If you were hurt in an accident caused by a drunk driver in NYC, you may have the right to sue that driver for financial compensation.
These cases can be complex–even if there is no question that the drunk driver caused the crash.
Call an experienced NYC car accident lawyer at Rosenbaum & Rosenbaum, P.C. to get help filing a claim for compensation today. Your initial case evaluation is free.
Why it’s Important to Hire a Lawyer if You Were Hurt by a Drunk Driver: Navigating the Challenges
A driver who was legally intoxicated at the time of an accident in New York is almost always at fault for the accident. That means you can recover compensation for your injuries from that driver, right?
While technically true, recovering financial compensation for injuries sustained in a drunk driving accident is rarely so simple. In some cases, the drunk driver may not even have sufficient car insurance to cover your injuries–or may be completely uninsured, especially after repeated DUI/DWI offenses.
New York drivers often try to save money by purchasing low-value car insurance policies (some provide as little as $25,000 per injured party).
It’s also important to remember that drunk driving alone does not automatically provide the grounds for a personal injury lawsuit. This is true even if the police charge the driver with driving under the influence of alcohol. You must also prove that the person caused the accident and resulting injuries to recover damages.
When a substantial insurance policy is at stake, the insurance company is likely to fight back. They might claim:
- Your actions actually caused the accident
- You didn’t really sustain your injuries in the accident (in other words, that they were pre-existing)
- Your damages award should be reduced under NYC contributory negligence rules
At Rosenbaum & Rosenbaum, P.C., our experienced NYC personal injury attorneys will fight back against these and any other defense tactics the insurance company employs. We will also work to identify any party who might be responsible for the crash–especially if the drunk driver was uninsured or under-insured.
New York “Dram Shop” Laws
Many drunk driving accident victims in New York wonder if it’s possible to hold a business responsible if the bartender “over-served” the driver. If the drunk driver lacks sufficient insurance and assets, holding a bar or restaurant liable may be an option for securing fair compensation.
Our lawyers have the skills and resources to conduct the in-depth investigation needed to establish dram shop liability. Eyewitness testimony can be key to establishing that the establishment’s employees continued to serve a driver who was visibly intoxicated. Video surveillance footage can also be useful in your claim against a bar or restaurant.
How Dangerous Are NYC Drunk Driving Accidents?
It is illegal to drive with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08% or higher in all 50 U.S. states. This is for good reason. According to a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) report, 10,511 fatal motor vehicle accidents involved at least one drunk driver in 2018. That means 29% of all fatal car crashes in 2018 involved someone with a BAC of 0.08% or more.
Further, the report found that younger drunk drivers (those aged 21 to 24) are more likely to be involved in fatal motor vehicle accidents than drivers in other age groups.
In New York alone, 3,752 people were killed in drunk driving crashes between 2003-2012. Beginning in 2019, New York law enforcement officials began a program where they are making the location where an intoxicated driver last drank available to the STOP-DWI program in the state. This system is designed to help convince bars and restaurants to take steps to prevent overseving or allowing intoxicated patrons to drive.
Signs that a Drunk Driver Caused Your New York Car Accident
Alcohol has a significant impact on the body. The damage caused by a drunk driving accident can be even more serious than other types of auto accidents because of that impact. Signs that the at-fault driver was drunk behind the wheel may include:
- Weaving between lanes
- Driving at an unusually slow speed
- Delayed reaction time when leaving a traffic light or stop sign
- Blurred vision
Alcohol dulls the senses and delays a driver’s response time–which is the key reason drunk driving is so dangerous. A drunk driver may be physically unable to respond quickly enough to prevent an otherwise avoidable accident.
Drunk Driving Accidents Have Serious Consequences for Accident Victims
Victims of serious car accidents caused by drunk drivers in New York City can be severely hurt. A drunk driving crash can lead to serious and even catastrophic injuries, such as:
- Brain injuries
- Spinal cord damage
- Serious head and neck injuries
- Broken bones
- Burn injuries
- Nerve damage
- Soft tissue injuries
- Organ damage
- Chest injuries
- Wrongful death
Our lawyers know how overwhelming a serious injury can be. If you were hurt by a drunk driver, call Rosenbaum & Rosenbaum, P.C. for a free case review today.
Time Limits for Suing a Drunk Driver in NYC
If you were hurt in an accident caused by a drunk driver, you only have three years to file a lawsuit. The clock on this “statute of limitations” begins to run on the date of the accident. If you fail to file within the three-year period, you forfeit your right to sue entirely.
Damages Available to New York Drunk Driving Accident Victims
New York personal injury laws give accident victims the right to sue for compensation (known as damages). A primary complication in drunk driving accident cases is determining which party will ultimately be responsible for paying. Potentially responsible parties might include:
- A drunk driver with sufficient assets to pay
- The at-fault driver’s insurance company
- Your own insurance company
- A bar, restaurant or social host who over-served the driver
- The employer of the drunk driver if the accident took place while the driver was on the job
Our lawyers will work to identify all parties who may share financial responsibility for the accident. Each potential option carries its own set of complications–and the availability of compensation may depend upon the extent of your injuries.
Insurance Complications: The “Serious Injury” Threshold
Most car accident victims recover at least part of the compensation they deserve from the car insurance companies. Under New York insurance laws, accident claims based on negligence only permit the victim to recover compensation for “economic” damages from the at-fault party’s insurance company.
Examples of economic damages include:
- Hospital and ER room expenses
- Medical bills
- Physical therapy and rehab costs
- Lost wages
- Property damage
An exception exists if the drunk driver caused “serious injuries”. A serious injury for purposes of the New York state insurance laws is one that results in:
- Significant disfigurement
- Broken bones
- Loss of a fetus
- Permanent loss of the use of an important bodily function, system or member
- Permanent or significant limitations on the use of a bodily organ or member
- A injury that results in disability lasting at least 90 days
The serious injury threshold requires a fact-intensive analysis. What causes a significant limitation is always a question of fact.
At Rosenbaum & Rosenbaum, P.C., our skilled New York personal injury lawyers have over 40 years of experience helping clients recover full compensation. We will fight to get the fair compensation you need to cover the entire cost of your injuries.
Our experienced car accident lawyers can make a strong case for your right to non-economic damages, whether based on serious injury or by filing a civil lawsuit for personal injury. Non-economic damages include compensation for:
- Pain and suffering
- Diminished quality of life
- Emotional distress
- Damages for wrongful death in fatality cases
These forms of compensation are designed to make you whole again. But what about punishing the drunk driver for the damages caused? In especially shocking cases, New York law allows punitive damages designed solely to punish the person who caused your accident.
Punitive Damages in DWI/DUI Accident Cases
Punitive damages provide additional compensation for accident victims who are injured in extreme circumstances. Punitive damages are awarded only to punish the at-fault party. Because they don’t compensate the victim for any specified loss, they are only available if the defendant’s actions were “willful and wanton.”
Drunk driving is exactly the type of shocking, willful behavior that New York authorities want to deter. Insurance companies are not obligated to pay punitive damages. Our experienced personal injury lawyers can, however, file a lawsuit claiming these additional damages.
The bar for recovering punitive damages is high, but a skilled NYC drunk driving accident attorney can make a strong case in favor of this additional compensation.
An Experienced New York City Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer Can Fight to Hold Drunk Drivers Accountable
At Rosenbaum & Rosenbaum, P.C., we take an aggressive approach to holding drunk drivers accountable for their actions. From investigating your claim to negotiating with the insurance companies, we are well-qualified to handle every aspect of your car accident case.
To learn more, call our personal injury law firm to schedule a free consultation with a NYC drunk driving accident lawyer today. We represent clients in NYC, including across Staten Island.