The aftermath of a drunk driving crash can leave a victim drowning in a sea of pain and paperwork. Victims and their families struggle to navigate a new normal that can include things like surgeries, hospital stays, rehabilitation, doctor visits, physical therapy and a growing mountain of medical bills.
As mentioned in a previous post, the best course of action immediately following a crash is to retain an experienced attorney. The victim and their family need to focus on the healing process and leave the legal aspect to a well-versed attorney who can act on their behalf. An experienced attorney will answer questions and provide much needed guidance for the weeks, months and, sometimes sadly, years ahead.
I’ve retained an attorney, now what?
Keep a journal.
Many times the days and weeks following a drunk driving crash are a blur to the victim. Depending on the severity of the injuries, it may be difficult to remember what happened and how. As soon as possible, the victim should begin journaling about the accident and the physical/emotional pain they experience afterward. Victims of drunk drivers suffer both physical and emotional loss. Documentation of those losses is key to the prosecution of your personal injury case.
Experienced counsel will be able to educate you on those harms that are compensable under Missouri law and direct you on the type of information you need to record as you recover from your injuries. However, in all cases, a victim should take basic notes identifying the “what, when and how” of the harms.
Keep a tight lip.
While the victim should keep a journal of the ordeal, it is best to avoid social media. Do not post anything about the collision on Facebook, Instagram, or any other social media platform. Do not tweet about the incident, your injuries, your medical care and recovery, or your day-to-day struggles. In sum, keep your business just that – your business. Posting information on social media not only informs your “friends” of your business, but also any party investigating you.
And, yes, should you choose to make a claim against the drunk driver, you will be investigated. Your words will be twisted. Your words will be taken out of context. Don’t hurt yourself by providing ammunition to the drunk driver’s insurance company. It’s easy – stay away from social media!
Finally, do not discuss the matter with anyone other than your spouse, health care providers, and your counsel. Communications between you and your lawyer, your spouse, your clergy and your insurer are privileged and confidential. No one can force you or these people to discuss the communications.
Further, communications between you and your doctors, nurses, therapists, counselors and other health providers for the purpose of treating a medical condition are also confidential. Again, no one can force your or the provider to discuss the communications.
However, in most other cases, all bets are off. Don’t put a friend, co-worker or acquaintance in a tough spot by providing them with information that they need not know.
Matt Devoti is a Partner with Casey & Devoti, a St. Louis-based personal injury law firm. Matt handles all types of personal injury cases with a special emphasis on victims of drunk and distracted driving crashes.