The Holidays: What to do if you are hit by drunk driver

It’s that time of year. Thanksgiving is this week and shortly after that holiday parties will begin. From work to family to the neighborhood watch, celebrations abound. And they are often accompanied by alcohol–sometimes copious amounts.

But the truth is, it doesn’t take much alcohol to affect a driver’s ability to handle sudden traffic problems. Slippery roads, lower visibility after dark, and slower reaction time due to alcohol can, and often is, a recipe for an accident. What should you do if it happens to you?

What should I do?

First, if you are in an accident, stay calm. Call 911 and if possible, move your cars to a side street or somewhere off the road. If it is safe, take pictures before you move your car. If not, understand that an accident re-construction expert can accomplish even more than your photos, so let safety be your paramount concern.

Second, get the medical help you need as soon as possible. This is critical. Even if you walked away from the crash, there is a good chance you have anything from a concussion to soft-tissue damage. If you have children in the car, especially young ones who may not be able to verbalize their aches and pains, require that your doctor or emergency room do an exam. Lifelong problems can occur from untreated injuries.

Third, contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Having one in your contacts is not paranoid, it’s prepared. There are two reasons an attorney is essential: One–any car accident, even a fender-bender, is emotionally traumatizing; two-silence golden.

How can an attorney help?

An attorney can be your voice–a calm voice–while you spend time recovering; he can interact with your insurance company while you take time to recover physically and mentally. More importantly, he can review evidence and all facts and ensure that you do not give a statement that might be damaging to you.

Damaging? But you were the one who got hit, right? Right. But insurance companies are not always eager to part with their money. Finding you partially responsible minimizes their fiduciary duty. If someone is going to start apportioning blame to you, why not let a skilled lawyer help them determine whether that assertion is correct?

The holidays are a wonderful and magical time. But accidents can and will happen. Prepare yourself for all possibilities, and you can be assured of the best possible outcome if it happens to you.