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Five Steps to Take After Being Hit By a Drunk Driver

Drunk driving is dangerous driving. Unfortunately, it remains a major safety threat. The National Safety Council (NSC) reports that more than 13,000 people were killed in the U.S. in alcohol-related motor vehicle collisions in 2021 alone. Many tens of thousands more people suffered serious injuries. If you are hit by a drunk driver, you need justice and financial support.  

The immediate aftermath of a crash is complicated—especially so if it is suspected that another driver is intoxicated. It is imperative that you take a proactive, detailed-focused approach to protect your health, safety, and ability to secure compensation. Here, our Phoenix auto accident lawyer highlights five steps to take after being hit by a drunk driver in Maricopa County or elsewhere in Arizona. 

Step #1: Report the Collision to State or Local Law Enforcement

A car accident can be a downright traumatic experience. If you suspect another driver is intoxicated by alcohol or drugs, it makes your case even more complicated. Drunk driving is illegal in Arizona. It is a criminal violation, and the repercussions of such incidents can be significant. Every serious crash should be reported to state or local law enforcement—and that is especially important if you suspect intoxicated driving. When the police arrive, they will document the scene, conduct sobriety tests if necessary, and create an official accident report. The report is a vital piece of evidence for insurance claims and other legal matters. Report your collision to the Phoenix Police Department or another state or local law enforcement agency. 

Step #2: Seek Immediate Medical Care for Any Injuries (Emergencies First)

The top priority after a suspected DUI crash is your health, safety, and long-term physical and mental well-being. All injuries need to be evaluated by a doctor. Of course, a severe injury requires emergency medical care at the nearest hospital. Even if you feel fine, it is still essential to seek medical attention. There are injuries—whiplash, concussions, internal bleeding—which might not be immediately apparent after a collision. Not only is getting prompt medical care vital for your safety, but it also helps to document the link between the accident and your injuries. 

Personal Injury Tip: See a doctor right away after a DUI crash. You need comprehensive medical records to bring a successful personal injury claim in Arizona. If you do not have sufficient records to prove the nature and severity of your injuries, you may not be able to get any compensation at all.  

Step #3: Document the Accident and Your Injuries 

Arizona is a fault-based motor vehicle accident jurisdiction. That matters for all types of claims, including drunk driving accidents. You may assume that a drunk driver is automatically liable for a crash—and while that is generally the case, you still need to prove that the other driver was actually intoxicated, that their intoxication contributed to your accident, and that you do not bear partial fault. Documentation is your ally in the aftermath of being hit by a drunk driver. 

If you can, take pictures of the accident scene, including the vehicles involved, any visible injuries, and other relevant details like road conditions or traffic signs. Beyond that, gather contact information from witnesses. The testimonies from eyewitnesses can be valuable in supporting your case. You should also keep a detailed journal of your recovery process, noting any pain, discomfort, medical appointments, and how the injuries impact your daily life. 

Step #4: Consult With a Top-Tier Phoenix Car Accident Attorney

A drunk driver who causes an accident in Arizona is likely to face criminal charges. They may face serious felony charges. That being said, the criminal case is not going to help you get financial compensation for your damages. You need to bring a civil legal claim. For this reason, it is crucial that you consult with a top-tier Phoenix car accident attorney. A lawyer who has experience with DUI accident cases can guide you through the legal process, help you understand your rights, and work to ensure you receive the full compensation you are entitled to under the law. Among other things, your lawyer will handle the negotiations with insurance companies. 

Personal Injury Tip: The big insurance companies are not on your side. Even when liability is clear—such as when the other driver was drunk and operating his or her vehicle recklessly—you can still expect that insurer to try to fight hard to pay out as little as possible. The best way to deal with insurance companies is through a Phoenix DUI accident attorney. 

Step #5: Seek Justice, Accountability, and the Maximum Compensation

Most DUI accident injury claims are settled. However, there are also some cases that end up in court. You need to be prepared to take action to get justice, accountability, and the maximum available financial support. Along with other types of damages, financial relief may be granted for: 

  • Vehicle repairs; 
  • Emergency room care; 
  • Hospital bills;
  • Ongoing physical therapy; 
  • Lost wages; 
  • Loss of earnings; 
  • Pain and suffering; 
  • Mental distress; 
  • Long-term disability; and
  • Wrongful death. 

Personal Injury Tip: Punitive damages are sometimes recoverable in DUI accident claims. Broadly speaking, punitive damages are a form of penalties damages that are imposed against the at-fault party but are awarded to the victim. In Arizona, they are only awarded in cases in which the defendant engaged in exceptionally reckless behavior. A top-tier Phoenix DUI accident attorney can help you and your family seek the absolute maximum financial compensation. 

Schedule a Free Consultation With Our Phoenix, AZ, Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer Today

At The Law Office of Paul J. Dombeck, PLLC, our Phoenix auto accident attorney has the skills and experience to handle drunk driving claims. If you or your loved one was hit by a drunk driver, we are here to help. Contact our personal injury firm today for your no-cost, no-obligation case review. With an office in Phoenix, we handle drunk driving accident claims throughout the region, including in Scottsdale, Glendale, Chandler, Tempe, Mesa, Gilbert, and Paradise Valley. 

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