Drivers of all ages know that drunk driving is illegal and can lead to dangerous and deadly car crashes, truck crashes, and motorcycle crashes. Unfortunately, this does not stop numerous Brooklyn motorists from consuming too much beer, wine, or liquor and getting behind the wheel of their vehicle. Drunk driving accidents have drastically decreased across the nation over the last several decades; however, they still occur far too often, especially in Brooklyn.
Brooklyn regularly ranks near the top of the list of state areas with the highest number of drunk driving accidents. In one recent year, it came in second. These accidents lead to severe and life-threatening injuries, some of which lead to death.
New York law permits you to seek compensation for damages related to your injuries if a drunk driver hits you, so you should immediately consult with an attorney if you have sustained injuries in a drunk driving accident.
Until you can discuss your case with an attorney, the following information about Brooklyn drunk driving accidents provides examples of recent drunk driving crashes in Brooklyn, how your insurance factors into a Brooklyn drunk driving accident, and third-party liability in drunk driving accident claims. You can also learn more about what to do to preserve the value of your claim after a drunk driving accident.
Brooklyn Drunk Driving Accidents in the News
Other drivers, passengers, cyclists, bikers, and pedestrians risk suffering injuries at the hands of a drunk driver. Unfortunately, these news stories commonly appear in the newspaper, on television, and online. Some recent news stories involving Brooklyn drunk driving accidents include:
Drunk Driver Kills Brooklyn Woman Near Her Home
A 49-year old alleged drunk driver hit a 62-year-old woman while she crossed Atlantic Avenue between Third Avenue and Nevins Street. The woman was steps from the apartment building where she lived. Emergency response teams transported her to Brooklyn Hospital Center via ambulance, where she was pronounced dead after going into cardiac arrest.
Drunk Driver Causes Accident with Lyft Vehicle
A 51-year-old man allegedly drove in the wrong direction and caused a head-on collision with a Lyft vehicle, killing one of the occupants and severely injuring the other two people in the vehicle. The drunk driver traveled more than two miles in the Belt Parkway westbound lane before colliding with the Lyft vehicle entered the Belt Parkway at exit three, coming from JFK International Airport. The drunk driver’s blood alcohol content was allegedly over 0.18, more than twice the legal limit for driving.
Off-Duty NYPD Officer Involved in Brooklyn Accident
A 30-year-old NYPD officer got into an accident at Farragut Road and East 92nd Street in Canarsie. Fortunately, no victims reported injuries in this accident. The circumstances of the accident were unclear and could include another moving vehicle or parked vehicle. Responding officers suspected intoxication, but the officer allegedly refused to take a Breathalyzer to determine his breath alcohol level.
Filing an Insurance Claim After a Brooklyn Drunk Driving Accident
New York is one of a handful of no-fault insurance states. Each driver who registers a vehicle must purchase minimum insurance coverage, including $50,000 in personal injury protection (PIP) insurance. PIP is no-fault coverage that helps those who suffer injuries in an accident get the medical treatment they receive and return to their job as soon as possible.
New York PIP insurance benefits include:
- Reasonable and necessary medical treatment costs, including those for rehabilitation
- Up to $2,000 per month to cover 80 percent of lost wages for up to three years
- Up to $25 each day for up to a year to reimburse policyholders for expenses related to their accident, such as household help and transportation costs to and from the hospital or doctor
- A $2,000 death benefits payment for the estate of someone who died in a motor vehicle accident
Drunk driving accident victims must file a claim under their own PIP policy and exhaust their policy limits before taking action against the drunk driver who caused the accident and their injuries. Medical expenses and lost income from severe drunk driving accident injuries add up quickly and require accident victims to take further action to recover compensation. An experienced Brooklyn drunk driving accident lawyer can guide you on the right path for your situation.
In New York, your PIP insurance covers anyone riding in your vehicle who suffered injuries. PIP coverage also includes drivers from the same household, such as spouses and teen drivers. New York PIP coverage also extends to you if you suffered injuries as a pedestrian or while riding your bicycle and a drunk driver hit you. Your PIP insurance, however, does not extend to motorcycle crashes. If a drunk driver caused an accident while you were operating a motorcycle, you would have to step outside of New York’s no-fault insurance system to recover any compensation for your injuries.
Liability in Brooklyn Drunk Driving Accidents
Many assume that a drunk driver who causes an accident is automatically liable for damages related to the accident and injuries beyond what PIP insurance covers. This is often true. However, some situations exist in which other parties can share liability for drunk driving accident injuries. In most states, these exceptions fall under dram shop laws that govern the extent to which alcohol vendors and social hosts are liable for damages when they serve a person alcohol and he or she causes an accident.
New York’s dram shop laws are not as strict as some states. If a driver visits one of Brooklyn’s many bars or restaurants, drinks too much, gets behind the wheel, and causes an accident, a court will likely not hold the bar, bartender, restaurant, server, etc., liable for damages if the driver is an adult. The story changes if the drunk driver who caused your injuries is a minor under age 21. Bars, restaurants, and other establishments and social hosts open themselves to liability if they knowingly serve alcohol to a minor and the minor gets behind the wheel and causes an accident.
Preserving the Value of Your Brooklyn Drunk Driving Accident Claim
The steps you take in the hours, weeks, and months after sustaining injuries in a drunk driving accident can impact the strength of your Brooklyn drunk driving accident claim and the amount of money you might receive in compensation for damages. Depending on your timeline, follow as many of these guidelines as you can to preserve the value of your claim.
In some cases, an occupant of your vehicle can help you get information in the minutes after an accident occurs. Always put your safety first. If you cannot move your vehicle out of traffic, get out of your vehicle, head to someplace safe on the side of the road, and call 911 immediately if you are physically able.
Gather Contact Information
Always take care about approaching a drunk driver. People respond differently to alcohol, and some become angry and might be aggressive after an accident. If you are unsure of the driver’s demeanor, stay in your vehicle until law enforcement arrives at the scene of the accident. If it is safe and if you physically can, get the contact information of the driver, including name, address, phone, and email. You should also record the driver’s insurance information and license plate information if he tries to leave the accident scene before NYPD arrives.
Get Photographic Evidence
If your cell phone is in working condition after a Brooklyn drunk driving accident, take photos and video of the accident scene. Get pictures of any damage to your car, motorcycle, or bicycle if you are physically able. Also, take pictures of the damage to the drunk driver’s vehicle and license plates. Law enforcement will record information on their police report and will likely take pictures too. Yet, sometimes information disappears, the driver leaves the accident scene, or the police officer does not get the same pictures. Photographic evidence helps support your claim and is better than written words alone.
Seek Medical Treatment ASAP
If your accident was severe enough, emergency responders will likely come to the scene and transport you to one of Brooklyn’s hospitals, such as Brooklyn Hospital Center and Brookdale University Hospital Medical Center. If you are conscious and can walk, you might feel tempted to avoid immediate medical treatment.
Still, always seek medical treatment after an accident. Traffic accidents are traumatic events that release adrenaline throughout a person’s body, which can mask pain. Even if you do not feel sharp pain, you still could have hidden injuries, so you need to let a doctor check you out immediately. This protects your health and well-being and also provides medical documentation of your injuries for your insurance claim or Brooklyn drunk driving accident lawsuit.
Keep an Injury Journal
Insurance companies will fight tooth and nail to devalue your claim. One common tactic they use is to downplay an accident victim’s injuries. Your medical record will contain information about your injuries, but only what your doctor records during visits and treatments. Keep a daily journal to document the healing process and any struggles you face during your recovery. Not only should you document your physical struggles and pain, but you should also record the emotions and mental challenges. These provide more context and additional information that conveys the impact your injuries have on your day-to-day life.
Let an Attorney Handle Communications
Once you meet your PIP insurance policy limits and file an insurance claim with the drunk driver’s insurance carrier, you will have to speak with one of the representatives. Insurance adjusters sometimes play games and push ethical boundaries to trick you into saying something that can damage the value of your claim.
Additionally, they might try to get you to sign a waiver, sign a release for your medical history, or get you to give a recorded statement. Each of these things can potentially impact the value of your claim.
In some cases, cooperating could prevent you from recovering any compensation for injuries related to your Brooklyn drunk driving accident. Instead, it’s in your best interest to let an attorney handle communications with the insurance company. This protects your claim from tricky insurance companies that only care about their bottom line.
Do Not Post on Social Media
Once you file an insurance claim or lawsuit against a drunk driver, the insurance company will investigate the accident. Not only will they look at your medical records and evidence from the accident scene, but they will dig into every aspect of your life, including your social media accounts. They look for any pictures or comments about the accident to use against you, and they look for evidence that your injuries are not as severe as you claim. You do not have to close your accounts. Yet, if you were in a Brooklyn drunk driving accident, avoid posting on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, etc.
Only Discuss Your Case With Your Lawyer
Insurance companies will also speak with your friends, family, and colleagues after an accident to get information about your injuries and your condition. Those close to you do not want to intentionally jeopardize your claim, but they can unintentionally say something to diminish your claim’s value. Until your claim resolves, only discuss your accident and injuries with your lawyer. Your attorney is on your side and will advocate and negotiate for you.
Drunk driving accidents are traumatic events that devastate victims and their families. The financial aftermath of severe injuries adds layers of emotional stress to the physical pain of injury and recovery. High medical costs, lost income from missing work, and other related expenses cause some families to struggle with bills. You should not have to suffer financially if a drunk driver hits you while driving your car or motorcycle, or while biking or walking through Brooklyn. Contact an experienced Brooklyn drunk driving accident attorney today.