If you get hit by a drunk driver, you have clear legal rights in Washington. Causing an accident while driving under the influence (DUI) is a criminal offense, but it is also a clear form of negligence. This means that DUI accident victims can file claims for compensation, and they can fight to recover their current and future losses with the help of an experienced lawyer.
The attorneys at Fuller & Fuller, Attorneys PLLC have helped accident victims throughout Washington for 50 years. We understand the many challenges faced by victims of drunk drivers and are committed to helping our clients pursue the full and fair compensation to which they are entitled under the law.
Steps To Take Immediately After Being Hit By a Drunk Driver
To protect your legal rights if you’re hit by a drunk driver in Washington, there are some steps you should try to take in the immediate aftermath of the accident. Note that if you are seriously injured in the accident, you should avoid movements that may aggravate your injuries and follow the instructions of emergency medical personnel. These steps include:
1. Call 911
If you are able to, call 911 from the scene of the accident. Even if there are witnesses, do not assume that someone else will call 911 for you. When you call, answer the dispatcher’s questions, and then remain at the scene until the police arrive.
2. Avoid Interacting with the Drunk Driver
While it is important to collect the other driver’s insurance information after a car accident, interacting with a drunk driver can be dangerous so it is best to keep your distance. When the police arrive, they should obtain the driver’s insurance information and include it in their accident report. If the drunk driver does say anything to you, make a note of what they say, especially if they apologize or admit fault.
3. Write Down the Drunk Driver’s Vehicle Information
When dealing with a drunk driving accident, the more information you can collect at the scene of the accident, the better. With this in mind, you should write down the make, model, and color of the drunk driver’s vehicle. Write down the drunk driver’s license plate number and state of registration as well.
4. Document the Crash
Along with recording information about the drunk driver’s vehicle, you should also take plenty of photos to document the crash, if it can be done safely. Using your phone, take photos of:
- The damage to each vehicle
- Any damage to signposts, guardrails, or other items
- Any traffic signs or signals in the vicinity
- The road (including any skid marks, puddles, debris, or other hazards)
- The area surrounding the crash
If any witnesses stopped at the crash site, you should ask for their contact information. When dealing with insurance companies, having statements from unbiased witnesses can be extremely helpful for proving your legal rights.
5. Get a Copy of the Police Report
Before leaving the scene of the accident, ask for a copy of the police report, or the exchange of information summary if their report is not completed at the scene. Along with the drunk driver’s insurance information, this report should have several other important pieces of information as well.
Additional Steps To Protect Your Legal Rights
In addition to taking the steps listed above at the scene of the accident (assuming you are physically able to do so), there are some additional steps you should take. For example, after being injured in a drunk driving accident, it is also important to:
1. Seek Treatment for Your Injuries
Accident victims should seek treatment for their injuries as soon as possible. Even if you don’t need to go to the emergency room in an ambulance, it is still extremely important that you prioritize your recovery.
2. Follow Your Doctor’s Advice
Once you receive a diagnosis and treatment plan, you should follow your doctor’s advice (or seek a second opinion, if necessary). Ignoring your doctor’s advice could delay your recovery—and it could create challenges for your insurance claim as well.
3. File an Auto Insurance Claim
Speaking of your insurance claim, you should contact your insurance company promptly. Report your drunk driving accident, and let your adjuster know that you were injured in the crash. But, other than providing very basic information, you should avoid going into detail at this time—and you should not make any assumptions about what may or may not have happened leading up to the collision.
4. Review Your Auto Insurance Policy
While recovering your losses will likely involve obtaining coverage under the drunk driver’s policy (assuming he or she has coverage), you may also need to rely on your own auto insurance policy. If you have uninsured/underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage, you can use this to maximize your financial recovery if necessary.
5. Talk to a Lawyer Who Handles DUI Injury Accidents
Even though you have clear legal rights as a drunk driving accident victim in Washington, recovering appropriate compensation requires experienced legal representation. You will want a lawyer to deal with the insurance companies on your behalf, and you will need to work with your lawyer to calculate how much you are entitled to recover.
Call Now for a FREE Consultation with a Washington Car Accident Lawyer
Our Washington car accident lawyers bring five decades of experience to representing crash victims. If you have been seriously injured by a drunk driver, we can help.
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If you or someone you love was injured by a drunk driver, call Fuller & Fuller, Attorneys PLLC at (800) 570-4878 to discuss your case for FREE with an experienced lawyer. Our firm serves clients in Olympia, Tacoma, and other areas throughout Washington, and has for the past 50 years.