Hit By A Drunk Driver? Keep These 3 Tips In Mind
No one is prepared to get into an accident with a drunk driver. Yet, according to MADD's statistics, someone is injured by a drunk driver every 2 minutes in the US. If you have unwillingly become a part of that statistic, you may be at a loss for what to do next. Fortunately, you don't have to just accept your injuries and property damage lying down.
If you arm yourself with these tips for building a strong case, you should be able to get the damages you need to move on with your life, either through a settlement or a successful suit.
Tip 1: You Still Need To Hire A Lawyer
Though it may seem like a case against a drunk driver should be totally open-and-shut, you may face more obstacles than you anticipated if the other party's insurance company chooses to challenge your claim.
Most drivers unfamiliar with the legal process after an accident can make common mistakes that weaken their own case. If you don't have legal counsel on your side immediately, you may fall into one of the many pitfalls that can make it harder to recover damages. These common errors include any of the following directly after the accident:
- Telling the police or the other party that you feel fine
- Telling your insurance company that your injuries are not serious
- Not immediately seeking medical help
- Not following your doctor's instructions
If you want your case to be airtight from the start, it's important to hire a lawyer from a firm like Schiller, Kessler & Gomez, PLC before you give any statements or make any significant medical decisions that may contravene what your doctors have told you to do.
Tip 2: Settling May Be Easier When Battling A Drunk Driver
While it's obvious that no one wants to be in an accident in the first place, you may actually be a little lucky if the driver who hit you turns out to have been drunk at the time.
When you file your claim with the other driver's insurance company, they estimate liability on behalf of both parties. Because the other driver was drunk, they will automatically be held at fault in most cases. This means you're less likely to face a struggle with their insurance over paying you the damages you request.
In the event that you do have to threaten legal action to get the money you need, you'll still have far more leverage than you might otherwise. Insurance companies will be more likely to settle your case out of court and avoid additional costs if they know they'll have to face the uphill battle of defending a drunk driver.
Tip 3: The Other Driver Might Not Be The Only Liable Party
In Florida, a drunk driver who gets into an accident may not be considered the only person to blame. Depending on the other party and where they got their alcohol, you may also be able to seek damages from additional sources under Florida's Dram Shop and Social Host laws.
Dram Shop laws apply to businesses that serve alcohol, like liquor stores, bars, and restaurants. The intention of the law is to minimize public drunkenness and keep alcohol out of the hands of minors whenever possible. If the person who hit you has a history of alcohol abuse known to the seller of the alcohol, or if they were a minor, you may be able to file suit with the original business that sold the drinks in the first place.
Social Host laws are slightly different. They apply only to minors, and typically govern the actions of organizations or groups of people that may give out free alcohol, such as college fraternities or the hosts of private parties. These laws essentially dictate that if minors are given alcohol and then go on to cause damage in auto accidents, the host or hosting organization responsible may be held at least partially liable.
Being hit by a drunk driver doesn't have to ruin your life, but it can if you aren't prepared for a legal battle. If you've recently been hit and injured by a drunk driver, you should contact your lawyer immediately to work on your case. With a little proactive discussion now, you may be able to avoid potential problems and get the money you deserve.