Drunk Driving Victims: Know Your Rights

By Jon Lewis on Oct 15 in Car Accident, Lewis & Feldman Blog.

Drunk Driving Victims: Know Your Rights

Drunk driving remains a serious public health problem in Alabama. According to data cited by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an average of 260 people are killed in DUI crashes in Alabama each year. Many more suffer serious injuries in collisions caused by drunk driving or drugged driving. If you were a victim of a DUI crash, it is imperative that you take proactive steps to protect yourself and your interests. DUI accident victims deserve justice, accountability, and the maximum available financial compensation. Here, our Birmingham drunk driving accident attorneys provide an overview of your rights in Alabama. 

What to Do After Being Hit By a Drunk Driver in Birmingham, AL

The aftermath of a DUI accident in Alabama is complicated. You may not even be sure as to whether or not the other motorist is under the influence. It is crucial that you take proactive steps to protect your best interests. Here are four steps to take after a DUI crash in Birmingham: 

  • Report the Suspected DUI Crash to the Police: Your first step after being hit by a drunk driver in Birmingham should be to call the police. Report the accident and inform the authorities that you suspect the other driver is under the influence of alcohol.
  • Seek Prompt Medical Care for Any Injuries: All DUI accident injuries require a comprehensive examination by a licensed physician. Your health and well-being take priority. Further, you must have medical records to bring a personal injury claim. 
  • Document Your Accident and Your Injuries: Keep a detailed record of the accident, including pictures of the accident scene, your vehicle, and any visible injuries. Gather contact information from witnesses and keep all medical records and bills. 
  • Consult With a Lawyer Before Giving a Statement to an Insurer: An insurance company—even your own provider—is not on your side. Consult with an experienced Birmingham, AL, DUI accident lawyer before giving a statement to an insurance adjuster. 

Your Rights as a Drunk Driving Accident Victim in Alabama

Were you hurt in a drunk driving crash or a drugged driving crash in Alabama? You need to understand your rights. The DUI accident claims process can be exceptionally complex. Here are four key rights that all DUI accident victims have in Alabama: 

  • You Have the Right to Seek Medical Care: Medical needs take priority. After being hurt in a drunk driving accident, you need to see a doctor. In Alabama, you have the unassailable right to immediate and comprehensive medical attention. Ensure that you get thoroughly checked for both visible injuries and underlying issues that may manifest later on. Unfortunately, DUI accidents can result in catastrophic or even life-threatening injuries. Prompt medical care is essential. Notably, you have the right to pursue compensation for your medical bills from the drunk driver. 
  • You Have the Right to Be Informed of a Criminal Trial: A DUI is a criminal violation. The drunk driver will likely face a criminal charge in addition to your civil personal injury claim. As a victim of crime in Alabama, you have a right to be informed about the criminal trial of the accused drunk driver. Among other things, the relevant information that you can access regarding the drunk driving criminal case includes court dates, trial progress, and the final verdict. Being in the loop concerning the trial proceedings helps you stay updated on the actions taken against the offender. A criminal DUI trial could also be relevant to your personal injury claim. 
  • You Have the Right to Compensation for Your Full Damages: Alabama is an at-fault motor vehicle accident state. Drunk driving accident victims have a right to hold the at-fault motorist legally responsible for the full extent of their damages, including both economic losses and non-economic losses. You may be entitled to recover financial compensation for vehicle repairs, medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages. A lawyer can help you secure the maximum settlement or verdict. 
  • You Have the Right to Seek Professional Legal Counsel: You do not have to take on a DUI accident injury claim alone. To ensure that your rights are not infringed upon and to navigate the legal complexities of your case, you have the right to hire an experienced Alabama auto accident attorney. As there are some unique considerations that can apply to DUI accident claims, it is best to work with a lawyer who has proven experience handling these types of cases. 

Recovering Compensation for a Drunk Driving Crash in Alabama

Following a DUI accident in Birmingham or elsewhere in Alabama, it is imperative that injured victims are able to secure the absolute maximum financial support. Unfortunately, the insurance companies that handle these claims are aggressive. They put their own best interests before what is right for you and your family. Along with other types of damages, DUI may be entitled to recover monetary damages for: 

  • Vehicle repairs; 
  • Emergency room care; 
  • Medical bills; 
  • Physical therapy; 
  • Lost wages;
  • Loss of earnings; 
  • Pain and suffering; 
  • Long-term disability; and
  • Wrongful death. 

Notably, in some DUI cases, punitive damages may be awarded. Punitive damages are a form of penalty damages designed to punish gross negligence. Under Alabama Code 1-11-20(b)(3), punitive damages can only be awarded if “it is proven by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant consciously or deliberately engaged in oppression, fraud, wantonness, or malice with regard to the plaintiff.” Drunk driving can constitute malice in Alabama. 

Contact Our Birmingham, AL, DUI Accident Lawyers Today

At Lewis & Feldman, LLC, our Alabama auto accident attorneys have the specialized skills, experience, and legal expertise to take on the full range of DUI accident claims. If you or your loved one was hurt in a DUI crash, we are here to help. Call us now at 205-896-6410 or contact us online for a no-cost, no-obligation consultation. With a law office in Birmingham, we fight for the rights of drunk-driving accident victims and drugged-driving accident victims throughout Alabama. 

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