Steps to Take After a Drunk Driving Accident in Albuquerque
According to news reports, 106 people lost their lives in drunk driving accidents in New Mexico in one recent year. Many more suffered severe bodily harm. If you get hit by a drunk driver, taking the right steps in the aftermath of a drunk driving accident can help you improve your chances of recovering the compensation they owe you.
Here are the steps you can take to strengthen your personal injury claim:
Stop Your Vehicle
The first step is to move your vehicle safely out of the way of oncoming traffic. New Mexico law requires motorists to stop at the accident scene, no matter how minor. Failing to do so may result in criminal consequences. Furthermore, driving off could jeopardize your chance to obtain the maximum compensation you otherwise deserve.
Contact the Police
Alerting the police to the accident is essential because the responding police officer will file an official crash report and potentially test the other driver for intoxication. When police arrive, explain the facts of the accident without admitting fault. If you have reason to believe the other driver was drunk, explain why you think this is a drunk driving accident case. If the police have probable cause to treat the accident as a criminal investigation, they can begin collecting evidence that could also strengthen your personal injury claim against the at-fault motorist.
Seek Medical Attention
Even if you believe your injuries are minor, you should still seek medical care immediately. A doctor can diagnose any hidden injuries you might be unaware of so you can begin treatment right away. Furthermore, seeing a medical professional immediately after a crash helps establish a causal connection between the accident and any injuries you suffered.
After receiving treatment, be sure to follow your doctor’s advice carefully. Maintain all medical records as proof of your injuries and expenses.
Get the Other Driver’s Information
If possible, get the other driver’s information. Do not approach them if they’re belligerent, anxious, or passed out. Let the police take care of this instead.
Key pieces of information you should request from the other driver after an auto accident in New Mexico include:
- Their full name
- Driver’s license number
- Insurance information, including policy number
- Contact information (phone number, email address, and street address)
- Vehicle make, model, year, and license plate number
- Names and contact information for any passengers in their vehicle
It’s also a good idea to take down notes about the accident’s date, time, and exact location.
You only have a limited amount of time to gather evidence before the accident scene is cleaned up. Collecting evidence can help you establish liability and obtain fair compensation.
One way to gather this essential evidence is to take detailed photographs. Detailed photographs can assist your attorney in their investigation of the accident. They can also help an accident reconstructionist determine how the crash occurred and who was at fault. When taking photos, be sure to include:
- Damage to vehicles
- Views of the crash scene from multiple angles
- Environmental conditions such as the weather
- The layout of the street and intersection
- Any street signs or traffic signals
- Road hazards
- Skid marks
- Tire treads on the roadway
Furthermore, you might find it helpful to take photos of your injuries and other property damage.
Ask Witnesses for Their Information
If eyewitnesses saw the accident, their statements may be crucial to your case. Request their names and contact information so your lawyer can speak with them as soon as possible while their memories are fresh.
Cooperate in the Criminal Case
If the police suspect an intoxicated driver caused the accident, a criminal case will likely follow. This case is crucial for two reasons. First, it provides an additional means of holding the impaired driver accountable for their wrongdoing. Second, a criminal conviction can strengthen your personal injury case and may even allow you to recover more money.
As such, cooperating with the criminal investigation is vital. If police or investigators request your assistance, do everything you can to help them. Your attorney can help you provide the necessary information in a way that will not inadvertently harm your insurance claim.
Keep Good Records
A successful claim against the at-fault driver requires meticulous evidence. With the help of an attorney, you can gather and compile valuable evidence like:
- A copy of the police report from the accident – This will have critical details about what police officers observed and suspect to be the cause of the accident.
- Repair estimates and invoices if you pay to get your vehicle fixed – These show the extent of damage and repair costs. Save all receipts.
- Medical records related to any injuries suffered in the crash – This includes medical bills, diagnosis reports, prescription receipts, doctor visit summaries, and physical therapy invoices.
- Detailed notes about how the accident happened from your perspective – Write these down as soon as possible while your memory is fresh.
- Information about the other driver – This should include their name, address, phone number, insurance information, driver’s license number, license plate number, etc.
- Communication with the insurance companies involved – Keep a record of any calls, emails, or letters.
- Receipts for other accident-related expenses – Include invoices for car rentals, medication co-pays, lost wages, transportation for medical appointments, and receipts for other costs you incur because of your injuries.
Saving and organizing your records will help demonstrate and justify the monetary damages for which you are seeking compensation.
Contact a New Mexico Car Accident Lawyer
Many people feel overwhelmed with questions and concerns after suffering catastrophic injuries in a drunk driving accident. They may not be aware of their legal options or the right to seek compensation through a dram shop claim against a business that sold alcohol to the drunk driver. Consulting with an experienced New Mexico drunk driving accident attorney is the single most effective way to move forward with your life.
A skilled attorney can investigate the accident to determine all at-fault parties, calculate the full value of your losses, guide you through the legal process, and negotiate with the other driver’s insurance company for a fair settlement package. If necessary, they can file a personal injury lawsuit against the responsible parties.
The experienced car accident attorneys at Parnall Law have been successfully representing New Mexico drunk driving accident victims since 1997. We are committed to the community we serve, and we always provide our clients with the individualized attention they deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation with an Albuquerque drunk driving accident lawyer. Let us demand justice on your behalf.