Stay Safe: How to Avoid Being Injured by a Drunk Driver

NJ personal injury

Almost thirty percent of all car accidents are caused by drinking and driving. In New Jersey alone, there are hundreds of fatalities and thousands of serious injuries caused by drunk driving per year. Drunk driving accidents increase around the holidays, as people are attending more family celebrations, work functions, and other parties where alcohol is typically served.  Use the following tips to keep you and your family safe and to avoid becoming the victim of a drunk driving accident.

 

Buckle-up!

There’s a reason for that annoying seatbelt ding in your car and police departments’ “click-it-or-ticket” campaigns. Wearing a seatbelt is your best defense against injury in a drunk driving accident. Using a seatbelt the correct way has been proven to significantly reduce the chance of a fatal crash. Wear your seatbelt with the bottom strap across your hips and the top strap resting across your chest and collar bone. Making sure you and your passengers are always secured with a seatbelt could be a life-saving precaution—not to mention, it’s the law!

 

Minimize Night Driving

While a drunk driving accident can happen at any time, your chances of encountering a drunk driver increase later at night. Reduced visibility and potentially slippery roads can serve to further impair already inebriated drivers. Try to avoid driving on well-traveled roads in the evening and nighttime hours. If you do have to drive at night, make sure you are cautious and fully alert.

 

Drive Cautiously

During the holiday season, take the time to use extra precautions while you’re driving. Maintaining a generous following distance will give you extra time to react to any erratic driving in front of you. If you notice an erratic driver behind you, slow down and try to stay out of their path. Intersections can be particularly dangerous, with drunk drivers ignoring posted stop or yield signs. Don’t assume a car will stop. Wait for other cars to come to a complete stop before crossing an intersection.

 

Know the Signs of a Drunk Driver

Practicing defensive driving is always a smart choice, but sometimes the best way to deal with drunk drivers on the road is to avoid them all together. Knowing what to look out for when you are driving will help you steer clear of any impaired drivers. If you see any of these indicators, pull to the side of the road and call 911. Provide a description of the vehicle if you can and alert the police to the location and direction the car is traveling. Hopefully, they will be able to catch up to the driver and prevent an accident.

Signs of a drunk driver include:

  • Swerving or weaving in and out of their lane
  • Headlights are off when it’s dark
  • Frequent braking for no reason
  • Sudden turns
  • Driving way above or way below the speed limit
  • Delayed response to traffic lights

 

Be a Responsible Party Guest/Host

You yourself are likely to attend a few holiday parties this year. Don’t become part of the problem. If you are driving, avoid all alcohol and stick to water or soda. Always remember that “buzzed” driving is just as bad as drunk driving. If you choose to consume alcohol, make sure you have a reliable designated driver that will not be consuming any alcohol that evening. If you are hosting the party, you are responsible for making sure everyone gets home safe. If you have even the smallest doubt about a friend’s ability to drive, help them find another way home or offer to let them sleep over.

 

If you have already been the unfortunate victim of a drunk driving accident, you deserve maximum compensation for your suffering. Veitengruber Law can help make sure you get the best representation for your case. While we do not represent personal injury cases, we do evaluate them. We can assess your case and refer you to the right personal injury attorney in our network of trusted professionals.

Have a safe holiday season!

Involved in a Pedestrian Motor Vehicle Accident? Go to the ER!

personal injury NJ

Pedestrian accidents have dramatically increased in the last 2 years. In 2016 and 2017, accidents involving pedestrians reached a 25-year high. Each of those years saw 6,000 deaths of pedestrians in motor vehicle accidents. There has been a convergence of contributing factors.

 

  • Distracted drivers—Drivers can be distracted by anything: turning on the air conditioner, taking a bite of a sandwich, rolling down their window, talking to other people in the car. These tasks typically only take a few seconds, but texting while driving takes drivers’ eyes away from the road for longer periods of time and is the cause of 1 out of every 4 car accidents.

 

  • Distracted pedestrians—Pedestrians eliminate two of their crucial senses when walking in traffic with their phones: sight (by looking at the screen), and hearing (by wearing headphones and listening to music.) While pedestrians have the right of way, they become a hazard when they aren’t paying attention.

 

  • Legal marijuana use—The availability of legal marijuana in some states has contributed to a slight rise in motor vehicle accidents.

 

  • Illegal and/or prescription drug use—The opioid epidemic has meant an increase in drug abuse, and since it is harder to test for, driving under the influence of opioids and other medications has led to more accidents.

 

All of these have contributed to a 46% increase in pedestrian accidents which means that more people than ever are at risk.

If you are a pedestrian involved in a motor vehicle accident, it is crucial to know what to do. Without question, you must seek emergency care. Whether you believe you need treatment or not, insist on transport or travel to the ER yourself.

 

Why it’s important to go to the ER

When you are involved in an accident, your body and your brain go into protective mode. Your adrenaline goes into action, your heart starts blood pumping faster, and you become excited. Your injuries may seem minimal or non-existent. You may leave the accident feeling fine and decide not to seek medical treatment. Eventually, whether minutes or hours later, the body’s fight-or-flight reaction calms down and the effects of the accident become more evident. Your injuries may have been more extensive than you originally thought. You may have even made your injury by waiting to seek care.

Any delay in seeking medical treatment can be used as justification for an insurance claim denial. It is important to go to the ER immediately to get an accurate record of all of your injuries, no matter how minor. The medical record will be used as evidence for your insurance or personal injury claim.

 

What to do when you get there

  • Make it clear that a motor vehicle was involved. This may seem like an obvious point, but if this information is missing from the medical report it will make your auto insurance claim difficult to prove.
  • Report all of your injuries — even minor ones. While you may be more focused on broken bones or abrasions, don’t forget to report soreness, stiffness, headaches, neck or back pain, and even slight sprains or bruises. Any injury can become serious, and if it is missing from the initial medical report, an insurance adjuster will argue that it is unrelated to the accident.

 

Should you go to your PCP or urgent care center?

Primary care physicians typically do not have the ability to see patients immediately and the sooner you seek treatment the better for your health and for any claim you may make in a case. They will also likely send you for testing at another facility with X-ray, MRI, CAT Scan, and send you for blood work. Rather than chasing all of those things down separately, the ER is much better equipped to treat your needs. An urgent care center will be able to perform more tests than your PCP, but if your injuries are extensive and you need to be admitted you will have to go to the hospital anyway.

After your accident it is important to seek legal counsel. At Veitengruber Law, we have the knowledge and experience to fully and thoroughly evaluate your case. PLEASE NOTE THAT YOUR CONSULTATION WILL BE FREE OF CHARGE.

We will then refer you to the best personal injury attorney for your situation. Our professional network allows us to reach out to a number of very talented and caring personal injury NJ attorneys. Seek legal representation as soon as possible after your accident to ensure that your case gets the proper attention and results.