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What to do if you were hit by a drunk driver

Posted by Giovanna A. D'Orazio | Jan 13, 2022

Today we are going to talk about what to do if you are hurt in  a car accident involving a driver who was intoxicated or under the influence of drugs. But first, before we do, if you have questions or want to reach out to us, give us a call or hit the contact us button. I

So, you are in a car accident or a family member is in a car accident and you're hit by a driver who's intoxicated and you suffer a severe injury.

What do you do?

Well, there are a couple of things that you need to think about if and when you are involved in an accident involving a drunk driver, or a driver who was under the influence of drugs, including marijuana, which is recreationally legal now in New York.

The first thing you want to do is make sure that the police are called so that a police report can be taken. And in particular, if a driver is under the influence, then they will be issued tickets. And this is important because that can help you establish liability down the road in the event that you have to file a lawsuit or even if you're just dealing with an insurance company.

So if you're hurt, you want to make sure that you call the police, make sure that the police come to the scene, an accident reports filled out, insurance information is exchanged, and any witnesses are identified by the responding police officer. After the accident, you or your attorney is going to want to reach out to the local court or district attorney who is responsible for prosecuting those tickets, who will be notified that this was an accident that involved a serious injury.

Why do we do that? Because then the prosecutor is less likely to give a quick plea deal to the wrongdoer, which may become important later, particularly if there's an accident that involves an injury, because you can potentially use that later on in the case if there's an admission of wrongdoing involving liability.  So, make sure that the police are called, make sure a police report is made, and then you or an attorney is going to want to reach out to the prosecutor to make sure that there's no easy plea given.

Next thing is to make sure that there's insurance and that the insurance companies are notified, not just the insurance company for the other driver.

Once you figure out what the limits are, you're going to want to notify your own insurance company that you have a potential SUM or UM claim. That's a claim that allows you to seek damages from your own insurance company in excess of the other driver's insurance.

Why is this important?

This is important because many times if you are hurt because of a drunk driver, you have a serious injury. You may need surgery. You may have a long recovery, you may miss work, and it can get worse from there. If a driver has $100,000 or $50,000 or even $250,000 in insurance coverage, that may not be enough may not be enough to compensate you.

If you have sufficient SUM or UM coverage under your own insurance policy, you can make a claim against that for damages beyond what the other driver had.  So you want to make sure that you notify them because part of your responsibility as an insured is to notify the insurance company that you have the potential for a SUM or UM claim. If you don't know what your sum or UM coverage is, take a look at the declarations page on your auto insurance policy.  You can get that from your insurance carrier.

Figure out what it is. If you're able to, you should add more because we have clients all the time who are hurt because of an accident with a drunk or impaired driver and the insurance company or the insurance policy for the other driver just isn't enough. So we always recommend getting more.

You may need it. Hopefully you don't. But if you do, it's going to be very valuable for you.

Third thing to do get medical treatment. If you intend to make any claim based upon the injuries that you sustained in an accident, you're going to need to have medical treatment.

But besides that, it's obviously the most important thing. You have to take care of yourself and your family so that you can move on from the accident. And the best way to do that is to get medical treatment immediately as needed.

If you have questions contact us today.

About the Author

Giovanna A. D'Orazio

Giovanna has experience litigating, among other things, commercial, general civil, employment, land use and personal injury matters in New York State and federal courts. Giovanna focuses her practice on plaintiff's employment and personal injury matters, with a particular interest in women's rights and employment discrimination and harassment.

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