With almost 18,000 alcohol-related collision deaths in the U.S. in 2006, it’s no surprise that drunk driving accidents are a common concern for many people. Although there are many laws that crack down on drunk driving, collisions and injuries still happen. Personal injury laws and questions of liability only complicate the matter. Whether you’re the victim of a DUI driver or are at fault yourself, find out what steps to take after a DUI injury.

If you’re the victim:

There are three main steps to take following a DUI injury.

First, assess the damages to your vehicle and person. Although it may not be the first thing on your mind after an accident, it’s important to document all damages at the scene of the accident. Take photographic evidence if you’re still in the vicinity of the collision. This makes it easier to prove liability later on through your insurance company or if you pursue legal action. Of course, your injuries may be too severe to do this immediately.

If you’re taken to a hospital right away, you can still document vehicle damages after the fact. Focus on your personal injuries at this time and keep records of all hospital procedures. Additionally, request a copy of the police report and retain it for your records. These documents will come in handy later on.

Second, begin the insurance claim process. After collecting all proof of damages, the police report, and hospital procedure documents, you’ll need to get in touch with your insurance company. File a claim and submit all documents collected. This will assist the insurance company in proving liability. Avoid giving a statement to the other party’s insurance carrier until you’ve collected these documents and have the police report. You can always file under your own company, who will handle the process on your behalf and reimburse you through the process of subrogation. Providing the right documentation also results in a smoother settlement process.

Third, don’t settle right away. You can’t return to the settlement process after it’s settled, even if you suffer from long-term injuries that weren’t apparent at first. A Denver accident lawyer can help you determine what the right steps are for your settlement process. Make sure you receive proper reimbursement for all DUI injuries.

If you’re at fault:

The steps you should take following a collision injury are similar if you’re the drunk driver. It’s wise to keep all documentation like photos and the police report handy for your insurance company. You’ll need to file under your own company and pay out your deductibles without reimbursement. In fact, if you are convicted of a DUI offense, your insurance rates will most likely skyrocket because of the accident. Being convicted of a DUI is a serious charge and comes with severe penalties. Your license could be revoked and your insurance company may have leave to drop you, as well.

A drunk driver is considered negligent in most cases of alcohol-related collisions. However, there are ways to defend yourself and your case. Since an aggravated DUI conviction results in civil liabilities, you’ll need a lawyer to prove that your BAC had nothing to do with the accident. An attorney can call in witnesses or use your documentation to defend your case. Settling for a first-offense DUI is a lot less severe than an aggravated DUI, so this is something that a Denver accident lawyer can help you prove. If the accident truly wasn’t caused by your BAC, the judge may issue a fine instead of jail time. However, you’ll still be held liable for all injuries and damages caused to the other party.