending against the intoxicated driver, you may be waiting months or years before law enforcement or the prosecutor’s office is willing or able to share their evidence with you. This can mean doing your own investigation.

And because drunk or drugged driving is irresponsible and dangerous behavior, drunk driving cases often have a higher settlement or verdict potential than ‘regular’ car accident cases. However, insurance companies are likely to offer less on these cases unless you are represented by an injury lawyer who knows how to obtain and present the special types of evidence that add value to DUI accident claims and lawsuits.

Protect Your Financial Position After A Georgia Drunk Driving Crash

Protecting yourself and your financial future will hinge upon the legal steps that you take after sustaining injuries in an accident caused by a drunk driver. Although you can certainly handle the case on your own, an experienced DUI accident lawyer can help you discover evidence that may be difficult to locate on your own, such as: The at-fault driver’s criminal history, toxicology reports, access to accident reconstruction experts, and working with your doctors to prove the severity of your injuries.

Can you do these things on your own? Of course. But DUI cases are serious business, and in many cases the driver who hit you may have multiple DUI convictions. If so, your case may include the ability to recover enhanced or additional damages.

If you decide to DIY and not hire a car accident lawyer, the information listed below may be helpful:

Subtitle: Drunk Driving in Georgia

According to the Georgia Annual Health Measures 2013 report, unintentional injuries, such as those caused in drunk driving accidents, are one of the leading causes of death and premature death in Georgia. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and MADD both state that:

  • Alcohol-impaired driving fatalities in Georgia were responsible for 297, or 25.2 percent, of the state’s 1,179 traffic-related deaths in 2013.
  • In turn, drunk driving fatalities cost an estimated $1.4 billion dollars a year in taxpayer subsidies.
  • Out of Georgia’s 1,179 fatalities caused by vehicle-related accidents in 2013, 35 percent had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.01 or more.
  • In Fulton County, 22 people lost their lives in 2013 as a result of a collision involving an alcohol-impaired driver with a BAC of 0.08 or more.
  • Fulton County’s alcohol-related car accident fatalities that year occurred at a rate of 2.24 fatalities per 100,000 members of its population.
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Subtitle: What Legal Steps Should I Take After Accident Caused by a Drunk Driver?

Get Medical Attention and the Police Report – FAST

Once you have received medical attention for your injuries, your next step should be to contact the police department that handled your accident and request a copy of the accident report. A report also should be obtained from the paramedics or other emergency personnel who treated you, your passengers, and any other victims at the scene.

Review the report thoroughly to determine whether it is factually correct. In most drunk driving accident cases, the reports filed by the police and fire departments can be used as evidence in court, so you need to make sure the details are accurate. Accident reports should include the time the accident, weather and road conditions, accident specifics, your condition, the condition of the other driver, and whether the other driver was arrested for a suspected DUI. If there are any discrepancies in the facts pertaining to your accident, politely request to have changes made.

Investigating and Proving Your DUI Injury Case

Proving negligence in a car accident caused by a drunk driver is not always a simple task. To put together a strong case, you may need conduct an independent accident investigation, hire an accident reconstruction expert, interview potential eyewitnesses, gather evidence of driver intoxication, and determine the true value of your claim.

It is important you get all of your accident-related injuries and related ailments treated and fully documented by your physician. From the first time you sought medical attention, in the hospital emergency room or from your own doctor, each appointment and all treatments should be recorded.

Medical documentation will be essential to proving the extent of your injuries and justifying your compensation claim. You will want to present all medical records and bills to the at-fault driver’s insurance company. A second copy should be kept by you in your personal records.

Subtitle: Criminal vs. Civil Case: Why You Need to Take Immediate Action

You Are Most Likely Entitled to Civil Damages From The DUI Driver

Even if the drunk driver responsible for causing your accident and injuries is convicted of driving under the influence, the criminal conviction – unless the Court awards restitution (usually a small and limited amount) – will not provide you proper compensation to cover your medical costs, lost wages, repairs, and other accident-related expenses.

Georgia law provides people harmed by drunk drivers the option of filing a personal injury lawsuit or wrongful death lawsuit to seek damages you may be legally owed.

When an individual becomes the victim of a personal injury accident caused by a drunk driver, the injured person generally only has two years in which to file a claim according to Georgia’s statute of limitations. If there is an ongoing criminal case against the at-fault drunk driver, the two-year statute of limitations may, however, be put on hold (tolled) and begin again once the criminal case is complete.

Knowing what to do after an accident involving a drunk driver is essential to protecting your rights. It will also be key in your pursuit of fair and just compensation for your injuries or loss.

If you’re looking for a Car Accident Attorney to handle your DUI accident injury case, we’re here for you! Chat with us or call us at 770-400-0000.

Sources:

- D. Lo

I would highly recommend this firm and staff to everyone, they were great with my case.

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