Hit by a Drunk Driver in Illinois: What You Need to Know

Being hit by a drunk driver is a traumatic experience that can leave victims with severe injuries and emotional scars. In Illinois, the law takes drunk driving very seriously, and there are specific steps you need to follow if you find yourself in this unfortunate situation. This blog post aims to guide you through the essential information and steps you need to take after being hit by a drunk driver in Illinois.

Table of Contents

1. Understanding Drunk Driving Laws in Illinois

Illinois has stringent laws against drunk driving to protect its citizens. The legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit in Illinois is 0.08% for drivers aged 21 and over, and any driver found exceeding this limit can be charged with Driving Under the Influence (DUI). For commercial drivers, the limit is 0.04%, and for drivers under 21, Illinois has a zero-tolerance policy.

Penalties for DUI in Illinois can include fines, license suspension, and even imprisonment, depending on the severity of the offense and whether it is a repeat offense. Understanding these laws can help you navigate the legal landscape if you are involved in an accident with a drunk driver.

2. Immediate Steps to Take After the Accident

If you are hit by a drunk driver, the first few moments are crucial. Here are the steps you should take immediately:

  • Ensure Safety: Move to a safe location if possible and check for injuries.
  • Call 911: Report the accident and request medical assistance if needed.
  • Gather Information: Collect details of the other driver, witnesses, and take photos of the scene.
  • Avoid Confrontation: Do not engage in an argument with the drunk driver.
  • Seek Medical Attention: Even if you feel fine, get a medical check-up as some injuries may not be immediately apparent.

Victims of drunk driving accidents have several legal options to pursue justice and compensation:

  • Criminal Charges: The state can file criminal charges against the drunk driver.
  • Civil Lawsuit: You can file a personal injury lawsuit to seek compensation for damages.
  • Dram Shop Laws: In Illinois, you can also hold establishments that served alcohol to the driver liable under certain conditions.

4. Filing a Personal Injury Claim

Filing a personal injury claim involves several steps:

  • Consult an Attorney: An experienced personal injury attorney can guide you through the process.
  • Investigate the Accident: Gather evidence, including police reports, medical records, and witness statements.
  • File the Claim: Your attorney will help you file the claim within the Illinois statute of limitations, which is generally two years from the date of the accident.
  • Negotiations and Settlement: Many cases are settled out of court, but be prepared for a trial if necessary.

5. Compensation You May Be Entitled To

Victims of drunk driving accidents may be entitled to various types of compensation, including:

  • Medical Expenses: Covers current and future medical bills.
  • Lost Wages: Compensation for time off work due to injuries.
  • Pain and Suffering: Damages for physical pain and emotional distress.
  • Punitive Damages: In some cases, additional damages to punish the drunk driver.