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What to Do If You Are Hit by a Drunk Driver

Mark A. Simon, Attorney at Law July 22, 2022

Drunk driving is among the major causes of traffic accidents in Colorado and across the country. According to the statistics from the Colorado Department of Transportation, there were 5,032 total crashes involving drunk drivers in 2019, causing 2,780 injuries. An accident involving a drunk driver may cause minor or serious injuries, hospitalization, missed time at work, or sometimes death.

Fortunately, victims of drunk driving-related accidents in Colorado may be entitled to hold the at-fault drunk driver liable and seek fair financial compensation through an injury claim. If you or someone you know were hurt in a traffic accident involving a drunk driver, retaining a skilled Colorado personal injury attorney is crucial to protect your legal rights.

At Mark A. Simon, Attorney at Law, we are ready and poised to guide, support, and represent victims of drunk driving accidents in their personal injury claims. As your legal counsel, we can review the facts of your case, enlighten you about what to do, and determine the best way to proceed with your injury claims.

Our firm proudly represents clients throughout Denver, Centennial, Aurora, Englewood, Commerce City, Lakewood, Arvada, Thornton, and Wheat Ridge, Colorado.

Steps to Take If You are Hit by a Drunk Driver

The period after a drunk driving accident can be confusing to sort through. Regardless, what you do — or do not do — could possibly affect the outcome of your injury claims. Hence, when you're involved in an accident caused by a drunk driver, you should take the following steps where possible:

  • Remain calm and get to safety. Help other victims if you can.

  • Call 911 to get immediate medical treatment for your injuries, notwithstanding the severity of the accident or injury.

  • Report the incident to the nearest police department and give a detailed statement.

  • Gather physical evidence and take mental notes if you suspect intoxication.

  • Quickly take pictures or note the vehicle's description, including color, model, and license plate.

  • Gather and document the police report, witness testimonies and statements, and accident scene pictures.

  • Document all of your medical treatments, medical bills, therapy sessions, and doctor's appointments.

  • Document your personal account of the incident, as well as the impact on your work and daily activities.

  • Inform your insurer about your involvement in a drunk driving accident.

  • Hire an experienced lawyer to help file your personal injury claims, negotiate a fair financial settlement with the insurance provider, or take additional legal action.

A skilled Colorado drunk driving victims attorney can educate you about the state's laws addressing liability in DUI accidents and walk you through the injury claims process.

Liability in Drunk Driving Accidents

Colorado is a fault auto insurance state. This means that the at-fault party (the driver who caused the accident) will be held liable for injuries, property damages, and other accident-related losses suffered by the accident victims.

Additionally, under Colorado's negligence per se statute, a driver who causes an accident while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is automatically considered negligent. To prove negligence per se in a personal injury action, the claimant must show that:

  • The defendant violated a safety law, regulation, or ordinance, such as driving under the influence.

  • The law violated by the defendant was intended to prevent an injury similar to what the plaintiff suffered.

  • The plaintiff is part of the people the law was intended to protect.

  • The defendant's violation of the safety law caused the plaintiff's injuries.

In most cases, the drunk driver who caused the traffic crash will be held accountable for the victim's injuries. However, under certain conditions, a bar owner may be held civilly liable for selling or serving alcohol to a driver in Colorado. 

Colorado's Dram Shop Law

Under Colorado's Dram Shop Law – Colorado Revised Statutes Section 12-47-80 – a licensed alcohol vendor may be held liable for the injuries or property damages caused by an intoxicated person if:

  • They willfully and knowingly sold or served any alcoholic beverage to such a person who was under 21 years of age.

  • They willfully and knowingly sold or served any alcoholic beverage to such a person who was visibly intoxicated.

Moreover, driving while under the influence of alcohol is a criminal offense. This should make it easier for the plaintiff to establish negligence.

Punitive Damages for Drunk Driving Accident Injuries or Wrongful Death

Furthermore, exemplary damages or punitive damages may be available in a Colorado personal injury claim when alcohol is a factor that caused the traffic crash. The judge may award punitive damages to further punish the at-fault drunk driver for their willful, wanton, or reckless action.

Filing a Wrongful Death Claim

However, if the drunk driving accident resulted in a loss of life, the following individuals may be eligible to bring a wrongful death claim. 

Within the first year of the person's death:

  • The decedent's spouse (has exclusive rights).

  • The decedent's heirs with the spouse's written consent.

  • If there is no spouse, the decedent's heirs, or designated beneficiaries.

Within the second year of the person's death:

  • The decedent's spouse of the deceased

  • The decedent's heirs or children

  • The designated beneficiary.

An experienced wrongful death attorney can fight vigorously to protect your legal rights and help you recover the fair financial compensation you may be entitled to.

Obtain Legal Guidance Today

Being involved in an auto accident caused by a drunk driver can be devastating and can affect your physical, mental, and financial well-being. However, you don't have to suffer the pain and financial liability all alone. Therefore, when you're injured in a drunk driving accident, it is imperative that you act quickly and retain a skilled personal injury attorney to advocate for your best interests and help pursue fair financial compensation.

For over 30 years, our firm has been offering reliable representation and compassionate legal guidance to drunk driving accident victims and their loved ones. Contact Mark A. Simon, Attorney at Law, today to schedule a simple case evaluation with a caring car accident lawyer. Our trusted attorney has the personalized legal counsel, support, and vigorous representation you need in your personal injury claims. We're proud to serve clients across Denver, Centennial, Aurora, Englewood, Commerce City, Lakewood, Arvada, Thornton, and Wheat Ridge, Colorado.