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What to Do if You Are Hit by a Drunk Driver

Perez & Perez Law PLLC Dec. 29, 2022

Drinking and driving is among the major causes of traffic accidents, injuries, and deaths in Washington State and across the United States. Being hit by a drunk driver or someone under the influence of drugs or alcohol can be a difficult and overwhelming experience. Washington State personal injury laws allow victims of alcohol-related traffic crashes to pursue additional forms of compensation than through a traditional injury claim or lawsuit. 

At Perez & Perez Law PLLC, we have the expertise and diligence to support and represent drunk driving accident victims and their family members in their claims. Our experienced Washington State personal injury attorneys can investigate every detail of your case, educate you and your family members about the next steps to take after being hit by a drunk driver, and help you and your family members pursue the financial justice you deserve. We proudly serve and represent clients throughout the State of Washington, including: King County, Snohomish County, Pierce County, Thurston County, Kittitas County, Island County, and Spokane County, Washington. 

Steps to Take if You are Hit by a Drunk Driver 

An alcohol-related traffic crash often leaves the victims extremely confused and unsettled. However, what you do – or fail to do – can have a significant impact on the outcome of your claims. Hence, when involved in a drunk driving accident, you should take the steps below, where possible: 

  • Stay Calm: Remain calm, and do not allow your emotions to overcome you. 

  • Report to Police: Report the drunk driving or what you believe to be someone driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol to the nearest police department or law enforcement office by calling 911. Law enforcement officers will assist in the investigation and you'll provide a detailed statement. 

  • Seek Medical Help: Accept the assistance of an ambulance or to be checked out by emergency responders. Make sure to receive immediate medical help for injuries to yourself and other accident victims. 

  • Documentation and Mental Notes: Take pictures of the accident scene. Get the names, address, and phone numbers of all witnesses. If you suspect intoxication, gather evidence and take mental notes of the drunk driver.  Remember key facts, such as: the driver's bloodshot or watery eyes; the smell of alcohol or other intoxicants; and/or slurred speech.

  • Safety: Get safely off the roadway. Help the other accident victims if you can. However, if someone is injured, unless they are in immediate danger (such as a car on fire), you don’t want to physically move them. Doing so could injure them further. 

  • Hire a Lawyer: Hire a skilled attorney with both civil and criminal experience to help navigate a personal injury claim involving a drunk driver.  Your lawyer will assist you in properly documenting your claim:

    • Recording the impact of the accident on your day-to-day life, work, or ability to earn a living. 

    • Notifying all applicable insurance carriers about the drunk driving accident. 

In addition, it is important that you act immediately to avoid misplacing vital documentation or forgetting crucial information. A highly-skilled Washington State car accident attorney can assess every surrounding detail of your unique situation, help file your claims, and seek to establish liability. 

Our firm and attorneys specialize in crime victim representation. With a background in criminal law, we are uniquely qualified to handle cases where our clients have been victims of drunk drivers and other traffic related crimes, including those who have suffered catastrophic injuries from those driving recklessly or under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Our criminal and civil experience is important because it brings a total understanding of these cases and how to utilize investigative techniques to gather police and accident reconstruction reports to fully maximize the medical and financial recovery of crime victims.

Liability in Drunk Driving Accidents  

Washington is a fault auto insurance state. According to the state's at-fault laws, the person who caused the accident (at-fault party or drunk driver) will be held financially responsible for medical expenses, property damages, and other accident-related losses suffered by the drunk driving accident victims. 

What's more, according to Washington State laws, driving while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or any controlled substance is considered negligence per se. Therefore, a drunk driver who causes an accident is automatically considered negligent. 

To prove negligence per se in a personal injury case, the claimant must show the following elements: 

  • The at-fault party violated a safety law or regulation designed to protect against the alleged harm. 

  • The plaintiff belongs to the class that the safety law or regulation was intended to protect. 

  • The at-fault party's violation of the law caused the claimant's injury. 

Depending on the surrounding circumstances, the alleged drunk driver who caused the accident or injury will be held liable. Also, since drunk driving is a criminal offense in the state, it should be relatively easy for the claimant to establish negligence or liability. However, a bar owner may also be held responsible, under certain conditions, for selling or serving alcohol to a driver in Washington State.  

Washington's Dram Shop Law 

In Washington State, serving intoxicating liquor or alcoholic beverages to minors (individuals below 21 years) and someone who appears to be under the influence is prohibited. According to Washington Dram Shop Law, an alcohol vendor may be held liable for selling liquor to a minor – or a person who is apparently under the influence of alcohol – who then injures someone else.  

Our firm has represented clients injured as a result of a private business' overserving of their patrons and/or employees.

Filing a Wrongful Death Claim  

However, if the alcohol-related accident resulted in a loss of life, the surviving loved ones of the decedent may be eligible to bring a wrongful death action. Under Washington law, only the personal representative or executor of the deceased person's estate may file a wrongful death claim. A trusted wrongful death lawyer can advocate for your best interests and help pursue your rightful financial compensation. 

Our firm has represented family members of those injured and/or killed by the harmful act of those who cause collisions after consuming alcohol or drugs. There are unique investigative tools involved in gathering evidence involved in the criminal case that can and should be used to support a prompt resolution of the civil case for damages.

We represent our clients and their family members through the entire process: the criminal prosecution of the at-fault driver; seeking civil protection orders; and during the civil claim for damages.

Turn to Perez & Perez Law PLLC for Guidance 

Getting hurt in an auto crash involving a drunk driver can be overwhelming and can affect you and your family physically, emotionally, and financially. Regardless, you and your family do not have to go through the financial liability challenges all by yourself. At Perez & Perez Law PLLC, we're dedicated to providing compassionate representation and skilled advocacy to clients in their drunk driving accident claims. 

As your attorney, we can investigate every detail of your case thoroughly. Our reliable legal team will fight aggressively to protect your legal rights, strive to hold the responsible drunk driver liable, and help you and your family members fight to recover financial compensation to cover all of your injuries, damages, and losses. 

Have you or someone you know been hit by a drunk driver? Contact us at Perez & Perez Law PLLC today to schedule a direct consultation with one of our seasoned personal injury attorneys. Our dependable legal team can walk you through the complex claims process and help you navigate crucial decisions in your case. We proudly serve and represent clients throughout the State of Washington, including: King County, Snohomish County, Pierce County, Thurston County, Kittitas County, Island County, and Spokane County, Washington.