Seek immediate medical care for any injuries you suffer.
When you feel new symptoms that you might not have realized immediately after the collision, return to a medical provider to be sure your symptoms are noted and treated.
Remain at the scene of the accident, and get any information you can from those also involved. Provide them with your information as well. Get the names and contact information from all witnesses and photograph all damages to all vehicles.
If you determine another driver was intoxicated, contact local law enforcement immediately. Once safety is ensured, you should remain at the scene. If anyone tries to leave the scene, get as much information as you can, such as the make and model of the vehicle, a physical description of the driver and car, and the entire license plate number.
Even if the damage to your vehicle was minor, notify the police that there is an intoxicated driver on the streets of Santa Barbara.
Gross Negligence and Punitive Damages
Drunk driving is considered “gross negligence” in a court of law. Gross negligence in California is defined as “the want of even scant care or an extreme departure from the ordinary standard of conduct.” It’s a serious neglect of a person’s legal duty to another person.
If a victim can establish that he/she was injured by a drunk driver, the victim is entitled to “punitive” damages from the culprit, which are meant to punish the gross negligence. Punitive damages are not covered by insurance and must be paid directly by the drunk driver.
Drunk Driving Is a Crime
Since driving while intoxicated is also a criminal offense, as soon as you realize another driver is drunk, contact the local police so they can send an officer to the scene. This not only protects you, (since it ensures the other driver gave you proper information) it also protects other people who might be injured if the impaired person continues to drive. Wait for police to arrive and give them all information they ask for. While you should provide an accurate description of what happened, you should never say the accident was your fault.
Before you give a statement or sign anything from any insurance company, including your own, you should contact an experienced automobile accident and personal injury lawyer. Have your attorney look at any papers presented to you and listen to his or her advice before signing anything. You can easily give up your rights to additional compensation or civil action by signing something right away. At NordstrandBlack PC, we have decades of experience dealing with car accidents and insurance companies. Call us today at (805) 962-2022 to discuss the details of your case and learn about your options.