Hit by a Drunk Driver?
How to Protect Your Rights in West Virginia
Were you hit by a driver you believe was drunk or under the influence of drugs? Unfortunately, this situation is all too common in Morgantown and throughout all of West Virginia. The following information has been provided courtesy of Angotti & Straface Attorneys at Law, L.C.
DUI Victim Guidelines
1. Contact the Nearest Police Department Immediately.
2. Collect Information & Evidence.
3. Seek Medical Treatment ASAP
4. Contact a Personal Injury Attorney to Protect Your Rights.
5. Do NOT Discuss the Accident With Anyone Until You Have Retained Legal Counsel.
6. Let Your Insurance Company Know What Happened.
Contact the Nearest Police Department Immediately
The accident must be documented. Stick to the facts. Do not provide any more information or elaboration than you are asked to provide, including your assumption that the other driver was drunk. If the individual was swerving, driving erratically, etc., you may mention it if asked. If you are questioned regarding injuries, do not claim that you are uninjured. Most DUI victims involved in vehicle collisions are not sure whether they are injured or not. Because our bodies are flooded with endorphins (the body’s natural pain and stress fighters) after an accident, it can be hard to determine whether or not we are injured. Simply tell the police that you are unsure whether or not you are injured. If offered medical assistance, accept it. Individuals victimized by DUI collisions may have serious internal injuries they are not immediately aware of.
Collect Information & Evidence
Record the name, address, phone number, driver’s license number, license plate number, and insurance company name and policy number of the driver/owner of the other vehicle(s). If possible, take pictures/videos of the vehicles involved, any visible injuries to all DUI victims’ bodies, and the contact information of any witnesses. Take note if there are CCTV cameras nearby. They may have recorded the accident. If the impaired driver is exhibiting unusual behavior, you may be able to record the actions the other party is showing if you can safely do so. If you feel threatened by the other driver and do not feel safe talking to him, simply record as many details as possible and allow the police to collect the relevant information. Be sure to ask for the claim number so you can obtain a copy of the police accident report. It will contain all of the information you need to report to your insurance company, as well as your lawyer.
Seek Immediate Medical Treatment
Aside from protecting your health, obtaining prompt medical treatment and professional documentation, diagnosis, and treatment of your injuries protects your right to pursue the maximum financial compensation allowed by law. DUI victims should accept all offers of medical assistance following the accident. This may include on-scene first aid provided by emergency responders, an offer of a ride to the nearest doctor or hospital, a neck brace, and other offers of treatment that medical personnel or responding law enforcement agents deem important.
Contact a Personal Injury Attorney Right Away
Time is of the essence! A DUI criminal case may be occurring and additional information may be available to assist with your civil lawsuit for damages. Contact Angotti & Straface Attorneys at Law as soon as possible (preferably within 24 hours). Since 1952, we have been Morgantown’s trusted law firm with proven results for victims of drunk drivers throughout the entire state of West Virginia. Call: (304) 292-4381.
Do NOT Discuss the DUI Accident With Anyone
Do not make posts on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) about the accident involving the DUI driver. Other than alerting your immediate family and parties with a definite need to know (such as medical personnel, police, emergency responders, and your employer), do not talk to anyone about the accident and do not provide any details other than the fact that you were a victim involved in an accident and, if questioned, the fact that you are not sure if you are injured. Your attorney can provide further recommendations to help you protect your legal rights as you move forward.
Let Your Insurance Company Know About the DUI Accident
In most cases, you have 72 hours to report the accident involving the intoxicated DUI driver; however, you should refer to your automobile insurance policy to verify the specific requirements you are bound to. As with the police, stick to the facts and do not elaborate. Your personal injury attorney may want to be present or provide additional guidance if you will be independently informing your insurance company about the accident.
We Can Hold Bars & Liquor Stores Accountable for DUI Injuries
When you hire Angotti & Straface Attorneys at Law as your personal injury legal team, we aggressively pursue all possible avenues of liability for our victimized clients. As always, the time to collect valuable information and evidence about your case is limited. When you contact us right away, we can determine if there are additional at-fault parties responsible for your DUI accident injuries. In some cases, we can hold any bartenders, bars, restaurants, liquor stores, convenience stores, and others liable if they served or sold alcohol to a clearly inebriated individual who then got behind the wheel and caused your injuries. Do not wait. Call us right now so we can prepare the most thorough legal representation on your behalf: (304) 292-4381.
Signs of Drunk & Drugged DUI Drivers
It can be helpful to be aware of some of the most common behaviors that may signal that a driver may be drunk or under the influence of drugs so that you can avoid them. The signs of a possible DUI driver include: swerving between lanes, failing to stop at or obey traffic lights and signs, driving on the shoulder or up the middle of the road, following other cars too closely, making excessively wide turns, and driving much faster or slower than the posted speed limit (in excess of 10 mph).
How to Safely Deal With Bad or Inexperienced Drivers
Unfortunately, the signs listed above are not definitive proof that a driver is impaired. A driver may be hauling a sensitive load, taking time to enjoy the scenery, in a rush, an older individual with slower response time who is doing his best to drive safely, or he may simply be a young or inexperienced driver, as we all were at one time. Although it may be annoying and even illegal in some cases, it is important to remember that not all “bad” drivers are drunk. This is one reason why you should not assert with certainty that the driver who hit you was intoxicated. It could affect your credibility.
If you witness a driver exhibiting any of these behaviors, be sure to practice your defensive driving skills by leaving extra space between your vehicle and the suspect vehicle while paying extra attention to your surroundings. In any case, do not get too close, beep your horn at, or otherwise attempt to intimidate a driver exhibiting questionable driving skills. Remain calm. Keep in mind that not all drivers possess the same level of driving skills that you possess. You do not want to contribute to causing an accident by terrorizing unskilled drivers. If possible, simply choose an alternate route or pass the vehicle when it is safe to do so.
Have you been seriously injured by a drunk or drug-impaired driver? If so, contact Angotti & Straface Attorneys at Law right now: (304) 292-4381. We offer a complimentary initial consultation for victims of intoxicated drivers and there is never a fee unless we collect damages on your behalf. Our law firm represents injured clients in Parkersburg, Huntington, Charleston, Wheeling, Morgantown, and throughout West Virginia.