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What happens when you are hit by a drunk driver ...why is it different than just a simple car accident?

 

     It happens every night in downtown Atlanta and throughout Georgia.  On your way home, stopped at a light, you are hit from behind by another car.  After the shock, you realize you have been in a car accident.  Even though you are hurt, you try and check on the other driver.  You wonder are they okay?  As you approach them several things happen.  As you wait for the police you check on the other driver.  When you talk to the other driver you notice they slur their words, or you smell the alcohol on their breath.  You realize that they have been drinking and are a drunk driver.

- Your concern can turn to anger and rage in a heartbeat
- The person who hit you has been drinking
- Thoughts flash rapidly through your head
- The DUI driver could have killed you
- How much have they had to drink?
- Will the insurance company still pay to fix your car since he was drinking?
- Will you have to testify?
- What does the DUI have to do with your injuries?

This occurs when a car accident is not severe, but what about when the DUI drunk driver flees after hitting you and causing the car accident?  This is called a hit and run.  What happens if the police don’t catch the drunk driver until the next day after the alcohol has worn off?

Unfortunately, many times the drunk driving victims are hurt more than the drunk driver.  This is one of the reasons that there is such anger towards drunk drivers. 

A second reason that drunk driver victims have such anger is because the drunk driver chooses to drink and drive.  Everyone knows the effects of alcohol on your ability to drive.  A drunk driver chooses to get behind the wheel of a car after drinking.  They know how much they have had to drink.  They then choose to drink and drive and they were then in a car accident because they could not control their vehicle.

     If you or a loved one were hit by a drunk driver your anger is justified.
Did you know that drunk drivers causes 33% of car accident fatalities a year
Did you know that drunk driving kills 13,846 Drunk driving victims a year?
Did you know that the law allows drunk driving victims to seek punitive damages to try and stop or deter a drunk driver from drinking and driving again?
Did you know a drunk driver’s criminal history is admissible in your car accident case if they have a prior criminal history of drinking and driving.
Many of our Atlanta clients who were victims of drunk driving turn to us and ask what do they do next?

    My job as a lawyer for drunk driving victims and advocate against drinking and driving is to answer their questions.  Since I have dealt with this situation a lot, I can help my clients through this process.  It’s different than a regular car accident because of the drinking.  The legal questions are sometimes the easiest:
How do I get my vehicle fixed after the car accident?
- Can I see my own doctor for my injuries?
- Can I see a chiropractor for my injuries?
- Should I use my health insurance?
- Will the drunk driver’s insurance fix my car?
- Did the drunk driver even have car insurance?

Many times though they are specific to being hit by a drunk driver:

- Do I have to go to the drunk driver’s criminal hearing?
- Should I talk to the judge or prosecuting attorney or solicitor at the drunk driver's court hearing?
- Can I get restitution?
- How do I deal with the anger I have towards the drunk driver?
- Should I try and talk to the drunk driver?
- Can I still collect pain and suffering?
- What does the law say I am entitled to since he hurt me?
- What is victim’s assistance and should I talk to them?
- Is it okay to feel angry towards the Drunk Driver?
- What if I feel sorry for the drunk driver?

About the last two questions, many victims of drunk driving feel both angry and sad for the drunk driver.  Sometimes they go from one to the other and back again.  It is normal to feel this way.  It is normal to want to see the drunk driver punished for hurting you or a loved one and for what could have happened or for what may have happened.

If you have questions about being a hit by a drunk driver or your car accident, we want to help.  You can find many answers to general questions at our:
Drunk Driving Victims Frequently Asked Questions
Drunk Driving Victims Article Library
For information about support groups for victims of Drunk Driving in Atlanta, Georgia
For information about our firm and how we help victims of DUI find us here


Shane Smith
Advocate for the Seriously Injured in Georgia