Car accidents can be distressing, but when they involve a DUI (Driving Under the Influence) driver, things become more complicated. St. Louis, Missouri, like other places, imposes serious legal and personal repercussions for DUI accidents.
According to Responsibility.org, 235 people died as a result of drunk driving in a single year in Missouri. DUI deaths account for 26.7% of all traffic-related fatalities. Alcohol-impaired driving accounts for over 20% of all road deaths among those under the age of 21.
To safeguard your rights and seek rightful compensation, understanding how to deal with such a situation is crucial. In this article, we will discuss the steps to take after a St. Louis car accident involving a DUI driver.
Ensure Safety First
Following a vehicle accident, your safety should be your main priority. If possible, relocate to a safe area and check on the well-being of all people involved. Call 911 right away and report the crash to authorities.
According to Forbes, Missouri law requires you to report any accidents that result in property damage exceeding $500. In cases involving injuries or fatalities, you must alert the police. Additionally, exchange crucial information with the other driver, including names, insurance particulars, contact details, and license plate numbers.
To strengthen your case, collect as much evidence as possible. This is especially important in St. Louis since Missouri follows a “pure comparative negligence” rule.
According to Investopedia, the pure comparative negligence rule enables a plaintiff to receive damages even though they hold 99% of the fault. In this case, the plaintiff is still entitled to 1% of the total damages imposed on the opposite party.
Document the scene with photographs, exchange contact information with the DUI driver and witnesses, and note the responding officer’s information.
Additionally, be sure to obtain a copy of the police report, as it can serve as a valuable piece of evidence. Take note of any statements made by the DUI driver that indicate their impairment, as this can be essential for your case.
Seek Medical Attention
Even if you feel fine right afterwards, it is extremely important that you get medical assistance. In order to be eligible for compensation in Missouri, you must seek medical care within 30 days of the injury. Delaying treatment may be detrimental to both your health and your case.
Complete records of all medical costs, including invoices, medications, and treatment plans, should be kept. These details will be required if you choose to seek compensation for your injuries and medical expenses.
Report to Insurance Companies
Contact your insurance company promptly, but be cautious with your statements. Before providing a recorded statement to the other driver’s insurer, you should contact an attorney. Anything you tell the insurance might be used against you in order to reduce the settlement.
Prepare to present the required paperwork to back up your claim. Photographs, police reports, and medical documents are all included.
Missouri has a “fault” system, which means that the at-fault driver’s insurance usually covers the damages. However, you may need to engage in negotiations, and having an attorney can be invaluable in this process.
Consult with an Attorney
Given the complexity of DUI accident cases, it’s advisable to consult with an experienced St. Louis car accident lawyer. These legal experts understand the specific laws and regulations in Missouri. They can help you navigate the legal process and protect your rights.
According to TorHoerman Law, your attorney will assess the circumstances surrounding the accident, help determine liability, and help with negotiations. They can also give you legal advice so you can pursue compensation in a well-informed manner.
Pursue Legal Action
You might need to file a lawsuit against the DUI driver if you can’t come to a deal with the insurance provider. In Missouri, there is a five-year statute of limitations on personal injury lawsuits, so consult with a lawyer to ensure you don’t miss any deadlines.
Filing a lawsuit can be a complex process in St. Louis, but your attorney will handle the legal intricacies on your behalf. They will help draft a complaint detailing the incident, the damages you’ve suffered, and the compensation you’re seeking. The DUI driver will be served with the lawsuit, and the legal process will begin.
Understand DUI Penalties
In St. Louis, DUI offenders may face significant penalties. Understanding the legal consequences for the DUI driver can be essential when pursuing compensation in your case.
DUI fines in Missouri vary depending on criteria such as past convictions and level of intoxication. Fines ranging from hundreds to thousands of dollars, obligatory alcohol education programs, probation, and even jail are all possible penalties. The sanctions can be substantially harsher in circumstances where the DUI driver’s conduct resulted in serious injuries or fatalities.
Navigating a car accident involving a DUI driver in St. Louis, Missouri, requires a strategic and cautious approach. Safety should always come first, then the gathering of vital evidence to back up your case.
The two most important actions are getting medical help and informing the authorities. Consulting with an experienced attorney is crucial, as they can guide you through negotiations and potential legal actions.
Understanding the DUI penalties faced by the impaired driver is also crucial. Ultimately, being well-prepared and informed is key to safeguarding your rights and seeking rightful compensation in such challenging circumstances.