A driver under the influence of alcohol or drugs hit me while riding my bicycle. What do I do now?
If you think you’ve been in an accident with someone under the influence, here’s what to do right away to ensure your safety and protect your legal rights.
Even if you don’t think you were seriously injured, go to an emergency room. Immediately after a drunk driving accident, your adrenaline is high, and it can be hard to tell if you have more than just bruises or cuts.
Your symptoms might not show up for hours or days, especially if you have an underlying medical condition like diabetes or heart disease.
It can be challenging but try not to judge your injuries based on how bad they look right away – give yourself some time before making that call.
Chances are pretty good that any injuries sustained in a drunk driving accident will get worse before they get better – keep them iced, splinted, and elevated as much as possible until help arrives.
Call Police if Needed
If you see an accident that involves suspected drunk driving, don’t get out of your car or attempt to intervene, and you might find yourself at risk for assault or vehicular homicide charges. Instead, call 911 and describe what you saw.
Police can use your description for evidence if an arrest is made later.
If you’re ever involved in a situation where someone has driven while intoxicated and injured your loved ones, your account of what happened can help law enforcement gather necessary evidence later on. (Note: If there’s any reason that calling 911 isn’t possible, try reaching out to police through their non-emergency number instead.)
Take Pictures of Evidence
If you were injured in an accident and thought that a drunk driver caused it, take pictures of your vehicle right away. Some good pictures could help show what kind of damage has been done to your car and might also show possible evidence such as dents or skid marks.
Don’t touch anything while taking these photos because you don’t want your prints all over that evidence, which may affect its admissibility as evidence in court.
Also, make sure to get some video footage if it’s safe for you to do so. And don’t forget about bystanders who can verify what happened; get their contact information if possible, too, so you can follow up with them later on down the road after more things have happened.
Get Medical Attention
Even if you feel fine, you’ll want to get checked out. If you sustain injuries, your health will be more at risk if you don’t receive proper medical attention right away.
This is especially true if alcohol was involved—many people try to drive home after being in an accident and end up hurting themselves more.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 45 percent of crash deaths among drivers with known alcohol impairment occur because they attempt driving again despite their injuries or intoxication.
It’s essential not only for your safety but also for getting compensated by your insurance company that a professional physician looks at any injured parties.
Gather Evidence from Injuries and Car Damage
The easiest way to figure out whether someone was driving drunk is by gathering up whatever evidence you can find. If there are injuries, photos of your injuries will be key in obtaining compensation.
This is also true if there’s significant car damage resulting from an accident with a drunk driver. Having pictures and any insurance claims will make it easier to file your claim and seek compensation for your expenses.
Take detailed photos at the scene of an accident and save any insurance papers or other correspondence you receive from your insurance company.
Saving these materials (and keeping them somewhere safe) could prove vital if you decide to pursue legal action later on down the road.
Write Down What Happened
When you are able, write down what happened. It will be easier for you to focus on your injuries and damage when you’re not feeling frantic or intoxicated.
If you could have recorded everything on your phone or camera before calling 911, that would be best. Recording events as they happen helps law enforcement identify drunk drivers, but it is also beneficial for your personal injury claim should you need one later on.
While collecting evidence is important immediately after an accident, never try taking pictures of someone who is injured or driving away from an accident scene; definitely stay safe first and foremost.
Even if there wasn’t any personal injury involved, you can still report an instance of drunk driving and collect evidence afterward once safely home.
Hire a Lawyer
In many states, you’re required by law to get an attorney if you suspect that you were involved in an accident caused by a drunk driver.
If you may have legal recourse, your best bet is to consult with an experienced Jacksonville personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after your accident; he or she can help protect your rights and provide valuable legal advice.
While hiring one doesn’t mean that there will be any money awarded, it also doesn’t mean there won’t be any money awarded—and, depending on what happens during your case, it could improve your chances of getting compensation for damages.