Every year, there are more than 8,000 drunk driving accidents in the state of New York. The overwhelming majority of those (around 6,000) result in at least one injury. About 350 New Yorkers die in drunk driving accidents each year.
We hope you’re never involved in a drunk driving accident. But if you are — and if you survive — you might be surprised by how disorienting and emotionally overwhelming the first minutes after impact can be.
Even if you are completely sober, your state of mind might be compromised in the immediate aftermath of a crash. Victims often find it hard to think clearly. They might not even realize they are injured despite obvious signs.
For that reason, we encourage all New York drivers to prepare for an accident before it happens. Drunk driving is a persistent threat on New York roadways, so it makes sense to consider how you’d respond if it ever happens to you.
The following tips apply generally to any type of auto accident, but they’re written with drunk driving injuries in mind.
1. Call the Police
If you have a cell phone, call the authorities and report the accident right away. If you don’t, find the nearest phone or ask someone else at the scene to call. (If there are signs of a medical emergency, call 911. Otherwise, you may call either 911 or the local police line.)
There are several good reasons for calling the police immediately after an accident:
- It’s required. You can get yourself in hot water by failing to notify the police.
- A police officer will create an official accident report, which will be very useful for any insurance claim or lawsuit you might consider in the weeks or months ahead.
- Drunk drivers are a threat to everyone, and if they aren’t held accountable, there’s a good chance they’ll commit the same crime again. By calling the authorities, you are helping to hold drunk drivers accountable to the law.
2. Avoid Confrontation
Tempers can run high after an accident, and panic sometimes set in. Alcohol tends to exacerbate emotions. An inebriated driver is unpredictable and might act irrationally or even violently.
Do your best to assess the situation and avoid confrontations. If the drunk driver is aggressive or threatening, call 911 right away and ask to stay on the line until an officer arrives.
If the other driver attempts to leave the scene (hit and run), do not attempt to stop them. Instead, notify the police right away. Take photos of the driver, their car, and their license plate if possible.
3. Stay Put & Cooperate
It’s not enough to notify the police. You also need to stay at the scene until they arrive (unless taken away for medical care by an emergency responder). Don’t leave the scene until an officer dismisses you.
Be respectful to the police officer(s) and follow their directions. Even if you do not agree with their assessment of the situation, remain calm and cooperate.
4. Gather Evidence (Including Photographs)
If you decide to make an insurance claim or file a lawsuit later, you’ll want as much evidence as possible to strengthen your case.
The best time to gather evidence? Right then and there at the scene of the crash.
The best types of evidence to gather? Here are some things to document if you can:
- Names and contact information for all parties to the accident
- Names and contact information for any eyewitnesses
- Insurance information for the other drivers
- Photographs, including:
- Vehicular damage (from multiple angles and vantage points)
- Bodily injuries
- License plates
- Broad-view photos of the accident scene, road conditions, street lights, intersections, etc.
Take more photos than you think you need. Back them up as soon as you get home. Photographs are among the most persuasive forms of evidence, so we can’t emphasize their importance enough. (That said, if your accident already happened and you didn’t manage to get pictures, please still give us a call. Many victims have recovered compensation without photographs.)
5. Seek Medical Attention
Even if you did not experience a medical emergency, it’s still essential that you see a doctor as soon as possible. Doctors may be able to diagnose medical conditions or injuries that haven’t yet caused signs or symptoms (for example, internal injuries, or minor injuries that are expected to grow worse with time).
Moreover, a documented doctor’s visit can be helpful in establishing the seriousness of your legal claim later on, should you choose to file one.
6. Call Your Car Insurance Company
Many car insurance policies require that policyholders provide timely notice of an auto accident. So even if you weren’t at fault, you should call your own insurance provider as soon as possible to notify them of the accident.
7. Call a New York DUI Injury Lawyer
Drunk driving accidents in New York tend to involve substantial injuries. If you have suffered as a result of someone else’s decision to drive while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or medication, you may be entitled to significant financial compensation under the laws of our state. An experienced New York DUI injury lawyer can help.
Likewise, if you have lost a loved one as a result of a drunk driving accident, you and your family may have a wrongful death claim. The experienced personal injury attorneys at Lever & Ecker, PLLC can help.
DUI injury claims take time to prepare. While we have been able to resolve many of our client’s cases efficiently and favorably without ever having to go to court, negotiations do require time. It’s important to leave enough time open to file a formal lawsuit should that become necessary.
For that reason, it is in your best interest to contact an experienced New York DUI injury lawyer as soon as possible.
Who Can You Sue After Being Injured by a Drunk Driver in New York?
New York law provides significant protections for drunk driving victims. If you’ve been hurt after a DUI accident, you might have a claim against multiple parties. These might include:
- The drunk driver
- The drunk driver’s insurance company
- The bar or restaurant that served the driver too much alcohol (dram shop liability)
- Other drivers or third parties whose negligence contributed to the accident
It’s important to note that a civil claim for DUI injuries will proceed separately from any criminal matter that might be pending against the drunk driver. These two proceedings may overlap, but the outcome of one does not affect the other.
Have You Been Injured by a Drunk Driver? Call Lever & Ecker, PLLC.
If you or someone you love has been injured in a New York drunk driving accident, let the Manhattan & White Plains car accident lawyers at Lever & Ecker, PLLC fight for your rights.
We’ll work tirelessly to maximize your compensation and demand the insurance company gives you the justice you deserve.
Get started with a free and confidential case review today. We will not charge a fee for our services unless and until we get you money. Call 914-288-9191 or simply contact us online right away.