Hempstead residents who suffer severe and fatal injuries in senseless, 100 percent preventable drunk driving crashes deserve significant compensation for their injuries and losses. New York law gives them avenues for pursuing damages against not just drunk drivers, but others who have a legal duty to answer for a drunk driver’s conduct.
If you or a loved one sustained injuries in a Hempstead drunk driving accident, you will want to contact an experienced, Hempstead drunk driving accident injury attorney today. Here’s why.
The Dangers of Alcohol Impairment While Driving
A 26-year-old woman from Long Island was indicted on drunk driving and manslaughter charges recently, after causing a high-speed crash that left another woman dead and a child injured. The accident happened on the Meadowbrook Parkway. The drunk driver’s vehicle rear-ended the victims, causing the victims’ car to lose control, cross several lanes of traffic, and strike a tree.
Tragedies like this one occur with distressing regularity, throughout the country and in Hempstead. National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) statistics reflect that, on average, almost 30 Americans die in drunk driving accidents every day. That toll, which amounts to a fatality every 50 minutes, represents a tragic failure of public policy and personal responsibility.
Alcohol-impaired driving results in more than 10,000 traffic fatalities every year in the United States—approximately one-third of all traffic fatalities—making it one of the most deadly causes of traffic accidents.
Here in Hempstead, recent years have seen between 246 and 349 drunk driving crashes that produced injuries, and between 17 and 35 fatal crashes.
Alcohol impairs the functions of the brain, impacting both driving skills and the judgment needed to be a safe driver. Impairment is measured by determining the weight of alcohol in a volume of blood. The legal limit in which a driver is considered impaired in all of the U.S. except for Utah (where the legal limit is lower) is 0.08 grams of alcohol per deciliter of blood.
Contrary to popular belief, impairment doesn’t begin at the 0.08 blood alcohol content (BAC) limit, however. It begins with the first drink.
To illustrate, here is a look at several blood alcohol content levels and how they impair safe driving skills:
- 0.02 BAC (about one drink): The individual experiences some loss of judgment, altered mood, and slight body warmth. The driver’s ability to track a moving target and to perform multiple tasks simultaneously declines.
- 0.05 BAC: The individual experiences exaggerated behavior, some loss of small muscle control, impaired judgment, lowered alertness, and release of inhibition. Eyesight impairment begins, coordination decreases, and responses to emergency driving situations slow.
- 0.08 BAC (the legal limit): This level of impairment features poor muscle coordination, which causes difficulties with balance, speech, vision, reaction time, and hearing. Alcohol impairs judgment, self-control, and reasoning, and the individual finds it harder to detect danger. Pronounced deficits exist in the person’s ability to concentrate, control speed, and process information. The person experiences impaired visual perception.
- 0.10 BAC: There is a clear deterioration of the skills needed to react and control the motor vehicle, slurred speech, poor coordination, and slowed thinking. The individual is unable to maintain lane position or break effectively.
- 0.15 BAC: The individual risks vomiting from the amount of alcohol consumed and is suffering from a major loss of balance, an inability to pay attention to the task of driving, and has lost the ability to process information.
In other words, at any level of BAC, alcohol, and driving constitute a deadly combination. Anyone who makes the tragic decision to drive while impaired by alcohol, even if their BAC falls below the allowed limit, faces legal liability to anyone their actions harm.
Portrait of a Hempstead Drunk Driver
While there are drunk drivers in every age bracket and representing both genders, statistics indicate that certain individuals tend to drink and drive more often, and that drunk driving accidents are more likely to occur in certain settings than others.
Factors that increase a person’s likelihood of getting into a fatal drunk driving accident include:
- Being male. Around 21 percent of male drivers involved in fatal crashes were found to have a blood alcohol content of .08 or higher, as compared to 14 percent of female drivers.
- Being young. Drivers in the 21- to 24-year-old age bracket had the highest incidence of drunk driving fatal crashes, followed by those in the 24-34 year old demographic.
- Riding a motorcycle. Motorcyclists have a higher rate of fatal drunk driving accidents than any other operator of a motor vehicle on the roadway, with 27 percent of all motorcyclists involved in fatal crashes being legally impaired at the time of the crash. The drivers of passenger cars have the second-highest rate, with 21 percent of those involved in fatal crashes being drunk at the time of the accident.
- Repeat offenders. Drivers who cause fatal drunk driving crashes are four times more likely to have had previous convictions for drunk driving than drivers who are not alcohol impaired at the time of the fatal crash.
- Living, driving, and drinking in the city. 55 percent of all fatal drunk driving crashes take place in urban settings, while 44 percent occur in rural settings.
- Nighttime drivers. The vast majority of fatal drunk driving crashes occur during the hours of darkness. The rate of alcohol impaired drivers is 3.4 times higher at night than it is during the day.
The Costs of Hempstead Drunk Driving Accidents
Drunk driving accidents inflict massive social costs on the Hempstead community and on the nation as a whole. By some estimates, the collective cost of alcohol-impaired car accidents reaches $44 billion a year. We all bear some of that cost in the form of higher insurance premiums and taxes, not to mention sitting in traffic jams. However, victims bear the highest costs of all, suffering physical, emotional, and financial pain that can last a lifetime.
The costs borne disproportionately by Hempstead drunk driving accident victims and their families—for which they deserve compensation—include:
- Medical expenses relating to a drunk driving crash injury, including co-pays and deductibles, long-term care stays, medication, medical equipment, surgeries, and therapy. Suffering a severe injury like brain trauma, amputation, or spinal damage, can mean these expenses never go away.
- Non-medical expenses connected to living with an injury inflicted by a drunk driver, especially services to perform tasks the injury temporarily or permanently prevents the victim from doing, such as childcare, transportation, or keeping house.
- Property damage resulting from the drunk driving accident. Auto insurance may not cover the cost of fully-replacing a vehicle totaled in a crash, especially if an injury makes driving a new or specialized vehicle necessary.
- Lost earnings (past and future) from missing work because of an injury, burning through paid time off or vacation days, and struggling or being unable to return to work. injured to work or missing work to attend an injury-related appointment
- Pain, suffering, and diminished quality of life resulting from the physical and emotional trauma of sustaining injuries in a Hempstead drunk driving accident. Oftentimes, this discomfort and agony last even longer than the financial difficulty an injury inflicts. It deserves compensation just as much as any other harm the drunk driver did to the victim’s life.
How an Experienced Hempstead Drunk Driving Injury Lawyer Can Help
Every drunk driving accident inflicts its own unique, tragic constellation of costs. In the aftermath, victims and their families deserve experienced, compassionate legal representation that ensures they recover the maximum compensation available under New York law.
What a lawyer might do for a client injured by a Hempstead drunk driver can vary from case-to-case. However, in general, the services an experienced drunk driving accident injury attorney provides can include the following:
Identifying Liable Parties
In every Hempstead drunk driving accident that leaves a victim injured, at least one person is to blame. Most often, at a minimum, that person is the drunk driver who made the reckless decision to get behind the wheel after consuming alcohol.
Many Hempstead drunk driving accident victims do not realize, however, that in many crashes, people and corporate entities other than the drunk driver may also share some of the legal liability. That is important because, in our experience, oftentimes the victim’s own no fault insurance, combined with the drunk driver’s liability insurance, does not begin to cover the full cost of the victim’s injuries and losses. Finding other parties with liability can increase a victim’s chances of a full financial recovery for drunk driving injuries.
Parties who may share liability for a Hempstead drunk driver’s actions can include:
- An employer of a drunk driver who crashes a vehicle while working. In New York, employers generally have to answer for the wrongful actions of their employees, especially if they knew or had reason to know an employee had a drinking problem and let the employee drive a company vehicle anyway.
- A bar or restaurant that served the drunk driver, if the drunk driver was under 21 or visibly intoxicated at the time alcohol was served.
- Social hosts who knowingly allowed a drunk driver under age 21 to consume alcohol at their home or a party.
- Anyone else whose dangerous decisions and actions led to the accident, even people or companies who had nothing to do with the driver getting drunk. If a drunk driver crashes, in part, because a defective tire on the driver’s car blew out, for example, then the tire manufacturer could share liability for the accident.
Experienced lawyers make sure to look at Hempstead drunk driving accidents from every angle, to give their clients every opportunity to hold wrongdoers accountable for their injuries.
We listed the costs of a drunk driving accident above. Many Hempstead drunk driving crash victims may not realize the full scope of those costs, and even if they do, investigating and calculating them can represent a significant challenge for someone in the midst of recovering from a serious injury. Skilled Hempstead drunk driving accident injury lawyers know the ins-and-outs of tallying up all of the costs of a victim’s injury, so that the victim can seek the appropriate damages when the time comes to take legal action.
Managing the Victim’s Role in a Prosecution
District attorneys sometimes call on Hempstead drunk driving accident victims to play a role as witnesses in the prosecution of a drunk driver. Skilled Hempstead drunk driving accident attorneys who represent those clients help to manage that client’s participation in the criminal process, to ensure that the victims’ rights to compensation stay protected while they also do their part to see criminal justice done.
Negotiating and Litigating
Finally, of course, lawyers for Hempstead drunk driving accident victims negotiate with defense lawyers and insurance companies to achieve a fair and reasonable settlement of the victims’ legal claims for damages. Most of the time, that is how cases get resolved. Sometimes, however, the lawyer may also take a client’s case to court to make the case for damages to a judge and jury. Hempstead drunk driving accident victims need and deserve an attorney who is equally comfortable pressing their cases in or out of court.
Find an Experienced Hempstead Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer to Help You
Drunk drivers in Hempstead and throughout Nassau County have no excuse for their reckless actions. Neither to others who enable a drunk driver’s criminally harmful conduct. Victims of a Hempstead drunk driver deserve compensation for the senseless harm the driver does to their lives.
To get that compensation, however, they must act quickly. Hempstead drunk driving crash victims have limited time to take legal action for money damages. In virtually all circumstances, their best course of action is to seek the advice of a skilled, experienced Hempstead drunk driving accident injury lawyer as soon as possible after the crash. Hiring a lawyer virtually always costs the victims nothing. The initial consultation is free, and drunk driving accident injury lawyers work on contingency, which means they only get paid if their client gets paid.
To learn more about your legal rights to receive compensation after a Hempstead drunk driving accident injury disrupts your life, contact a skilled Hempstead car accident injury lawyer today.