What Happens When You Get Hit by a Drunk Driver in Colorado?
Getting hit by a drunk driver or losing a loved one in a DUI accident can be overwhelming. You may feel isolated and not know where to turn. Bills are piling up. You’re angry and in pain. You want justice, especially if you lost a loved one due to the negligent act of another. You’re wondering, What happens when you get hit by a drunk driver in Colorado?
You can file a personal injury claim against the drunk driver who caused the accident with the help of a personal injury attorney. At Sloat, Nicholson & Hoover, P.C., we know we can never erase your injuries or bring back your loved ones. But we can hold negligent parties accountable for their actions and get you the compensation you need to move forward with your life.
What to Do When You Get Hit by a Drunk Driver
After a crash, you might find yourself thinking, I was hit by a drunk driver, and I don’t know what to do. Let’s look at some steps you can take in the aftermath of the crash that might help you later.
After an accident, the first thing you should do is to get out of the car and move safely away from traffic. Then call 911.
Even if you feel fine, have the paramedics or your doctor check you out as soon as possible. Some injuries, like a concussion or bleeding, may be internal and not immediately noticeable.
Use your phone to take photos of the scene, injuries, and property damage. Also, take photos of any skid marks, broken signs, and damaged shrubbery. Note if there are any nearby security cameras. If so, you or your lawyer will want to speak to the businesses that have surveillance soon after the crash to preserve the video evidence.
Talk to Witnesses
Get contact information for any witnesses. Their statements will be important in recreating how the accident happened.
Contact a Lawyer
Knowing you have rights is essential after being hit by a drunk driver. Make plans to speak with a personal injury attorney who can examine the facts of your case to determine if the drunk driver who hit you can be held accountable.
How to File a Lawsuit
Like all states, Colorado allows injured victims to sue drunk drivers for damages caused by roadway accidents. A drunk driver does not have to be convicted of a DUI before you initiate a personal injury claim. Your lawyer will file the claim and negotiate with insurers. Most cases are settled during the negotiation stage, so you never have to file a lawsuit with the court or go to trial. Having a seasoned attorney by your side will help advance negotiations and save you the stress of a trial.
What Claims Can I Bring Against Drunk Drivers?
Personal injury lawsuits against drunk drivers can include the following claims:
- Negligence per se,
- Wrongful death, or
- Survival action.
The type of claim depends on the facts of the case.
Negligence refers to the failure to act with reasonable care. To prove the drunk driver acted negligently, you must prove the following elements:
- Duty of care. The defendant must owe you a duty of care. All drivers have a duty to others on the road to drive safely and obey all traffic laws, including not driving under the influence of alcohol.
- Breach of duty. The defendant must have breached this duty of care. Breaking traffic laws in any way, including drunk driving, is a breach of the duty of care to others on the road.
- Causation. The breach of duty (i.e., drunk driving) must have directly caused your injuries and other damages.
- Damages. You must have sustained injuries and losses from the accident.
If you are successful in proving these elements, you can receive compensation for your damages.
Negligence Per Se
Negligence per se is a branch of negligence. With negligence per se, a person is presumed to be negligent if they violate a statute or law and thereby cause the accident. To prove negligence per se, you must prove the following elements:
- Violation. The defendant must have violated a law. Driving drunk is a clear criminal violation.
- Intended Recipient. If you are the plaintiff, you must be the type of party the law was enacted to protect. DUI laws are put in place to protect all drivers, passengers, cyclists, and pedestrians on the road.
- Intended Injury. The injuries you sustained must be the type of injuries the law was enacted to protect. DUI laws are meant to protect victims from any injuries and financial consequences of the DUI accident.
- Causation. The violation must have caused your injury.
In most instances, if a person is found to be intoxicated, they are deemed negligent per se.
Wrongful Death Claim
You can file a wrongful death claim if your loved one died due to a drunk driver’s negligence. Families may be able to recover for medical bills, funeral and burial expenses, loss of the decedent’s income, pain and suffering, and loss of companionship. A personal injury attorney can determine if you can file a wrongful death claim and how to build the case.
Survival Action Claim
A survival action claim allows family members to recover compensation for the injuries a deceased person suffered before their death. This is different from a wrongful death claim in that a wrongful death claim attempts to recover damages the family of the decedent suffers. A survival action attempts to recover damages for the harm the decedent suffered before they died.
Contact Sloat, Nicholson & Hoover, P.C.
If a drunk driver injured you or killed a loved one in an accident, contact Sloat, Nicholson & Hoover, P.C. for assistance. Our experienced attorneys and resourceful support staff have decades of legal experience in the Boulder, Longmont, and Lafayette areas. Our attorneys also give back to their communities. We are active in various charities, including sponsoring the Boulder Community Hospital, the Grief Support Network, and the I Have a Dream Foundation. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us because we can help. Contact one of our seasoned personal attorneys now for a free consultation.
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