Imagine you have been in a serious motor vehicle accident caused by a drunk driver where you sustained severe injuries. Emergency responders come to the scene to investigate the crash and provide help for the injured. You are quickly taken to an area hospital and treated by knowledgeable medical professionals. Once you are over the initial shock and have started on the long road to recovery, the anxiety begins as you realize you are missing work, piling up medical bills and are without a vehicle until yours is repaired (or replaced).
You are left with one nagging question: What happens next?
Typically, when a car accident involves minor injuries or no injuries at all, the next steps are to document the scene and figure out the chain of events that led up to the accident. Often, this involves calling the police, speaking with the other driver, getting statements from witnesses and taking pictures (something much easier now that nearly everyone has a cell phone with an integrated camera) of both the scene and the damaged vehicles.
In no-fault insurance states – like Colorado used to be – a determination of “fault” after a collision wasn’t necessary from an insurance standpoint, since both vehicle operators would have filed independent claims with their own policies to cover medical expenses and property damage. Now, though, Colorado has returned to what is known as a “tort-based” system, and determining fault is an important element of bringing a successful personal injury and property damage claim.
When one driver is intoxicated, though, fault is much easier to determine. The focus then shifts from finding who is at fault to documenting the damage done by the accident to both injured parties and property.
From that perspective, many of the same steps taken by anyone after an accident like taking photos or gathering witness statements (something that might not be possible when serious injuries have resulted from the accident, but can be requested from police on the scene) are important to whatever extent possible, but one of the first should be to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney. An attorney’s assistance can be helpful in any car accident case, but is especially beneficial when one party was intoxicated at the time of the crash.
Motor vehicle accidents involving drunk drivers often coincide with criminal charges arising from the same incident, and there are unique legal considerations that need to be taken into account. Attorneys who regularly handle cases like these understand the dual court processes, can navigate the insurance system, and have access to industry experts, and they use this knowledge to skillfully build a persuasive case that proves in detail how your injuries have affected your life.
The Sawaya Law Firm is Denver’s personal injury law firm. With over 40 years of experience and a compassionate team prepared to listen to your story, The Sawaya Law Firm is here to help. Contact us anytime.