As the holiday season and accompanying Christmas and work parties are now in full swing, the risk of drunk drivers has increased substantially. Across the country, over the past 5 years, an average of 300 people died in drunk driving crashes the week between Christmas and New Year. Alcohol-impaired fatalities make up more than a quarter of all crash fatalities. In 2016, 781 people lost their lives in drunk-driving-related crashes in the month of December alone. Given the increased likelihood of crashes and injuries caused by drunk drivers this time of year, it is important to understand your rights and follow this advice if you are injured by a drunk driver:
(1) Call the police immediately! It is not uncommon for people to think that they are able to handle minor car crashes themselves with a simple exchange of insurance information and phone numbers. This is a terrible idea. Not only is it important to have the police corroborate and memorialize what happened with an investigation, witness interviews, and a formal police report, but allowing the drunk driver to leave the scene without police intervention will all but certainly destroy any opportunity to preserve the evidence regarding their intoxication. Of course, this evidence can be crucial for your case with regard to both liability and damages.
(2) Take pictures or videos of any evidence of intoxication at the scene of the accident. If you see incriminating evidence of intoxication, such as liquor bottles or open containers in the car, capture that evidence with pictures or videos. While taking these pictures and videos, be aware of the Illinois eavesdropping law which requires a two-party consent requirement for conversations where the people involved have a “reasonable expectation” of privacy.
(3) When in doubt, seek immediate medical attention. Given the nature of many types of neck and back injuries, symptoms may not truly manifest for hours or even days following a car collision. If you wait to receive medical attention, the Defendant’s insurance company will likely attempt to use that against you in arguing that your injury is not as severe as you claim, or that your injury was not caused by the car crash.
(4) Contact your attorney at Eames Law Group, Ltd. immediately to investigate the allegations of drunk driving and preserve your rights against other potentially liable defendants. While it is obvious that you can bring a case against the drunk driver, there may be many other potential defendants to target. Under the provisions of the Illinois Dram Shop Act, you may be able to bring a case against the bar or restaurant which sold the drunk driver the alcohol which caused him or her to become intoxicated. If the drunk driver was leaving or traveling to a company party, it is possible you may be able to bring a case against his or her employer as well. These details could potentially mean the difference between a substandard insurance recovery and millions of dollars. Not only would this information not be readily available without professional investigation, but dram shop cases have much shorter deadlines for filing suit. If you wait too long, your case will become time barred.
Any injury caused by a drunk driver is no simple matter, and it can have a life-altering impact resulting in significant damages. You owe it to yourself to contact Attorney Brent Eames to discuss your rights and protect your interests.
The content of this blog is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute or establish an attorney-client relationship, nor constitute legal advice. If you wish to discuss any further aspect of the material contained herein, please contact an attorney at Eames Law Group, Ltd.