Driving under the influence (DUI) is one of the United States’ most pervasive crimes. Over ten thousand people were killed in 2012 as a result of someone driving drunk. Yet, despite the prevalence of drunk driving-related fatalities on our roads, the correct way to handle an accident and its aftermath is not often discussed. It should be, though, since after a crash, the family of people injured or killed will be lost and confused.
Immediately Following An Accident
The most important thing you should do after being hit by a DUI driver is to seek medical help. Even if you think you are not unduly injured, you may be incorrect – shock is incredibly common after serious injury, and it can negate some of the pain you may otherwise feel.
If you are not the injured person, your first priority is to call emergency services and the police. Your second is to keep everyone calm, but especially to ensure that no one makes any statement that could be misconstrued as guilt or fault. If someone admits their guilt to you, be aware that it may fall under a hearsay exception (which would make it inadmissible in court) or otherwise be deemed insufficient proof of fault. There is almost always more to obtaining compensation for your injuries than a simple statement.
It is also a good idea, if possible, to document the scene as much as possible. Only after everyone has been treated for any injuries should you think about hiring an attorney, and when you do, the attorney will need as much information as can be provided to them in order to build a case.
After the Dust Has Settled
After your injuries have been brought under control by a medical professional, take time to look for an attorney and deal with your insurance company. It is easier than you might think to find an attorney – most personal injury practitioners work on a contingency basis, meaning that they are paid a set fee if they win the case, and if they lose, no fee is paid.
When a regular car accident occurs, with no evidence of substances being involved, a personal injury claim is most often brought on a basis of alleged negligence – that is, arguing that the driver who hit you failed to exercise due care in the operation of their vehicle, and their actions were the direct cause of your injuries. In a drunk driving accident, however, the basis for a claim is different. Drunk driving is a violation of South Carolina law, and in past court cases, the South Carolina courts have held that the “violation of a statute constitutes negligence per se.” Negligence per se means that unlike in a standard negligence case, the plaintiff does not have to prove certain elements of their case – by the mere fact that the defendant broke the law, their negligence will be stipulated. It makes it much easier for a plaintiff to prevail in court.
A Personal Injury Attorney Can Help
If you have been the victim of a drunk driver, we can help. Callihan & Syracuse has practitioners with years of experience who are ready to assist. Contact our North Charleston office today for an initial consultation.