Whether you’re in Chicago or Los Angeles, you can be sure that people will be celebrating on this Fourth of July. Independence Day is a national holiday when we celebrate the birth of our nation, often with parades, music, food, fireworks, and drinks.
Like virtually every other holiday in the United States, many July 4 celebrations involve the consumption of beer, wine, and other alcoholic beverages, often resulting in more drunk drivers on the road than at other times. This continues to be the case, year after year, despite state and federal safety initiatives, increased DUI enforcement, and community education programs. At holiday time, this puts everyone on the road at risk.
Steps You Can Take to Reduce Your Risk of Being Hit by a Drunk Driver
Fortunately, you can reduce your risk of being involved in an accident caused by a drunk or drugged driver by taking steps including the following:
- Stay off of the Roads – While this may not be an option for some people, the most effective way to reduce your risk of an accident with a drunk driver is to stay at home and drive as little as possible.
- Keep Your Wits About You – Awareness of your surroundings is key to avoiding accidents. Make sure that you’re alert and ready to respond to a dangerous situation. Refrain from drinking and driving yourself and minimize driver distractions.
- Be Conscious about Where You Drive – While drunk drivers may be anywhere at any time, it doesn’t require an analysis of crash or accident data to determine which parts of town may have more drunk drivers around than others. If you’re out and about on the holiday weekend, try to avoid areas where there’s a high concentration of bars and restaurants or other places where people will likely be celebrating.
- Avoid Erratic Drivers – Drunk drivers tend to behave erratically. If you see a driver that is weaving in the lane, unable to maintain a steady speed or showing other signs of possible impairment, give them plenty of space. In addition, call the police and report them to ensure others won’t be put at risk.
What to Do if You’re Hurt by a Drunk Driver
Dave Abels, a law partner at the Chicago personal injury law firm of Abels & Annes, P.C., notes that many innocent people will, unfortunately, be injured by drunk drivers this Fourth of July. Mr. Abels points out that accident victims are generally entitled to compensation for the losses they incur, so long as they take certain steps to protect their legal rights. The most important of these include the following:
- Make Sure Police Respond to the Scene – If you can establish that the other driver was drunk, it can make it much easier to recover compensation. As a result, you should always call the police when you suspect that the other driver is under the influence, even if the accident would ordinarily not require police involvement. If the police share your suspicions about the driver’s sobriety, they will likely perform a series of tests to determine whether or not the driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Seek Medical Attention – If you are seriously injured, an ambulance will likely come to the scene. If the emergency medical technician that evaluates you recommends that you go to the hospital, accept his or her recommendation and go. In addition, make sure to undergo a thorough medical evaluation, even if you do not need emergency medical treatment. Doing so can affect whether and how much you ultimately recover.
- Keep Detailed Notes on How Your Accident Has Affected You – One of the most important things to do as a drunk-driving accident victim is to document the specific ways your injury affects you on a daily basis. Make note of any pain you experience, problems sleeping, feelings of anxiety or depression, and when you have to miss out on activities that you would otherwise have participated in.
- Contact an Attorney as Soon as You Can – It is critical for victims to speak to a lawyer as soon as possible after they have been injured in an accident. While it may seem like the police are handling the matter for you, it’s important to realize that the criminal case the state brings against a drunk driver has little to do with whether you will be compensated for all of your losses. An attorney will fully investigate your case and make sure that any settlement offer you accept is adequate. In addition, your lawyer may file a lawsuit on your behalf if the insurance company is unwilling or unable to make an acceptable offer.
By following the steps outlined above, you can maximize your chances of recovering compensation after an accident caused by an impaired driver. For specific information about your case, speak to an attorney who practices in personal injury law in your state.