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Hit by a Drunk Driver in California: What to Do? 2024

Being hit by a drunk driver in California could be one of the most traumatic experiences one can endure. Because the repercussions of driving a vehicle under the influence are so severe, California has a number of laws in place to hold violators of this offense accountable for their actions and to deter it from happening again in the future. If you were hit by a drunk driver in California, a California personal injury attorney can safeguard your rights.

Step 1: Ensure Safety and Health First

Immediately after the car accident, take some time to assess your safety and the safety of others. Also, check for any injuries that might need immediate medical attention. If you can, move to a safer location away from traffic or where another vehicle could reach you. Turn on your blinking hazard lights to alert everyone else on the road of the hazard. If the vehicle is in a dangerous position, try to move it if it will not risk additional harm to yourself or others.

Even if you feel fine, it is still recommended to be checked by a medical professional to ensure no injuries exist. This is because some injuries, especially internal ones, might not be immediately apparent but can lead to dangerous effects if left untreated. Seeing a doctor will also create an official medical record, which can be used as evidence for insurance purposes.

Step 2: Report the Incident

No matter how minor the incident may be, you should always contact a law enforcement officer to arrive on the scene and document the incident. Their report can serve as a key piece of evidence to leverage a larger settlement with an insurance company or to prove fault in court. During interactions with the police, you’ll want to avoid admitting fault or making any statements that could be used against you later in court.

While you are waiting for police to arrive on the scene, document photos of the accident, damage to the vehicles, and any injuries you are able to immediately recognize on your body. You’ll also want to collect the contact information of any eyewitnesses who could recall the chain of events that led to the accident.

Step 3: Hire an Attorney

It’s recommended to hire a personal injury attorney who already has experience dealing with drunk driving cases. These professionals can guide you through the process of filing your claim or lawsuit to ensure you meet all requirements and deadlines. Hiring an attorney can also help to maximize your final compensation award and ensure damages like property damage and lost wages are reimbursed.

Step 4: Alert Insurance Companies

Report the accident to your insurance company as soon as you can. You should be honest about everything you observed and provide all the evidence you were able to collect. Because insurance agents might try to settle quickly for a smaller amount than you’re comfortable with, be sure an attorney is present at all interactions to ensure your rights are never violated in the process.

Step 5: Emotional and Mental Health Support

While physical injuries are apparent and often addressed immediately in the aftermath of a car accident, the emotional and mental impact can sometimes be neglected. It’s normal to feel a range of emotions, like shock and disbelief, that can lead to significant spells of anxiety and depression.

Consider seeking support from a counselor, therapist, or support group that is focused on those impacted by drunk driving accidents. Talking about your experiences with others can help alleviate certain stressors and significantly boost the emotional recovery process.


Q: What Is the Average Settlement for a Drunk Driving Accident in California?

A: Factors that influence final drunk driving accident settlements can include the severity of the injury, the total amount of property damage, lost wages, and the severity of the negligence exhibited by the responsible party. For example, if someone became permanently paralyzed from an accident and was no longer able to hold a steady job, the final settlement may be significantly higher than others to compensate for the negative long-term financial impact.

Q: What Happens if You Get in an Accident While Drunk in California?

A: California takes driving under the influence very seriously, especially when an incident has resulted in injury and death. Anyone found guilty could face civil claims and criminal charges with fines, a license suspension, and even jail time to deter the behavior from happening again in the future. The more DUI convictions someone receives, the higher these punishments will be each time. Those accused of drunk driving will have a chance to defend themselves in court.

Q: How Do I Report a Drunk Driver in California?

A: If you suspect someone has been drunk driving in California, maintain a safe distance from the driver and do not attempt to stop them yourself. Take note of the vehicle’s details, such as color and license plate number, to share with the 911 operator. Also, be sure to share what direction the vehicle is heading. All of these details may assist law enforcement as they try to pull over the individual to prevent anyone else from being harmed.

Q: Can You Sue a Drunk Driver in California?

A: Yes, you have grounds to sue if you have been injured in an accident that was allegedly caused by a drunk driver. You can file a personal injury claim, in which you must link the driver’s negligent behavior to any injuries they caused. You will be able to seek compensation for damages like medical expenses and property damage to help pay for incurred expenses you did not cause. These claims are separate from any other criminal charges the driver may also be facing.

Contact Heimanson & Wolf, LLP, Today

If you have been hit by a drunk driver who caused the accident, connect with the legal team at Heimanson & Wolf, LLP. We are a team of personal injury attorneys ready to help you move on with your life and obtain the compensation you need and deserve. See how we can help you achieve the justice you deserve for suffering from a drunk driving accident today.

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