What should I do if I suspect my accident was caused by a drunk driver?

Car Keys by a Glass of AlcoholAfter the initial shock of the crash wears off, you try to understand how it happened. It was not raining or snowing, there was no traffic, visibility was good, and you did not suddenly slow down or stop. So what caused the other driver to slam into you?

When you get out of the car to investigate, you notice that the other driver is not acting normally. He does not seem to have been injured in the crash, but he is behaving erratically and not making sense. Suddenly, it strikes you—this guy is drunk. You have been the victim of a drunk driver. What should you do? Our Indianapolis car accident lawyer explains further. 

Take These Steps at the Scene of the Car Accident

As you begin to get your wits about you, it’s important that you take steps to ensure your safety and to help investigators figure out what caused the accident later on.

Proving that the other driver is 100 percent at-fault for the crash could mean that you will be entitled to full compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and other damages. If you are able, we recommend doing as many of the following as possible:

  • Get to safety. If the collision happened in the middle of the road, you should get out of the car and walk to a safe area. Secondary collisions are not uncommon in high-traffic areas, so for your own safety, you should leave your car where it is and get to the shoulder, sidewalk, or nearby parking lot. If the other driver is acting aggressively, you should also make sure you are distanced from him.
  • Call the police. Once you are in a safe area, call the police. If the other driver is worried about getting in trouble, he might try to convince you not to call, but you have no choice in this situation. When the police arrive, let them know that you think the other driver is drunk. Evidence that they gather at the scene, including a field sobriety test, will be vital to your claim for damages.
  • Take photos. Before the vehicles are moved, and if it is safe to do so, use your phone to take as many photos of the cars and the scene as possible. Try to capture several angles and all the damage to both vehicles. If the other driver is acting erratically, you might try to capture his behavior on video.
  • Talk to witnesses. If there are bystanders who saw what happened, ask them for their names and phone numbers. The police should do this as well, but if they are less than thorough in their investigation, it will be helpful to have the names.
  • Do not apologize or admit fault. You will have to give a statement to the police about what happened, but be careful not to say anything that could be understood as you admitting partial fault. For example, saying something like, “I just glanced down for a second,” could come back to haunt you, even if the other driver is drunk.
  • See a doctor. As soon as you can after the crash, get checked out by a doctor. Getting an assessment of any injuries you sustained and starting treatment for your injuries will be a clear sign that you are taking the accident seriously.
  • Call a lawyer. If it is looking like you will incur significant medical bills because of the accident, you should hire a car accident attorney as soon as possible. Remember that the drunk driving charges the other driver is facing are criminal charges and will probably not lead to your compensation. For that, you will need to deal with his insurance company and possibly take civil action.

If you were seriously injured in the crash and need to be transported to the hospital in an ambulance, you will not be able to do these things, and that’s ok. In fact, if an ambulance was called, the police will also be there. They will investigate and charge the other driver with DUI, which will help your claim later on.

James R. Keller
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Partner at Keller & Keller