Every year, West Virginia sees millions of dollars in costs related to drunk driving wrecks. Not only do these wrecks cost money, but they also affect the lives of the victims. Those whom a drunk driver hits often suffer catastrophic injuries or death.
If you suffered injuries or lost a loved one at the hands of a drunk driver, contact Wagoner Desai for a free consultation and to learn more about your rights after a drunk driving accident. Let our West Virginia Drunk Driving Accident Lawyers help you obtain the compensation you need to pay for your treatments and put you back on the path to recovery.
Protect Your Rights After a Drunk Driving Accident
You can protect your rights after a drunk driving accident by taking the following steps.
Call the Police
Don’t wait for someone else to call the police. The drunk driver might not call. If you believe the drunk driver might leave the scene, if possible, write down their license plate number and the make, model, and color of the vehicle. After the officer makes their accident report, we can help you get a copy of it.
Seek Medical Attention
Even if your injuries seem minor, seek medical attention as soon as possible after the accident. You could have serious injuries that are hidden, such as internal bleeding, which might not show symptoms until hours or days later. Also, the sooner you seek medical attention, the easier it is to prove your injuries happened because of the accident.
Ask for Contact Information
Ask anyone involved in the accident for their license, registration, insurance and contact information. Ask witnesses what they saw and procure their contact information. A good phone number, mailing address, and, if possible, an email address, all help your attorney locate witnesses who could provide valuable information for your case.
The only information you should give any insurance company, including your own, is your name, the date, time, and location of the accident, and your attorney’s contact information. Because insurance companies are in business to make money, they will twist anything you say to deny your claim or at least find justification to offer a low settlement.
Stay off Social Media
Do not post about your accident on any social media accounts. First, insurance companies will look for this information and use anything they find to attempt to deny your claim. Even if your accounts are locked down, do not count on the insurance company not seeing the information.
Additionally, if you decide to litigate the accident instead of settle, the defendant can use anything you post on social media against you in court.
Drunk Driving Consequences
A drunk driver who injures or kills another person in a car accident may face criminal charges. This is a separate process from a civil lawsuit, which the injured person or their family can file against the drunk driver to seek compensation for their injuries.
West Virginia statutes provide the following criminal consequences for drunk driving:
- If a drunk driver causes someone else’s death, the drunk driver could face between three and 15 years in prison. The state would charge the drunk driver with a felony. The fine upon conviction is at least $1,000 but not more than $3,000. Plus, the Commissioner of the Division of Motor Vehicles can revoke the drunk driver’s license for up to 10 years.
- In the event of severe bodily injury to another person, the state can charge a drunk driver with a felony, and if convicted, the drunk driver could spend up to 10 years in prison. The first two years are mandatory. Additionally, the drunk driver may face fines from $1,000 to $3,000 and driver’s license revocation for up to five years.
- In the event of bodily injury caused by a drunk driving accident, the charge is a misdemeanor, and the drunk driver faces up to a year in jail, with a mandatory sentence of one day. Fines are $200 to $1,000. Additionally, the Commissioner of the Division of Motor Vehicles may revoke the drunk driver’s license for up to two years.
Additionally, officials can require drunk drivers to participate in test and lock programs to prevent them from driving while intoxicated during a probationary period.
In one recent year, West Virginia saw 7,285 alcohol-related wrecks, which caused 248 fatalities and 4,430 injuries. While some of these drunk driving victims suffer minor injuries, such as cuts, scrapes, bruises, and scratches, others suffer injuries that take weeks to heal, such as torn or pulled muscles, fractures, sprain, and strains. Still others suffer from catastrophic injuries such as amputations, traumatic brain injuries, neck injuries, shoulder injuries, back injuries, and spinal cord injuries. In some cases, the injured person fully recovers, but in others, these injuries cause long-term or permanent disabilities.
A brain injury or a spinal cord injury can cause permanent paralysis. Even a minor concussion, which is a traumatic brain injury, can have serious life-long consequences. Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) manifests later in life, and concussions or microtraumas may cause it. Doctors cannot conclusively diagnose CTE until after death. However, certain serious symptoms accompany the disease, including depression and anxiety, memory and thinking problems, and mood and personality changes. During an autopsy, doctors look for specific changes in the brain to diagnose CTE.
After a drunk driving accident, you may be eligible to collect economic and non-economic damages, including:
- Past and future medical expenses.
- Past and future lost wages, or partial future lost wages.
- Replacement or repair of destroyed or damaged personal property.
- Physical, psychological, and cognitive therapy expenses.
- Funeral, burial, and cremation expenses.
- Pain and suffering, including emotional distress.
- Loss of consortium, companionship, and loss of enjoyment of life.
- Loss of use of a bodily function or body part.
Contact Wagoner Desai’s West Virginia Drunk Driving Accident Attorneys for Help
If you suffered injuries or lost a loved one in a drunk driving accident, contact Wagoner Desai’s personal injury attorneys for a free consultation. We take cases 24/7, and want to use our skills and experience to help you as much as we can. For your free case evaluation, you can get ahold of us right now at (304) 470-2056 or through our online contact form.
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