In South Florida, drunk driving accidents happen every day. Whether you’re driving in a passenger vehicle or you’re riding a bike, being hit by a drunk driver can be a traumatizing experience, especially if you sustain a personal injury. Because accidents happen so fast, the moments following a drunk driving accident may be filled with uncertainty. Nothing else should matter more than ensuring you receive the medical attention you need. If you are physically able to call the police yourself, then do so. If not, do your best to move yourself to a secure area and wait for help.
What comes after a drunk driving accident may be even more overwhelming. Since drunk driving cases often result in both civil and criminal cases, victims may find themselves tangled in a complex web of legal matters. To protect your rights, here are five steps to take if you’re hit by a drunk driver.
Evidence is one of the most important pieces of your case. Start by collecting concrete evidence like driver’s licenses, insurance information, phone numbers, addresses, and vehicle registration. Take pictures of the accident scene, including your injuries, skid marks, vehicles, and anything else that’s in a different state than it was before the accident. Take note of any visible evidence that may indicate the driver was drinking while driving, such as an open container in their vehicle or a wristband from a bar or club. Let the police perform an investigation and carry out their DUI processes.
Report the Accident to Insurance Companies
Most auto insurance companies require motorists to report an accident that results in a certain amount of property damage, personal injury, or death. Similarly, Florida law requires motorists to contact police if there are injuries, deaths, or property damage that appears to exceed $500 in value. Once an accident report is generated, you’ll want to notify both your and the other party’s insurance company right away. This is an important step, as some policies establish a certain amount of days that you have to report the accident. If you don’t notify them within that specific time frame, you may risk being ineligible for filing a claim.
In addition, it’s likely that you don’t know the extent of your injuries nor the drunk driver’s circumstances, so you may be hesitant to call them. Keep in mind that notifying insurance companies is not the same as filing a claim. Therefore, when in your communication with either insurer, refrain from disclosing any information that may be used to dismiss your injuries.
File a Claim Immediately
Florida allows injured parties to file a claim within four years from the date of the accident. Ideally, you’ll file a claim earlier than that since insurance and legal procedures are lengthy.
Depending on your insurance company, they may want to start the claims process right away. Generally, your medical bills and property damage will be covered by your personal insurance, up to your policy limits. If your injuries are more severe and exceed your coverage, then you may also file a claim with the other party’s insurance. Also, drunk drivers who are convicted of a DUI may be sued for punitive damages.
Don’t Accept Settlement Right Away
Your personal insurance won’t always have your best interests at heart. After you file a claim, you may receive a call or letter in the mail offering you a cash settlement. More often than not, the settlement amount is much lower than what you’re entitled to. Insurance companies employ these deceiving tactics because they know that accident victims are in distress and need money to pay for their bills.
Plus, insurance adjusters typically only calculate the minimum amount of tangible losses, such as your recent medical bills, property damage, and rehab costs. This doesn’t consider any future troubles you may endure.
Prepare to Work With an Attorney
An experienced and knowledgeable personal injury attorney knows how to best proceed in drunk driving cases. As you can see, every step you take can impact the outcome of your personal injury case in Florida. It’s advisable to let an attorney guide you through each of these steps, to ensure not only that you don’t make a mistake but also that no one does you wrong.
Hit by a Drunk Driver in South FL? Call Baker Legal Team for Help
Justice must be served when it comes to drunk driving accidents. Those who willingly choose to get behind the wheel pose a significant threat to themselves as well as others on the road, and they must be held accountable for such negligent actions. At Baker Legal Team, we strongly believe that there are no justifiable reasons for drinking and driving, which is why we don’t pursue these matters lightly.
Founded by Board-Certified attorney Robert Baker, our Boca Raton personal injury law firm has dedicated 30 years of service to representing injured accident victims in their pursuit of compensation. We strive to understand what our clients are going through so we can do what’s right. The greatest honor to us is being able to give back to the South Florida communities we serve. Reach Attorney Robert Baker by calling at (561) 320-0000 or complete our contact form today!