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10 Important Steps to Take After Being Hit by a Drunk Driver

Being the victim of a drunk driving accident can be extremely traumatic, both physically and emotionally. While your initial concern is likely medical care, it’s also crucial to take important legal and financial steps to protect yourself in the aftermath. 

In this guide, we’ll outline the 10 most important steps to take after being hit by an intoxicated driver.

1. Seek Medical Attention Immediately

Regardless of how severe your injuries seem, you need to be examined by medical professionals as soon as possible after the crash. Symptoms of some injuries can take time to manifest. Seeking immediate medical care serves two purposes: documenting your injuries and preventing further harm. Call 911 or ask someone to drive you to the nearest emergency room.

2. Report the Accident to the Police

Contact the police to officially report the drunk driving accident. Provide them with essential details like the location, vehicles involved, visible injuries, and the drunk driver’s identity if possible. Having an official report will be crucial for your legal, insurance, and financial claims related to the crash.

3. Gather Information and Document Evidence

While waiting for the police and medical attention, try to write down as many details as you can recall and collect evidence:

  • Names and contact info of witnesses, plus their recounts of what happened 
  • Photos and videos of damage, injuries, skid marks, location, etc. 
  • Bad driver’s name, license plate, insurance, and contact details. 
  • Damage assessments – write quick notes and take photos. 

Thorough documentation will help show liability and losses for legal negotiations and claims.

4. Contact a DUI Accident Attorney

Speaking with an experienced drunk driving accident lawyer should be one of your very next calls. Though you may want to go through insurance alone initially, having counsel from an attorney experienced in handling hit by a drunk driver lawyer cases can help tremendously during claims and civil action. Key attorney support includes:

  • Maximize financial damages and compensation. 
  • Deal with aggressive drunk driver insurance firms. 
  • File police reports and collect evidence properly. 
  • Handle complex legal proceedings. 
  • Allow you to focus on recovery instead of complex legal steps. 

Comparative negligence laws can complicate DUI crash claims – it helps greatly to have an expert on your side.

Data Source: FBI Uniform Crime Reporting 

5. File Reports with Your Insurance Company

Contact your auto insurance provider to open a claim as the victim of a drunk driving collision. This helps cover crash-related expenses like:

  • Medical treatment co-pays and bills. 
  • Lost wages from missing work. 
  • Repair or replacement of your vehicle. 
  • Other costs stemming from accident injuries or trauma. 

Most standard policies have uninsured motorist bodily injury and property damage coverage. But policies differ – your provider will guide you through specifics.

6. Do Not Accept an Early Settlement Offer

Drunk driving crash injuries and financial impacts sometimes take weeks or months to fully manifest. The at-fault motorist’s insurance company may try to push you towards an early, lowball settlement to limit their payout.

Before signing any release of claims or liability, consult with your DUI attorney. Accepting an insufficient early offer can eliminate your ability to recoup further costs down the road. Patience is key. Document ongoing medical issues to demonstrate emerging damages during negotiations.

7. Track All Crash-Related Costs and Communication

Opening a claim file yourself to track every crash-related expense, document, call, and email is wise. This helps identify all drunk driving accident costs and liabilities for legal action and insurance or civil claims. Track things like:

  • Ongoing medical invoices and appointments. 
  • Lost income from missed work days. 
  • Insurance communication – save copies of all paperwork. 
  • Police reports and attorney interactions. 

Thorough documentation demonstrates the full financial impacts resulting from the collision.

8. Focus on Treatment and Recovery

Caring for your health needs to take priority after a DUI crash. Follow all medical guidance, attend appointments consistently, communicate emerging symptoms, and give yourself ample time to heal. 

Trying to take on too much legal or administrative work yourself can impede your recovery. Leaning on professionals like attorneys and insurance advisors is key.

9. Seek Help for Emotional Impacts

Being hit by an impaired driver can spark traumatic stress that leads to extended emotional impacts like:

  • Anxiety while driving or as a passenger. 
  • Flashbacks to the jarring collision. 
  • Difficulty concentrating or sleeping. 
  • Lingering agitation, anger, sadness, or pain. 

Seeking counseling or support groups can help substantially if you experience these or other drunk driving accident trauma symptoms. Emotional support plays a vital role in the healing process, alongside physical recovery.

10. Commit to Safety Improvements Going Forward

While recovering, assess what proactive steps you might take to prevent similar collisions in the future, for both yourself and others. Actions like:

  • Allowing extra following distance from other vehicles. 
  • Speaking out to prevent friends from driving drunk. 
  • Supporting advocacy groups combating intoxicated driving. 
  • Voting for safety-focused policymakers. 

Making small improvements can offer a sense of purpose amid the tragedy.


What should I do at the scene of a drunk driving accident?

First, seek emergency medical care right away if needed. Also gather key information and evidence like witness accounts, photos of damage, police contact details, and information on the intoxicated driver. Reporting the crash to authorities promptly aids the legal and claims process.

How much financial compensation might I receive after a drunk driving crash?

Every case is unique based on the extent of injuries, damage, lost income, and more. But Ohio DUI crash data shows average settlement payouts of around $180,000 per injured victim. An attorney maximizes your potential drunk driving settlement amount based on documented impact severity.

How can I check if other driver’s insurance will fully cover my drunk driving damages?

Many states have online insurance verification tools, so you can confirm the drunk motorist’s policy maximums. An attorney subpoenas insurers to reveal coverage limits as well. Underinsured and uninsured motorist coverage from your policy helps fill gaps if needed too.

How long might the DUI crash settlement process take?

Less severe cases with minimal negotiations can sometimes settle in 6 months. But the average drunk driving insurance claim takes 12-18 months with attorney involvement. Complex cases involving serious injuries, disabilities, or fatalities often take over 2 years to reach monetary settlements through drawn-out legal processes.


Being the victim of a drunk driving crash sparks immense disruption – physically, emotionally, legally, and financially. Following these steps empowers you to restore order, receive due compensation, direct blame properly, and move positively into the future. 

Focus on recovery while leaning on key professionals to handle legal complexities stemming from the accident. There is light ahead – stay diligent with these drunk driving accident response steps to progress steadily towards it through the difficult road of healing.