Steps to Take if You’ve Been Injured in an Auto Accident Caused by an Impaired Driver

As alcohol sales are on the rise in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Washington residents should familiarize themselves with steps to take if they are injured by a drunk driver. Key strategies include contacting law enforcement, not engaging with the intoxicated driver, and calling an attorney.

Suffering an injury that’s caused by another driver can result in a lengthy recovery, expensive medical bills, lost wages, and other costs. When the at-fault driver is driving under the influence of alcohol or other controlled substances, the scope and nature of your injuries or damage to your car could be greater. If you suspect that the driver who was responsible for your injuries was driving while intoxicated, there are certain steps you can take to ensure that you receive the assistance and compensation that you deserve following this devastating incident. 

A Growing Problem

Over the last few months, retailers and health officials have found that alcohol sales have increased dramatically. Many believe that the increased consumption of alcohol is tied to fears about the coronavirus (COVID-19), as people may be turning to alcohol as a coping mechanism to deal with an uncertain future. Recent estimates show that online sales of alcohol in the U.S. increased fivefold during the month of April, as compared to April 2019. With most bars and restaurants closed to the public, people are purchasing greater quantities of alcohol and seem to be consuming more than they used to. While many intoxicated people are drinking at home and not venturing out on the roads, there are still a considerable amount of DUI-related crashes that continue to take place across the country. 

What You Can Do Immediately Following a Car Accident

Whenever an auto accident occurs, the involved parties should move to a safe area and exchange contact information while waiting for medical assistance and law enforcement to arrive. However, if you suspect that the other driver is intoxicated, it’s probably better to not engage them in conversation. Their impaired condition could make them belligerent, incoherent, or unpredictable, so it’s safer to remain in your vehicle and contact the police. If someone at the scene requires immediate medical attention, call for an ambulance as soon as possible. While you wait for the ambulance and the police officers to arrive, jot down the license plate number of the other vehicle and any other relevant information you can gather about the incident. As soon as the police arrive, inform them of your suspicions, and they can proceed accordingly.

How Washington’s Comparative Fault Applies to Accidents Involving a DUI

As Washington is a comparative fault state, the judge or jury will determine the percentage of responsibility for all parties involved in an accident. So, even if you were injured by another driver, the judge may find that you failed to signal properly and this small detail makes you 30 percent responsible for the accident. As a result, you’ll only be able to obtain 70 percent of the total damages awarded. However, when there’s evidence to show that the other driver was driving while intoxicated, this will likely prompt the judge and jury to find them liable for the accident. Working with an experienced personal injury attorney can help you present a compelling case, allowing you to recover the financial compensation you need to get your life back on track.


If you or someone you love has been injured in an auto accident, the dedicated and compassionate legal team at Henderson Taylor Law Firm are ready to help. Call our Vancouver office today at (360) 737-1478 to speak to a knowledgeable personal injury attorney.