What To Do If You’ve Been Hit By a Drunk Driver in North Carolina

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A person's hands dialing on a phone with a blurred out collision between two vehicles in the background.All motor vehicle accidents are nerve-wracking. Colliding with another vehicle while driving is a nightmare that every driver hopes to avoid.

Unfortunately, some situations cannot be avoided when high speeds, a lack of escape routes, or unpredictable driving are involved. Priority is always placed on preventing collisions, but your actions afterward are also important to avoid further injuries and possible legal headaches.

If you see a drunk driver or suspect that the driver of another vehicle is drunk, you should report them to the police immediately. Your call could save lives, including the lives of the drunk driver and their passengers.

What Are the Consequences of Drunk Driving In North Carolina?

Drunk driving kills thousands of innocent people every year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and it is a completely preventable tragedy.

If the driver was indeed drunk, they will have to face the consequences for their actions. Those consequences can include the following:

  • Fines
  • Jail Time
  • Driver’s License Revocation
  • Increased Insurance Premiums
  • Cancelation of Insurance Plan
  • Loss of Employment
  • Loss of Professional License
  • Vehicle Impoundment
  • Criminal Record

Loss of Professional License and Employment

There are certain professions that require a higher level of responsibility and professionalism than others, according to Driving Laws. People in these professions are subject to losing their licenses if they are convicted of drunk driving, especially if it is a repeat offense.

Examples of these professions are as follows:

  • Medical Doctors
  • Nurses
  • Radiologic Technologists
  • Commercial Drivers
  • Air Traffic Controllers
  • Pilots
  • Government Employees With Security Clearances

Criminal Record

A conviction for driving while intoxicated will appear as a misdemeanor on background checks for employment. This conviction can make getting certain jobs difficult. Having a criminal record negatively affects the driver’s reputation, both professionally and personally.

Reporting a Drunk Driver

Needless to say, the offender will likely be upset that someone reported their drunk driving. People who choose to drink and drive often do not realize the severity of their crime if they did not actually cause an accident.

Reporting drunk driving is the responsible thing to do to prevent collisions that happen all too often.

The drunk driver will sometimes believe so strongly that a crash would not have occurred if they were not stopped that they might try to seek retribution against the person who reported them.

Possible Repercussions

Most reports of drunk drivers are made anonymously, so there are no repercussions to the reporter. There are situations where the driver may know who reported their drunk driving, such as the following:

  • You told the driver you reported them
  • You were a passenger in the vehicle with the drunk driver
  • You attempted to prevent the offender from driving and reported them as they entered their vehicle
  • There were witnesses to your report that informed the driver of your act

The consequences the drunk driver has to face are a result of their own actions, not your report of their actions. The offender does not always see the situation this way and may try to harm you in some way out of revenge.

Depending on your situation, you may need to get a restraining order. If you feel that you are in danger, discuss the matter with the police, and they will advise you on your best course of action.

Can a Drunk Driver Sue Me for Their Conviction?

A driver may try to sue you for slander if you reported them for drunk driving and they were not actually drunk or if they were not caught, but you reported them to someone other than the police.

For example, if you believed a professional driver was drunk and you saw them get in their truck and drive away. You proceeded to call the trucking company that one of their drivers was driving drunk.

That driver could face termination even if they were not drinking if they had no way to prove they were sober at the time of the event, especially if they had a previous history of substance abuse.

This is an example of why it is so important to report all drunk driving to the police. The police can administer field sobriety tests and get breathalyzer results to determine whether the driver is actually impaired.

Sometimes people just walk or talk in a slurred way, or they swerve in traffic because of fatigue or another distraction. While this driving is still unsafe, it is not the same as drunk driving, and the police will make sure the correct action is taken.

What Should I Do After a Drunk Driving Accident?

The first thing to do after you realize you have been in an accident is to check yourself for injuries. Try not to move, especially if you feel trapped or pinned down.

Gently try to palpate for any broken bones and look for bleeding. Ask your passengers to do the same for themselves and remind them to avoid moving because of the risk of spinal injury

Wait to be assessed by a healthcare professional before you try to move.

Call the Police for Help

If you have a working phone in your vehicle, use it to call the police immediately after the accident. You want them to arrive as quickly as possible.

Calling 911 will also have emergency medical personnel dispatched to help you and your passengers.

Paramedics will be able to assess your injuries and apply special braces to stabilize your spine. You may be in shock or have other internal injuries that are not immediately apparent.

The emergency medical technicians will transport you to the nearest medical center for further examination and treatment. A prompt medical exam will be necessary to prove your injuries are the result of your accident.

Be sure to get checked out right away, even if you feel fine, as some injuries do not present themselves until later.

Stay Vigilant and Wait for the Police

Watch for any suspicious activity before the authorities arrive and report it to them immediately. If you are well enough to remain at the scene, talk to the police about what happened. Examples of things to watch for are:

  • Other drivers switch seats with passengers
  • Items being thrown from other vehicles
  • Anyone fleeing the scene
  • Drivers trying to mask their breath with gum or other items

Some people do these things to hide the fact they are drunk. They may also try to avoid responsibility for the accident.

Police need to know these details to add to their report. Refrain from approaching other drivers about what you see.

The police are trained to handle these situations.

Also, report all damage and any other facts for the official record of the accident. The police report is the legal documentation of the drunk driving accident and needs to be as detailed and correct as possible.

Obtain Information From Other Drivers

Drunk driving accidents are more complex than regular car accidents, but you may have difficulty getting information from the drunk driver. You will need the driver’s name, driver’s license number, contact information, and insurance.

Do not engage with them if you feel unsafe doing so because drunk people are often unpredictable in their actions. At the minimum, get the license plate number, the make and model of the vehicle, and a description of the driver.

This information is vital in case the driver decides to drive away before the police arrive. Do not sign anything or give any details aside from your name and insurance information without your personal injury lawyer present.

Document The Scene For Yourself

Write down all the details of the crash and take pictures of everything that you may need to remember later on. The stress of the accident, combined with possible shock and injuries, make it easy to forget important facts that can help your case.

Keeping these records for yourself also ensures that nothing gets lost or convoluted by the insurance companies or other parties involved.

Make a List of Witnesses

Many people are willing to help report what they saw happen in an accident, but it can be challenging to find these people again if you need them to speak in court.

Write down the witness’s name, contact information, and a description of what they saw happen in your drunk driving accident. Your personal injury lawyer will be able to use this list to contact the witnesses and strengthen your case.

Keep a Journal

Write down all your medical appointments, tests, diagnosis, and treatments. Include how much pain you are feeling and how you feel emotionally as well.

Be honest, and don’t hold back. Add details about missing work due to your injuries and medical care.

Also, make a note of family members providing transportation and home care. This information can help build your case for pain and suffering damages.

Incorporate images of all injuries because they can heal and fade before going to court or reaching a settlement, making them difficult to prove.

Hire a Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer

Tatum & Atkinson has a dedicated team of experienced drunk driving accident lawyers ready to handle the complexities of your case. Call us at (800) LAW-0804 for a free consultation, and we will discuss the details of your accident.

We can help answer your questions about the legal process and whether or not you have a case. Our attorneys can start the legal process of a lawsuit, if necessary, or navigate the terms of a settlement if that is your best option.

Let Us Help You Navigate The Legal Process After a Drunk Driving Accident

If you have been in an accident with a drunk driver, call Tatum & Atkinson, the Heavy Hitters, at (800) LAW-0804 for a free consultation about your case. We are an experienced team of lawyers and will get you the compensation you deserve.