According to the National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA), [] about 3 in every 10 Americans will be involved in an alcohol-related crash at some time in their lives.

If you have been injured by a drunk driver you have clear legal rights in Washington, and an attorney can help. Causing an accident while driving under the influence (DUI) is a criminal offense. That means 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. You have the right to sue the driver who hurt you in civil court for damages, including medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering.

It’s important to note, however, that an alcohol-impaired driver isn’t automatically at fault for an accident. You will have to show that the driver’s impairment caused or contributed to the accident, and you’ll need to take steps to protect yourself immediately following an alcohol-related crash.

8 Steps to Take If You Are Hit By A Drunk Driver

Getting hit by a drunk driver can change your life in an instant. In the moments following a drunk driving accident, try to remain as calm as you can and take the following steps to protect yourself and prepare for a potential car accident claim or lawsuit.

woman in orange calling 911 after a car accident

1. Call 911

If you are able, call 911 from the scene of the accident, even if there are witnesses. When you call, answer the dispatcher’s questions, and then remain at the scene until the police arrive. An officer will speak to everyone involved in the accident and write a police report. Calling the police is essential when you suspect that you’ve been hit by a drunk driver, as they will make the driver complete a field sobriety test and take a breathalyzer or blood alcohol test.

Ask the police to help you exchange contact and insurance information with the other driver, and get the driver’s full name, driver’s license number, license plate number, and car insurance information.

2. Do Not Interact with the Drunk Driver

Interacting with a drunk driver can be dangerous. When the police arrive, let them obtain the driver’s insurance information. However, if the drunk driver speaks to you, particularly if they apologize or admit fault, try to remember exactly what they say.

3. Get the Drunk Driver’s Vehicle Information and Document the Crash

The more information you can collect at the scene of the accident, the better. If you can, write down the make, model, and color of the drunk driver’s vehicle, as well as the license plate number. Try to take photos of the damage to each vehicle, damage to the surrounding area, traffic signs or signals in the vicinity, the road (including any skid marks or debris), and lighting or weather conditions.

If there are any witnesses, ask for their contact information. When dealing with insurance companies, having statements from unbiased witnesses can be extremely helpful for proving your legal rights.

4. Get a Copy of the Police Report

Do not interfere with the police investigation, but before leaving the scene of the accident, ask for a copy of the police report and the drunk driver’s insurance information.

5. Steps for Protecting Your Legal Rights

Following any accident there are additional steps you should take that will help a qualified personal injury lawyer build your case and maximize your settlement. Contacting a Washington Automobile Injury Lawyer can help you navigate the difficulties dealing with insurance companies.

6. Get Medical Attention

Accident victims should always seek treatment for their injuries as soon as possible and follow their doctor’s advice. Ignoring your doctor’s advice could delay your recovery—and it could create challenges for your insurance claim.

7. Contact Your Insurance Company

Contact your insurance company as soon as possible and report your drunk driving accident. Let your adjuster know that you were injured in the crash but avoid going into detail. While recovering your losses may involve obtaining coverage under the drunk driver’s policy, 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.

8. Talk to a Lawyer Who Handles DUI Injury Accidents

Even though you have clear legal rights as a drunk driving accident victim in Washington state, 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. The Law Offices of Michael Clark 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. Michael Clarke is a top Tacoma Car Accident Lawyer and we have the means to help you get the compensation you deserve.

DUI accidents are often complex with criminal and civil consequences. If you’re the victim of a drunk driver, we can help you build your case, communicate with the other side, and maximize your settlement. If you or a loved one has been injured by a drunk driver, CONTACT US Today!