What Are Your Options after Being Hit by a Drunk Driver in Utah?
When you get into a car accident, it can be confusing and difficult, especially if you were severely injured. If the other driver was drunk, things can be even more difficult. Drunk driving is a serious – and dangerous – criminal offense. If you are injured by a drunk driver, you have some choices to make. Do you report the crime to the police? Do you report the accident to your insurance? Salt Lake City car accident victim lawyer Darwin Overson of Overson Law, PLLC explains what you can do after being hit by a drunk driver in UT.
Reporting a Drunk Driving Accident to Police in Utah
If you were injured in any car accident – whether the driver was drunk or not – you have a legal obligation to report it. Utah law requires drivers to report any car accident that involves injury, death, or over $1,500 worth of property damage. This extends to all parties involved in the crash, meaning a passenger can report it if you are too injured to do so.
To report an accident, call the police. They can send police officers to help direct traffic around the crash, record information about the accident, get the other driver’s information for you, and take pictures of the scene. Calling 9-1-1 to report the accident is also important, because they can send ambulances.
If you, the other driver, or anyone else was injured, they may need medical attention. Do not hesitate to report an accident if you need medical help.
If you believe the other driver was drunk, it is in your best interests to tell someone. Police need to know about drunk drivers so they can keep them off the road. Always report if you were in a drunk driving accident, because police may be able to perform blood or breath tests and get evidence of the other driver’s intoxication right away. The driver may be charged with a crime, too, and having the evidence of intoxication and the record of a conviction is a huge help for your case. This information can help you prove they were unsafe and get the compensation you need for your injuries.
Reporting a Car Crash to Insurance
Some people may prefer to handle car accidents without bringing insurance into it. This usually only happens when people know they are at fault, are trying to avoid expensive insurance premiums, or do not actually have insurance. Many drunk driving accidents are actually caused by repeat drunk drivers. They may try to pressure you to handle their case outside of insurance if they do not want their premiums to go up or their insurance to be canceled.
As a victim, it is important to understand how Utah’s no-fault car insurance works. When you have car insurance in a no-fault state like Utah, you first file with your own insurance when you are in a car accident. They may provide you with some money, called personal injury protection (PIP) funds, to help pay you for your injuries. However, if you suffered very serious injuries or they were worth over $3,000, you may be able to go after the other driver’s insurance as well.
Generally, your insurance premiums do not change if you were the victim of an accident, so there is no risk to you for reporting the accident. However, the drunk driver’s insurance may have lapsed or may be unwilling to pay for repeat drunk driving accidents. If this is the case, talk to an attorney about whether your insurance has “uninsured motorist or underinsured motorist.” This “UM/IM” coverage helps injured drivers recover compensation when the other driver does not have sufficient insurance.
In many cases, insurance will not cover your full needs. Sometimes, you must file a lawsuit to get the compensation you need after a car accident.
Suing for a Drunk Driving Accident
While insurance can pay for severe accidents, like spinal cord injuries or traumatic brain injury, insurance may not pay full damages. In a court case, you may be able to recover any compensation that stems from the injury you suffered. This includes not only medical expenses and lost wages, but also pain and suffering damages.
Insurance companies may be willing to pay for medical costs and lost wages, but may not cover pain and suffering. This is often one of the highest damages associated with car accidents injuries.
In addition, you may be able to get extra damages because the other driver’s actions were so dangerous. Things like car accidents are usually issues of “negligence,” where the actor failed to use the proper care. Drunk driving accidents are even worse than lack of due care, and courts may award victims “punitive” damages to punish the drunk driver.
Utah DUI Victim Attorney
If you or a loved one was hurt in an accident with a drunk driver, talk to an attorney. If your loved one was killed in a car accidents with a drunk driver, or if you suffered severe injuries in a crash, you may be entitled to file a lawsuit to recover substantial compensation for your injuries. Salt Lake City personal injury lawyer Darwin Overson of Overson Law, PLLC offers free consultations on new cases. Call (801) 618-3590 today for your free consultation.