How to Collect Evidence After a Drunk Driving Car Accident

March 20, 2024 | Jarrett Blakeley
How to Collect Evidence After a Drunk Driving Car Accident

Navigating the chaos that ensues after a drunk driving accident can be a nightmare. The aftermath is often filled with police questioning, medical treatments, insurance claims, and emotional shock. The harsh reality heightens when you understand that drunk driving accidents are an alarming issue in Florida, a state plagued with high DUI accident rates. 

As you take the first steps on the road to recovery, you may be considering legal recourse against the drunk driver responsible for your pain and distress. One cornerstone of building a solid personal injury claim or lawsuit after a drunk driving accident is evidence. It is the tangible proof that someone was negligent, injured you, and is responsible for the damages you suffered. 

Successfully collecting, preserving, and presenting this evidence is critical in aiding your pursuit of justice. Knowing what evidence to look for, how to collect it, and how to leverage it in your case does not have to be a solo endeavor. The car accident attorneys at Blakeley Law Firm have a profound understanding of Florida's drunk driving laws and are ready to guide you through this challenging process.

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What to Know About Drunk Driving Accidents in Florida

Judge's gavel on a table, glass of whiskey and miniature car.

Drunk driving accidents are more than just sobering statistics; they represent real people's lives turned upside down in an instant. Every day, our law firm sees drunk driving accident cases throughout Florida that could have been prevented if not for the reckless actions of drivers who choose to get behind the wheel after drinking. 

According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, over 5,000 accidents in a recent year were attributed to alcohol-impaired driving, causing thousands of injuries and hundreds of fatalities. Behind every one of these numbers is a story of personal disaster and upheaval, unsettling proof of the mortal danger that drunk drivers pose to our communities.

These figures are a stark reminder of the horrendous impact of drunk driving and underline the profound importance of seeking justice for victims. Taking proactive steps, like accurately collecting evidence after a drunk driving accident, can play an instrumental role in holding the guilty party accountable and establishing a strong groundwork for your claim.

Why Evidence is Crucial in a DUI Accident Case

Collecting evidence after a drunk driving accident strengthens your claim, painting a poignant picture of how the accident occurred, showcasing the distracted driving involved, and capturing the disruption and trauma it has caused to your life. Investigation after a car accident is not an arbitrary task; it's the foundation upon which your case is built and can directly affect the value of your compensation in a settlement or court verdict. Like pieces of a puzzle, every shred of evidence contributes to a bigger, comprehensive picture that vividly illustrates what happened, who's responsible, and the depth of the impact on your life. Yet, it's important to remember that the process of evidence gathering, while critical, can be complex and daunting without professional assistance from a skilled Florida car accident lawyer. 

Preserving Evidence After a Florida Car Accident

When it comes to reacting in the immediate aftermath of a drunk driving accident, time is of the essence. Gathering a comprehensive record of the incident starts right then and there, and prompt action at the scene keeps you safe and protects your rights in the future. In fact, many types of evidence used in a drunk driving accident case involve you getting to safety and seeking the medical attention you need for your injuries. 

Call 911

Your first priority should always be safety. If you can, call 911 immediately after the accident and get law enforcement and medical personnel to the scene. The responding officers will compile a police report. This vital document often serves as the bedrock of your case, providing a detailed account of the incident from an impartial third party.

Document the Scene

While waiting for the police, begin documenting the accident scene yourself if it's safe to do so. Take photographs or videos of the vehicles involved, the accident layout, points of impact, skid marks, traffic signs, road conditions, visible injuries, and other relevant details.

Witness Statements

Eyewitness testimony can be extremely important in legal proceedings. It provides a third-party perspective and could affirm the other driver's intoxication or negligent behavior. Act quickly to identify any witnesses at the scene, politely request their account of what happened, and be sure to also ask for their contact information. Witnesses can be difficult to locate after an accident, especially as time goes on. 

Seek Medical Attention

Your health should never be optional. Even if your injuries appear minor, it is necessary to get a medical check-up, as some severe injuries might not exhibit symptoms immediately. On top of safeguarding your health, this results in detailed medical records documenting your injuries, forming a crucial piece of evidence tying your injuries to the accident.

Other Types of Evidence in a Drunk Driving Accident Case

After you’ve left the scene of the accident and received appropriate medical treatment, your next step should be to contact a personal injury attorney. Your car accident lawyer can help you gather many other types of evidence that will strengthen your claim to compensation. 

Breathalyzer and Field Sobriety Test Results

Law enforcement often employs these tests to establish if the person behind the wheel was intoxicated. Failure or refusal to participate in these tests can also be used as evidence in court, painting a picture of probable impairment.

It's also helpful to note here that in Florida, you're deemed to have given consent to submit to these tests by virtue of having a driver's license. This is known as Florida's implied consent law, meaning refusal could result in penalties, including license suspension.

Vehicle Damage

The severity and location of damage to your vehicle can corroborate the accident and highlight the negligent behavior of the drunk driver. For instance, a rear-end collision could suggest the drunk driver's failure to maintain a safe distance or slowed reaction times.

Accident Reconstruction

As with other types of accidents, reconstruction experts can be helpful in a drunk driving case. These specialists can revisit the crash, analyzing various elements, including skid marks, vehicle damage, and witness accounts collectively to reconstruct the incident. This can help confirm details such as speed, sequence of events, and, importantly, fault.

Black Box Data

Most modern vehicles house a gem for accident-related evidence: the Event Data Recorder (EDR), also called a black box, much like its namesake in airplanes. This can reveal insightful data, including speed at the time of impact, brake usage, or even seatbelt use. Accessing this data, however, may require legal assistance due to privacy concerns.

Financial Records

Alcoholic beverage purchases on a credit or debit card statement close to the time of the accident could serve as circumstantial evidence of intoxication. Additionally, evidence indicating that a bar or restaurant knowingly over-served a customer can mean other parties could be partially responsible for the accident

What if the Drunk Driver Leaves the Scene? 

A young man drives a car with a bottle of beer.

What if the drunk driver, in their impaired state, decides to flee the scene of the accident? That’s a tough pill to swallow. It's illegal, unethical, and downright infuriating. But worry not. Even in such disconcerting situations, there may still be ways to pursue legal action effectively. 

Hit-and-run scenarios add another layer to your claim pursuit, especially in terms of evidence collection. However, you can still take specific steps to keep your claim on the right track.

While it may be difficult to remember, any details you can identify after the accident may help locate the drunk driver. The car's make, model, color, or license plate number can help lead investigators to the offender. Witness testimony in these cases can also be helpful. Depending on where the accident happened, your attorney may also be able to uncover security camera footage. 

Call 911 and report the hit-and-run instantly. Unlike traditional accidents, this act instigates not just an accident report; it may also lead to a criminal investigation. Accurate reporting can aid law enforcement in tracking down the runaway driver.

Florida law is on your side in this. Fleeing the scene of an accident is a felony under Florida law. Once brought to justice, the offender may face severe penalties. 

All is not lost if the offender is not immediately found. Uninsured Motorist (UM) coverage in your own policy could come into play, providing a source of potential compensation. Additionally, your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance can cover up to $10,000 in damages after a hit-and-run accident. Assuming that your damages are more than this, speaking to a car accident attorney about your legal options after a hit-and-run is especially important. 

How a Car Accident Attorney Can Help

While you're focused on recuperating and getting your life back on track, the thought of handling legal complexities single-handedly is a monumental task. That's precisely why you need a seasoned legal ally by your side, such as those at the Blakeley Law Firm.

A skilled attorney doesn't just lead your legal campaign; they take on the role of a seasoned investigator, meticulously collecting and piecing together evidence vital to your case. They have the capability to subpoena records, interview witnesses, consult experts, access video surveillance, and even use digital data recovery tools, thereby building a strong case for you. 

This compilation of accident scenes, witness statements, medical records, and more doesn't just substantiate your injuries and their impact on your life; it helps establish liability, pinning the blame where it rightfully belongs. A strong foundation of evidence could make it challenging for the opposing party or insurance companies to dispute your claim. It can also impact the compensation you receive. Proven damages, like medical costs or lost wages, can significantly influence the awarded settlement or verdict — especially when combined with the compelling representation of a personal injury lawyer who can use this evidence in your favor. 

Contact a Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer at Blakeley Law Firm Today

A drunk driving accident, as brutal and life-altering as it can be, doesn't signal the end of the road. Instead, it marks the beginning of a new journey towards justice. 

Our personal injury attorney at Blakeley Law Firm is here to extend a helping hand to Broward County, Duval County, Palm Beach, and Miami-Dade residents after a motor vehicle accident. Our mission is to equip you with the knowledge you need to make informed decisions and be your ally in the pursuit of justice. Contact us or call 800-602-5000 today to discover how we may be able to help you seek compensation for your drunk driving car accident. 

Jarrett Blakeley

Firm founder Jarrett Blakeley fights to get maximum compensation for all of Blakeley Law Firm’s clients. He has been practicing law since 2006 and takes great pride in representing the rights of injured individuals against the insurance companies and the law firms that represent them. He has successfully represented thousands of clients and recovered tens of millions of dollars on their behalf. Mr. Blakeley strives to give all of his clients personal attention and maximum effort and seeks to instill a firm culture that prioritizes customer service and compassion for the injured over all else. Fighting for the injured is Jarrett Blakeley’s greatest passion and he looks forward to fighting for the injured for the rest of his career.

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