DUI accidents injure thousands of people and result in thousands of deaths each year in the United States. According to the Illinois DOT, approximately 31 percent of the 1,000 fatal crashes that occurred in 2016 involved alcohol. When a drunk driver causes an accident, that driver may be held liable for the injuries and damages caused by the crash.
However, proving a driver was intoxicated at the time of the crash may not be sufficient to obtain compensation for the driver’s insurance provider. You may need to provide further evidence proving fault for the crash to succeed in recovering money for an insurance claim involving an alcohol-impaired driver.
Proving a Drunk Driver Caused the DUI Accident
If a driver is legally intoxicated at the time of a car accident, the driver could be charged with one or more drunk driving offenses. DUI charges are criminal charges. Accident victims will not receive compensation from a criminal case. They must file an accident claim with the driver’s insurance provider or file a personal injury lawsuit against the driver.
To recover compensation, an accident victim must prove the drunk driver was “at fault” for the crash. Even though it may be unlikely, an intoxicated driver could be involved in an accident that was not his fault. Illinois personal injury laws require the victim to prove that a driver’s actions directly caused the collision that resulted in the victim’s injuries before a victim can receive compensation from that driver.
For instance, you must prove that the drunk driver failed to yield the right of way, ran a stop sign, crossed over into your lane, or was guilty of other wrongdoing that created the situation that led to the collision. Evidence used to prove fault in a car accident may include:
- Police reports or accident reports
- Eyewitness testimony
- Video from traffic cameras or surveillance video from nearby companies
- Physical evidence from the accident scene and the vehicles
- Testimony from expert witnesses, such as accident reconstructionists who have analyzed the crash to determine cause and fault
A Chicago car accident attorney investigates the crash to gather evidence and build a case against the other driver.
The Insurance Company is Investigating the Crash Too
The insurance company for the other driver may be gathering evidence that it can use to limit liability for the crash. The company may refute the evidence you present, or it may present evidence it alleges proves that you caused or at least contributed to the cause of the crash. Anything the insurance company can do to shift blame for a crash can help reduce the amount of money it must pay to settle a claim.
Therefore, do not unintentionally give the insurance company evidence it might use against you. For example, do not agree to provide a written or recorded statement without consulting a Chicago car accident attorney. Likewise, do not sign a medical release for your records before you talk to an injury lawyer.
Insurance adjusters may be aggressive in seeking information from you. Some adjusters may attempt to convince you that you do not need an attorney. Remember, you have the right to legal counsel. The insurance company has attorneys and a team of industry professionals protecting its best interest. You deserve to have someone looking out for you too.
What Will the Insurance Company Pay for a Drunk Driving Accident?
Once you prove fault for a DUI accident, the insurance company may be liable for damages including:
- The cost of medical treatment, including future medical costs for disabilities and permanent impairments.
- The loss of income, including future lost wages or a loss in earning capacity.
- Damage to your vehicle and other personal property.
- Emotional, physical, and mental suffering and pain.
- Scarring, disabilities, and disfigurement.
- Other out-of-pocket financial losses related to the accident or your injuries.
The amount you may receive for an insurance claim depends on several factors, including fault, total financial losses, the severity of your injuries, and the policy limits of the insurance coverage.
What Should I Do after a DUI Accident?
If you suspect the driver is intoxicated, tell the 911 operator and the police officer when he arrives. Do not confront the driver or allege fault. A driver who is under the influence of alcohol can be unpredictable.
Try to take pictures or make videos of the accident scene, if possible. You should also make notes about what the other driver said and his actions after the crash. Eyewitness testimony can be very valuable, especially when an insurance company denies liability. If bystanders stop to help, you should ask for their names and contact information. Your attorney will interview the witnesses to determine if they have information that can help you with your insurance claim.
You should see a doctor as soon as possible to document your physical injuries and keep detailed records of your financial expenses and losses.
Contact a Chicago DUI Accident Lawyer for More Information
A Chicago DUI accident attorney will guide you through the process of filing an insurance claim for a drunk driving accident. Your attorney provides guidance and protects your legal rights. Contacting an attorney as early as possible can help you avoid mistakes that could hurt your claim. It can also relieve some of the stress you may be going through to allow an attorney to deal with the insurance company.
Call the Costa Ivone Injury Lawyers for a free consultation with a DUI accident attorney.