Manhattan Drunk Driving Accidents

Residents and visitors alike testify that Manhattan is one of the best places in the country to eat, drink, and be merry. The abundance of bars, pubs, restaurants, nightclubs, and other establishments ensure that spirits flow when people are out and about in the city. Many choose to take the subway, hail a cab, or summon a ride from Uber, Lyft, or another rideshare company to get around in the city or get home after enjoying drinks.

However, far too many people still choose to drive after drinking alcohol, even though the dangers of drinking and driving are well-known. The New York Department of Motor Vehicles estimates that 20 percent of all traffic fatalities, including those in Manhattan, involve alcohol.

If you have suffered injuries in a Manhattan drunk driving accident, New York law permits you to seek compensation for damages related to your injuries. Until you have a chance to consult a Manhattan drunk driving accident attorney, this guide provides more information about drunk driving accidents in Manhattan, including recent examples in the news, third party liability in Manhattan drunk driving accidents, New York no-fault insurance as it relates to drunk driving accidents, and seeking compensation for damages related to a Manhattan drunk driving accident.

Manhattan Drunk Driving Accidents in the News

Whether you are driving, walking, or cycling around Manhattan, you risk sustaining injuries from a drunk driver. A quick internet search, a scan of the morning newspaper, or news from local television and radio stations share many instances of drunk driving accidents and injuries in Manhattan.

Recent examples of Manhattan drunk driving accidents in the news do not include many severe injuries and few deaths—perhaps because of the heavy reliance on public transportation, taxi services, and rideshare services in Manhattan. However, you cannot be complacent as a driver, pedestrian, motorcyclist, or cyclist when traveling around the city. Drunk drivers do get behind the wheel, and they do put others at risk for an accident, injury, and sometimes death.

Suing Establishments and Social Hosts Who Serve Drunk Drivers

Many states have dram shop laws that allow those who fall victim to a drunk driver to take legal action against the bar, restaurant, nightclub, or another establishment that served alcohol to the driver. In some states, social hosts who throw a party and provide alcohol also open themselves to liability if a guest gets drunk, gets behind the wheel, and causes an accident. New York’s dram shop laws only deal with minors who consume alcohol. An alcohol vendor or social host typically is not liable for damages when they serve adults.

No-Fault Insurance Provides Initial Financial Relief After Many Manhattan Drunk Driving Accidents

New York is one of about a dozen states with a no-fault insurance system. Those who register a vehicle must purchase an insurance policy that includes a wide range of coverage, including a minimum of $50,000 personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. PIP coverage provides benefits to those who suffer injuries in an accident without regard to who caused the accident.

This does not mean you cannot seek damages from a drunk driver, but it provides immediate relief, especially in the case of severe injuries. Insurance claims and drunk driving accident lawsuits may take time before an accident victim receives any money for their injuries.

PIP insurance provides the following benefits up to your policy limit:

  • Compensation for reasonable and necessary medical treatment costs related to a Manhattan drunk driving accident
  • Compensation for 80 percent of lost income for those who miss work due to an accident, injury, and hospitalization, up to a maximum of $2,000 per month
  • Compensation for additional expenses related to suffering injuries such as household help and transportation costs up to $25 per day

PIP insurance typically covers minor injuries that heal completely and require little time away from work. More severe drunk driving accident injuries easily meet or exceed the minimum $50,000 policy limit. In these cases, accident victims need to consult a Manhattan drunk driving accident lawyer as soon as possible to learn about their best options for recovering additional compensation.

Your New York PIP coverage extends to you if you suffer injuries from a drunk driver that you sustained as a pedestrian or while riding a bicycle. It also extends to anyone in your vehicle. However, if you have sustained injuries in a Manhattan drunk driving accident while riding a motorcycle, moped, scooter, your PIP coverage does not apply. In these cases, you do not need to exhaust your insurance policy before filing a claim with the drunk driver’s insurance carrier under their bodily injury liability coverage.

Seeking Compensation for Damages Beyond PIP Coverage

After suffering injuries in a Manhattan drunk driving accident, it’s common for accident victims to exhaust all insurance options before bringing a lawsuit against the drunk driver who caused the accident. Depending on your situation, you might have to exhaust your PIP insurance before other options. Once you exceed your PIP coverage or if you do not have PIP coverage, you can step outside New York’s no-fault insurance system to seek compensation for losses incurred due to your Manhattan drunk driving accident injuries.

Claimants and plaintiffs can receive compensation for various losses, including:

Medical Expenses

After a serious Manhattan drunk driving accident, those who suffer injuries immediately start to accumulate medical expenses. First, many accident victims need an ambulance ride to the nearest emergency department to get checked out by a physician at the very least. In the most severe cases, accident victims need immediate treatment that could include surgery. With or without surgery, doctors typically need to order diagnostic scans and lab tests to learn about the extent of a person’s injuries.

Surgery has additional costs that include the entire surgical team, supplies, anesthesia, and follow-up visits. Depending on the type of injury someone suffers, hospitalization and/or continued treatment might be necessary.

Insurance companies and courts also include rehabilitation costs as part of reasonable medical expenses. Depending on the extent of accident injuries, patients might need a range of specialized treatments to help them after an accident.

Examples of specialists who commonly help accident victims during their rehabilitation and recovery include:

  • Physical therapists help patients build lost muscle mass, regain range of motion, and increase mobility after accident injuries.
  • Occupational therapists help patients who suffered a permanent injury learn new ways of performing daily tasks and help those with severe injuries relearn the elements of their daily routine. For example, patients need to learn or relearn how to brush their teeth, comb their hair, and get dressed.
  • Speech and language pathologists are typically a part of rehabilitation when an accident victim suffers a traumatic brain injury. Many brain injuries leave patients struggling with speaking, understanding, writing, and reading. Speech and language specialists help accident victims communicate or learn new ways to communicate with others.
  • Psychologists and other mental health professionals help accident victims cope with the emotional trauma and stress of being involved in a car accident, suffering severe injuries, and dealing with permanent injuries. Mental health services are especially common for those who must stay in a wheelchair or have lost a limb during an accident.

Long-term Nursing Care

Drunk driving accident victims who survive the trauma of an accident but suffer permanent injuries possibly face spending the rest of their life in a nursing care facility or receive long-term nursing care in their home. Those who suffer severe brain injuries or spinal cord injuries are examples of people who sometimes need ongoing assistance indefinitely. Auto insurance and health insurance do not cover the expense of long-term care unless someone has purchased a special nursing home policy. The high cost of living in a long-term facility can bankrupt some families, making it necessary to seek compensation for injuries from the drunk driver.

Current and Future Lost Income

Sustaining injuries in a traffic accident naturally involves missing some work. Depending on the situation, a drunk driving accident victim might miss days, weeks, or months of work due to injury, hospitalization, and recovery. As mentioned above, PIP insurance covers a portion of lost wages, and some qualify for short-term disability. In the best-case scenario, an accident victim gets disability payments, which is typically about two-thirds of their normal wage, and their PIP insurance makes up the difference, so they do not suffer income loss while they are recovering from injuries.

Unfortunately, it does not always work this way, especially for those who suffer injuries and whom a PIP policy doesn’t cover. Drunk driving accident victims and their families sometimes experience a large gap in household income in the aftermath of injuries. After severe injuries, some accident victims cannot return to work because of permanent injuries. In these situations, accident victims receive compensation for future lost wages, sometimes referred to as lost earning capacity.

Household Replacement Services

Before suffering injuries in a Manhattan drunk driving accident, victims contributed to maintaining their home in various ways. Severe injuries often impact the extent to which someone can perform household tasks. In the case of permanent injuries, an accident victim might permanently lose the ability to perform some tasks. Families sometimes need to hire outside help to replace the labor the accident victim provided.

Personal injury attorney Andrew Finkelstein managing partner of Jacoby and Meyers LLP

Andrew G. Finkelstein, Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer

Examples include:

  • Maid or housekeeping service
  • Laundry service
  • Snow removal service
  • Meal delivery service or grocery delivery service
  • Childcare service
  • Driver and/or personal assistant

Accident victims only receive compensation for additional services they must rely upon after an accident. They cannot receive compensation for the services they were already using.

Drunk driving accidents lead to severe and sometimes life-threatening injuries. The economic burden adds layers of stress over and above the physical pain of injury and recovery. If you have suffered injuries in a Manhattan drunk driving accident, contact an attorney who can help you get the compensation you deserve for losses related to your injuries.