Most of the time, travel, food, and drinks are a winning combination. People who love traveling enjoy trying unique dishes and old wine flavors. Non-travelers may enjoy pub-crawling in their own cities to try most of the drinks on the menu. Either way, responsible drinkers get an Uber or taxi at the end of the night. Dangerous drinkers decide to get behind the wheel themselves.
Because not everyone chooses to drink and not drive, innocent people get hurt. Around 29 people die every day in the U.S. in accidents with drunk drivers. And for most victims, the road to recovery after a drunk driving collision is painful and challenging. But fortunately, all is not lost. Consider the following steps to help you rebuild your life.
The Aftermath of a Drunk Driving Accident
The immediate aftermath of a traumatic experience, like a drunk driving car accident, is filled with chaos and confusion. If you are severely injured, you will likely spend weeks in a hospital or rehabilitation center. If you do not have medical insurance, the hospital bills will have piled up. If you do not lose your job but are still recovering at home, you are probably wondering if you will have a job to return to.
This can all become overwhelming very quickly, especially if you are also considering legal steps against the drunk driver. The key here is to surround yourself with loved ones who can help you focus on your recovery. And your physical well-being is the most important factor. Even if you received only minor injuries, you must visit a doctor for a full check-up. What may seem minor now could result in health-related issues in the future. Ask the doctor to help you document everything, including every work-up, consultation, and treatment plan. When you are over the worst shock of the accident, this information will help you build a foundation for legal action against the driver.
Taking Time to Recover and Grieve
If you lost a loved one in the collision, give yourself enough time to grieve them. Your ultimate recovery and the grieving process go hand-in-hand. You can join a support group like NOVA (National Organization for Victim Assistance). Here, you will find emotional resources and guidance on how to direct your grief. It may be tempting to skip this step, but if you want to build a legal case against the drunk driver, you must have your emotions in the right place. Legal proceedings are emotionally draining, so you must be well prepared.
Holding a Drunk Driver Accountable for Their Crime
Driving while under the influence of alcohol is a criminal offense in all U.S. states. This means you can sue for damages, even if your state does not charge the drunk driver with a DUI. If you do not want to go to court, you can try to settle your claim outside of the courtroom and still get compensation. However, this can only happen if the driver agrees they are at fault and offers to pay you a lump sum. Your lawyer will decide whether the driver’s settlement amount is fair. If you agree to the settlement, you cannot sue the driver in the future. The payment must cover all expenses, including medical bills and lost income.
Also, be aware of the statute of limitations as it applies to your state. If you wait too long to initiate legal action, you may not be able to sue at all.
Going to Court
If you don’t accept the driver’s settlement offer and want to file a lawsuit, you must have the evidence to support your case. Get all the documentation ready, including police reports, witness statements, and your medical records. All of these documents must prove, in some measure, that the drunk driver caused the accident and your injuries (and the death of your loved one). You should also present proof of lost income or a lost job. Your lawyer will instruct you on which documents are most important in your specific case.
When you have filed the lawsuit, you will attend the court proceedings. This process can be tough, but the outcome will be either a severe judgment or a settlement large enough to cover all your expenses.
Don’t Lose Hope
It’s not easy to recover from harrowing experiences like drunk driving accidents. Even though pursuing legal action may seem like you’re out for revenge, it is not about that at all. Your legal case helps hold the driver accountable for their destructive actions. It may also prevent them from causing another devastating accident in the future. Remember this as you rebuild your life one step at a time.