Despite measures taken throughout Nevada, including sobriety checkpoints, an estimated 1.8% of Nevada drivers admit to driving after drinking too much within the past 30 days alone. Drunk drivers have a much higher risk of causing accidents than sober drivers, since they may struggle with tunnel vision, have a hard time keeping their vehicles on the road, and lack the response time needed to safely avoid accidents.
Reporting the Accident to the Police
If you have an accident with a drunk driver, the first thing you should do is report the accident. If you suffered serious injuries in the crash, a call to 9-1-1 will summon both the police and an ambulance.
A drunk driver may try to talk you into not reporting the accident. In addition to the civil penalties from the accident itself, which the insurance company will take the brunt of, driving while intoxicated can carry serious criminal penalties, including fines, license loss, and even jail time. An inebriated driver may not want to go through a blood alcohol test or have a drunk driving conviction on his record.
Young drivers, or people who drive for a living, may make a compelling case for why you should just take the accident through insurance. However, if you do not report the accident, you may have a much harder time getting compensation for either property damage or any injuries you may sustain in the drunk driving accident. A driver who does not want to admit liability to the police may not want to confess that inebriation, or the associated mistakes, to his insurance company, either–and without proof, you may have a much longer road to compensation.
Mentioning Inebriation to the Police
When the police arrive at the scene, they will have the chance to observe the driver’s actions for themselves. Many drunk drivers will show obvious signs of inebriation while at the scene of the accident: stumbling around, slurring their words, or acting inappropriately. Other times, the drunk driver may try to conceal those signs of inebriation.
Let the police know about any signs of inebriation you observed, including swerving around the road, driving erratically, or clear signs of inebriation when the driver got out of the vehicle. Keep in mind that other conditions, including very high blood sugar in a diabetic or traumatic brain injury from the accident, can mimic some of the signs of drunken behavior.
You May Need to Take a Blood Alcohol Test
If the police suspect the driver of driving while intoxicated, they may conduct a blood alcohol test, usually a breathalyzer test, at the scene of the accident. A breathalyzer test can help establish the driver’s blood alcohol content and offer evidence of inebriation, which may help with your later claim.
The Importance of Seeking Medical Attention
After any type of serious car accident, you should always seek medical attention, even if you believe you did not sustain serious injuries. If you have significant damage to your vehicle, let a doctor rule out any serious injuries. Not only can that increase the odds that you will properly treat any injuries and prevent further weakness and limitation, but it can also provide evidence of when your injuries took place, which may make it easier to establish your right to a personal injury claim.
Contacting a Lawyer
After your drunk driving accident, get in touch with a lawyer to learn more about your right to compensation. An attorney can help prove that the other driver’s negligence caused your accident and can lay out the compensation you deserve in a simple, understandable way, which can help guide you as you move forward with a personal injury claim after your car accident.
How the Driver’s Inebriated State Impacts Your Claim
If you suffered injuries in a drunk driving accident, does it impact your right to file a personal injury claim or the compensation you can recover? There are several things to consider.
The Other Driver’s Inebriation Can Help Establish That He or She Caused the Accident
In cases of disputed liability, a clear drunk driving conviction, including a blood alcohol test that establishes that the other driver’s blood-alcohol level was well over the legal limit of .08, can help establish that the other driver’s actions contributed substantially to the accident. On the other hand, if the other driver is not convicted of driving while intoxicated, that does not change your right to file a claim for any damage to yourself or your vehicle due to the other driver’s negligent actions.
Drunk Driving Accidents Can Cause Greater Injury Than Other Types of Auto Accidents
Drunk drivers may have a harder time responding to potentially dangerous circumstances or may prove more likely to miss the presence of other vehicles around them, so they may cause accidents with more serious injuries. The more serious your injuries, the greater your overall losses, and so the more compensation you may need to claim.
You May Be Able to Receive Punitive Damages from the Criminal Case, if Applicable
If the other driver is convicted of driving while intoxicated, and you faced substantial financial or personal losses because of the injuries you suffered in the accident, the court may assign punitive damages. Those damages are separate from your personal injury claim. Punitive damages may depend on the extent of your injuries and losses, the drunk driver’s assets and ability to pay, and the severity of the offense.
You should not count on punitive damages, which are paid directly by the drunk driver, not by an insurance company. However, if you do receive them, they can help balance your finances following a serious drunk driving accident.
Contact the Attorneys at Pacific West Injury Law for Help with Your Drunk Driving Claim
Dealing with the aftermath of a drunk driving accident can feel overwhelming. Pacific West Injury Law can help. Contact us today for a free consultation about your Las Vegas drunk driving accident and the compensation you may deserve.