If you were injured by a drunk driver, you may have trouble receiving compensation. You will need to bring a civil suit against the driver in addition to any criminal suit since the criminal courts will not address your monetary losses when they decide whether or not to put the drunk driver behind bars.
The State of Texas has a statute of limitations–two years–for filing civil suits against drunk drivers. These steps will help you make sure that you collect the payments you deserve for your injuries, expenses, and future pain and suffering:
1. Seek Medical Attention Immediately
Even if your injuries seem minor, you need to seek medical attention right away. If the police are on the scene, make sure to tell the officers about any pain you are experiencing or injuries that have appeared. If paramedics are on the scene, ask to be checked out so that you can get documentation of your injuries.
If your injuries are not reported right away, it’s possible that the drunk driver’s insurance company or attorney will attempt to say your injuries are not a direct result of the accident.
2. Talk to the Police and Get the Report
Sometimes the police are eager to arrest a drunk driver and send the critically injured off to the hospital while the walking wounded are left to fend for themselves. At the accident scene, if you are able, make sure to provide your information to the officers and report your version of the accident. Ask where and when the accident report will be available. Take the time to get a copy of the report.
The accident report will also have the information of the drunk driver, which is key for being compensated for your losses.
3. Find an Advocate for You
Now that you are home tending to your injuries or being treated at the hospital, it’s time to start making calls. When faced with stressful situations, it can be tempting to expect the help of your insurance company, but they are not working in your best interests. They want to minimize the amount of cash you receive for your injuries. You need a personal injury lawyer who has experience communicating with insurance companies and dealing with other lawyers.
What Compensation are You Entitled To?
- Coverage for all your medical bills related to the accident
- Rehabilitation expenses
- Lost wages due to injury
- Pain and suffering for the current injury and during your recovery
- Payment for damaged or lost property, i.e., your car, laptop, phone, and even clothing
4. File a Claim with Your Insurance Company, but DON’T Sign a Waiver
You, of course, want to file an accident claim with your insurance company right away. If your injuries are minor, the minimum liability insurance required to be carried by every driver in Texas will be able to compensate you and will save you time. However, your insurance company may try to withhold payment unless you sign a waiver stating that you will be asking for no further payment.
Do not sign that waiver until you have consulted with your personal injury attorney and your doctor. Some injuries may require extended rehabilitation and further, unforeseen complications may arise. Your lawyer will help you get paid while leaving the door open for further compensation, should you need it.
5. Never Speak to Their Attorney or Insurance Representative by Yourself
If the accident was caused by a drunk driver, there is a good chance that their criminal defense attorney will try to contact you. They may want to minimize the apparent severity of your injuries to protect the drunk driver in court. In addition, the drunk driver’s insurance company will be eager to write you a check without following through on your complete medical diagnosis.
If the drunk driver’s attorney or insurance company calls you, ask them to call your attorney. Your attorney will answer all the questions they have while ensuring that you remain in the position to receive complete compensation for your injuries.