Bronx Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer
Drunk drivers pose a deadly hazard on the road—a fact that every car accident lawyer knows all too well. Not only do drunk driving accidents claim the lives of close to 11,000 people per year, but also such accidents leave many others suffering from serious injuries and with lives altered forever by the impacts of those accidents.
If you suffered serious injuries in a drunk driving accident in the Bronx, you may need legal help to seek compensation for the full cost of your injuries. Contact our Bronx personal injury lawyers at Jacoby & Meyers, LLP, today for a free case evaluation.
How Alcohol Causes Accidents
Drunk driving accidents often involve more severe injuries than accidents between sober drivers. Alcohol can impair drivers in ways that both increase the risk of accidents and make those accidents more severe when they do occur.
- Alcohol slows reaction time. In an accident, every second counts. Unfortunately, drinking and driving can substantially slow reaction time, making it take longer for drivers to respond to potentially dangerous situations on the road. Not only does this make it more likely that a drunk driver will slam into another vehicle that turns unexpectedly, it can mean that if a hazard on the road sends the car spinning out of control, the driver cannot react in time to decrease the severity of the accident.
- Alcohol impairs motor control. Controlling a vehicle requires substantial motor skills. When under the influence of alcohol, drivers may lack the motor skills needed to safely control the vehicle. In an accident, that means driver may be unable to avoid a collision or decrease accident severity.
- Alcohol interferes with concentration. In a single second, at seventy miles per hour, a car can travel a third of the length of a football field. Lack of concentration can make it difficult for drivers to respond to events on the road. Drunk drivers may also struggle to keep their attention on the accident, causing them to react inappropriately or lose focus.
- Alcohol can prevent rational decision-making. In an accident, both drivers must think and respond quickly and rationally. Not only does this help prevent accidents, it can significantly decrease accident severity. For example, a rational, sober driver might choose to drive onto the shoulder of the road if a car suddenly pulls over in front of him or her. A drunk driver, on the other hand, might plow straight into that driver—or, in a worst-case scenario, accidentally slam on the gas pedal instead of the brake. Drunk drivers may also make poor driving-related decisions, like excess speeding or ignoring traffic signals.
Increased Injuries in Alcohol-Related Crashes
In alcohol-related crashes, many people suffer worse injuries than in accidents that don’t involve alcohol. The drunk driver may fail to even try to avoid an accident, leading to increased rates of speed. At higher rates of speed, cars strike with a greater degree of force, which can, in turn, cause more severe injuries. Thats when its between two cars not to mention the severity of drunk driving motorcycle accidents and truck accidents.
Drunk drivers may also fail to rationalize the need to turn away from another vehicle or to attempt to avoid an accident, which may leave occupants of the second vehicle suffering from more serious injuries than if the drunk driver had attempted to avoid the accident.
- Spinal cord injuries. Spinal cord injuries can cause anything from a decrease in overall mobility to full paralysis below the site of the injury.
- Traumatic brain injuries. Symptoms of a traumatic brain injury can impact every area of a patient’s life, from his ability to regulate his emotions to focus, concentration, and memory.
- Amputation. Following an amputation, patients will need substantial occupational therapy to relearn how to perform many common tasks and activities.
- Burns. If a car catches on fire following an accident, it can cause serious burns that lead to long-term scarring and extreme pain.
- Chest contusions. Chest contusions often cause more serious injuries than people realize at the time of the accident. Hours later, the victim may experience swelling, pain, and difficulty breathing.
- Broken bones. In many cases, broken bones require a long time to repair and can cause lifelong difficulties, including pain or loss of mobility.
- Severe cuts and lacerations. Serious cuts and lacerations can cause blood loss as well as substantial scarring.
Filing a Personal Injury Claim After a Drunk Driving Accident
Following a drunk driving accident, many people turn to a personal injury claim against the responsible driver’s insurance company to help provide the finances needed to pay medical bills. In New York, your personal injury protection insurance will cover the first expenses related to your accident, up to around $50,000 of coverage depending on your policy. However, if your injuries in a drunk driving accident exceed the amount offered by the policy, a personal injury claim can help you get the funds you need.
Does the other driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC) impact the compensation I can receive in a personal injury claim after a drunk driving accident?
The other driver’s blood alcohol content will not change the compensation you can receive for injuries sustained in a drunk driving accident. While drunk drivers with a high BAC may face additional criminal penalties following an accident, including fines and fees, license suspension, and, in some cases, jail time, that will not impact the compensation you can receive after a drunk driving accident. Drunk drivers, however, may cause more damage to others involved in accidents due to their decreased motor control, reaction time, and decision-making abilities.
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How much compensation should I expect after a drunk driving accident?
Just as in any other type of car accident, after a drunk driving accident, the insurance company that covers the drunk driver will provide compensation based on your expenses and the maximum coverage of the policy. Because New York has a no-fault law—that is, drivers must carry personal injury protection insurance that will cover the first percentage of their medical bills and missed time at work—the insurance company will base the compensation you receive on the amount that exceeds the coverage of your personal injury protection policy.
Typically, compensation includes:
- Medical expenses. After a drunk driving accident, you may have substantial immediate medical expenses as well as significant ongoing medical expenses, depending on the extent of your injuries. Your claim should include a record of all your medical expenses, beginning with ambulance transport or an emergency room or urgent care visit at the time of the accident and ending with anticipated future ongoing expenses. Some patients, for example, may need ongoing physical or occupational therapy for years after their accidents. You should also include the cost of durable medical equipment, home modifications, and home health care in your claim.
- Lost time at work. Not only do your injuries cause substantial expenses in the form of medical bills, but they may also prevent you from paying your other bills. Lost time at work often adds up fast, especially if you do not have a large amount of sick leave saved up. When your combined medical bills and lost wages exceed the amount of your personal injury protection insurance, however, you can include those amounts as part of your claim.
- Lost earning potential. In addition to missing time at work, some types of accidents can permanently prevent you from returning to your former profession. A traumatic brain injury, for example, may cause emotional regulation issues that prevent you from working in a customer service position or leave you struggling to handle work responsibilities that require high focus and concentration. Including lost earning potential as part of your claim after a drunk driving accident can give you the funds you need to pursue further education or certifications, allowing you to embark on a new profession.
- Pain and suffering. Drunk driving accidents cause more than physical pain and suffering. If you face scarring or severe physical limitations after your accident, it can impact you socially and emotionally. Many types of injuries also prevent you from attending events you really wanted to attend or engaging in activities that have always been part of your life; for example, if you have spinal cord damage, it might prevent you from engaging in athletic pursuits. Talking with an attorney can help you better quantify that pain and suffering and how it has impacted your life after the accident.
Do I have to have an attorney to file a personal injury claim after a drunk driving accident?
After a drunk driving accident, you do not have to have an attorney to file a claim for compensation. In many cases, your insurance company will help you submit the claim to the other driver’s insurance company. You can also deal with the other driver’s insurance company directly. However, having an attorney on your side, especially if you have serious injuries after a drunk driving accident, can offer many advantages. Consider:
- Insurance companies do not always offer the maximum compensation after an accident. At Jacoby & Meyers, LLP, we have seen many cases of the insurance company issuing a low settlement offer immediately after the accident. The insurance company may want to minimize financial responsibility, even when the drunk driver the company covers caused serious injuries in an accident. Most of the time, insurance companies will not issue an offer for maximum compensation immediately, even if you deserve it based on the extent of your injuries. In some cases, simply having a lawyer file your claim can increase the compensation offered.
- Negotiation takes time and effort. When you start the personal injury claims process, you will start by submitting a package that includes all of your expenses and your request for compensation. The insurance company can accept that offer and issue a settlement, or it can come back with an offer of its own. Often, arriving at a compromise involves a great deal of negotiation, all of which takes time away from your other activities. When you hire an attorney, he or she can take over those tasks for you, which means you can focus on your recovery.
- An attorney can help gather evidence that supports your claim. In some cases, you may need to bring in expert witnesses or provide evidence to support your claim and show who caused your accident. An attorney can help seek out that evidence, often opening doors that might not open for you: collecting security footage from local businesses or accessing traffic cameras that might have captured the accident, for example.
- An attorney can help you better understand exactly what compensation you deserve and from whom after a drunk driving accident. Many people do not realize what funds they really deserve after a drunk driving accident, especially if outside factors contributed to the accident. By working with an attorney, you can get a better idea of exactly how much compensation you deserve and what responsible parties need to contribute to that payment.
Who has to pay damages after a drunk driving accident?
Obviously, the drunk driver who caused your accident bears primary responsibility for your injuries. In a drunk driving accident, however, you may also want to seek compensation from other sources who contributed to the accident. Consider:
- Did the drunk driver drink at a bar or restaurant? Bartenders and servers should pay careful attention to the inebriation level of their customers, especially if they know those customers plan to drive. If the bar or restaurant over-serves a driver, that facility may bear some responsibility for injuries that occur after a drunk driving accident.
- Did other factors contribute to the accident? Mechanical failures, for example, could leave responsibility with either the manufacturer or a mechanic who poorly repaired the vehicle. Talking with an attorney can help you better determine what other factors could have contributed to your accident and how those factors may impact the compensation you receive.
Alcohol-Related Reported Injury Crashes in Bronx, NYSource: https://www.itsmr.org
Bronx Drunk Driving Accident FAQ
Drunk driving accidents take a heavy toll on New Yorkers every year, including right here in the Bronx. Victims of these senseless, preventable accidents and families of those killed in them often have important, pressing questions about their legal rights. In this blog post, we answer some of the most frequently asked of those questions. If you want to know more about your rights after a Bronx drunk driver causes harm to you or a loved one, contact our experienced Bronx drunk driving accident injury attorneys today.
I got hurt in a drunk driving crash. Can I sue?
Chances are good that you can, so long as you were not the drunk driver.
Drunk driving is illegal in New York. A person who gets behind the wheel while impaired by alcohol (or any other substance) recklessly endangers the lives of everyone on the road. That drunk driver (and the driver’s auto insurance company) likely has a legal liability to you for any injuries and losses you suffered in the crash.
Am I limited to suing the drunk driver?
Not necessarily. You may have the right to take legal action against multiple parties after a Bronx drunk driving accident. Experienced Bronx drunk driving accident injury attorneys know that any number of individuals or corporate entities could owe you money damages for the harm you suffered. The drunk driver (and the driver’s insurer) is usually one of those.
Others can include:
- The drunk driver’s employer, if the drunk driver crashed a work vehicle while on the job. Employers generally have legal liability for the actions of their employees within the scope of their employment. Employers can also face liability for their own careless actions, such as when they fail to train employees adequately, or allow an employee with a known substance-abuse problem to drive a work vehicle.
- Anyone who sold alcohol to the drunk driver unlawfully, which under New York State’s dram shop laws means selling to someone who is under 21 or visibly intoxicated.
- Anyone who furnished (rather than sold) alcohol to the drunk driver if the drunk driver is under 21.
- Someone else whose dangerous decisions or actions contributed to the drunk driving accident that injured you (even people whose actions had nothing to do with the drunk driver).
Every Bronx drunk driving crash is different, of course, so there is no guarantee that all, or any, of the parties above will have liability for your drunk driving crash injuries. The best way to find out if you have the right to sue for your injuries and losses is to speak with an experienced NYC drunk driving accident attorney today.
How much can I sue for?
Like we said, every case is different. The amount of money a victim might have the right to recover in a lawsuit against anyone legally liable for Bronx drunk driving crash injuries can vary widely from one accident to the next.
As a general matter, Bronx drunk driving accident victims have the right to seek compensation for:
- Medical expenses resulting from treating the injuries suffered in the crash, including the cost of ambulance rides, hospitalization, doctor visits, therapy, medicine, and medical equipment.
- Other out-of-pocket expenses stemming from the crash and resulting injuries, such as the cost of hiring someone to help you with day-to-day tasks while you recover.
- Lost wages and future earnings resulting from missing work while recovering from crash injuries, and from having a reduced income because of long-term disabilities or impairments caused by crash injuries;
- Pain, suffering, and diminished quality of life caused by the crash and injuries, including physical discomfort, emotional anguish, and difficulty enjoying life and important relationships.
- In some cases, punitive damages to punish the party who has legal liability to you for that party’s extremely harmful, wrongful conduct.
The amount recoverable for each of these categories depends heavily on the nature and extent of a victim’s injuries and prospects for making a full recovery. Some accident victims may have the right to sue for tens of thousands of dollars, others may have claims that run into the millions. An experienced Bronx drunk driving accident lawyer cannot predict how much your accident is worth until the lawyer understands the facts and circumstances of the crash that injured you.
Is the amount I sue for the amount I will get?
The amount of money you have the legal right to receive, and the amount of money you can actually recover for your Bronx drunk driving accident injuries, can vary from one another based on several factors, including:
- The financial resources of the parties with legal liability. It is not always fair, but the amount of money you might recover depends in part on who owes it to you. If your injuries resulted from the actions of a drunk driver who carries only the minimum auto insurance, you might not recover as much money as if that driver crashed a work vehicle owned by a huge, highly insured business.
- The number of parties who have legal liability to you for damages. Broadly speaking, the more parties with liability, the better your odds of recovering all of the money you deserve.
- The degree of dispute. Cut-and-dried drunk driving claims in which legal liability and the amount of your damages are not in dispute have a better chance of achieving top-dollar than cases where the parties disagree over those questions.
- Your willingness and ability to fight. This is not always the case, but oftentimes a victim who has the wherewithal to stay patient and let the legal process play-out has a better chance of obtaining full compensation than one who is in a hurry to obtain compensation.
Working with an experienced Bronx drunk driving crash injury attorney is the most reliable way to achieve maximum compensation for your injuries and losses.
The police never charged the drunk driver in my crash. Does that matter?
It might, but it is not a reason to skip speaking with a lawyer about your rights.
Here is what we can tell you: your legal rights as a victim of a drunk driver exist separate and apart from any criminal charges the drunk driver might face. Any lawsuit you might file seeking damages in a Bronx drunk driving accident would happen in a separate court, in a separate legal process, from any criminal prosecution of the driver.
Not surprisingly, it can help your lawyer make your case if the driver gets convicted of drunk driving, since that conviction could help to prove the driver’s legal liability for the harm the crashed caused you. Likewise, if the driver convinces the prosecutor, a judge, or a jury, that he was not intoxicated, then that might, sometimes, make your case a little harder to prove. Harder, maybe, but definitely not impossible.
Always speak with our experienced Bronx drunk driving attorneys after a crash injures you or a loved one. Regardless of what decisions law enforcement makes in charging the drunk driver, you still likely have the right to compensation.
I was the drunk driver’s passenger. What rights do I have?
You likely have the same right to compensation as any other crash victim. Speak with our experienced attorneys to learn more.
People sometimes worry that because they made the unfortunate decision to get into a car with a drunk driver that they “deserve” the injuries and losses they suffered in the crash. That is not so. No one deserves to have a drunk driver harm them.
In some cases, the person injured as a drunk driver’s passenger may also have had too much to drink. Those people may think they deserve some of the blame for not stopping the driver. That is usually not the case, either. Drinking impairs your judgment, but that does not necessarily make you responsible for a drunk driver’s tragic decision to get behind the wheel.
Before you decide that you do not deserve compensation for the injuries you suffered in a drunk driving crash, always contact an experienced Bronx drunk driving accident lawyer to discuss your rights. It may surprise you to learn that you deserve damages just like anyone else.
What should I do after a Bronx drunk driving crash?
First, get the medical attention you need immediately. Call 911, and when EMTs arrive, let them check you over. If they recommend you take an ambulance ride to the hospital, then do it. If they give you the okay, then follow up with your regular doctor or an urgent care center within 24 hours. Always do this.
Do not assume that the EMTs gave you enough of an examination to give you peace of mind that you walked away from the accident without an injury. An EMT’s job is to check you for obvious, life-threatening conditions that require immediate care. EMTs perform an amazing service, but they do not always have the tools or expertise to spot some hidden crash injuries that take awhile to show symptoms.
That is why you need to follow up with a medical doctor who can perform a more complete examination and spot any warning signs an EMT might frequently miss. Not only does seeking this care protect your health, it also generates important medical records that could help prove your lawsuit for damages later on.
Next, be sure the police respond to the scene of the crash, and that they know you suspect someone drove drunk. This will help to ensure the police take the appropriate actions to test that driver right away for intoxication or impairment. You have a strong interest in making sure the police do those tests, because they could help you prove a case for damages.
Finally, call an experienced Bronx car accident injury lawyer right away. There is no such thing as too soon to call a lawyer for help navigating the aftermath of a drunk driving crash. The sooner you have an attorney working for you, the better the attorney’s chances of collecting and preserving critical evidence, of identifying and speaking with key witnesses, and of guiding your case to a result that gets you as much money as possible for your injuries and losses.
Can’t I just settle with the driver quickly?
That would be a big mistake.
Sometimes, especially in less-severe crashes, drunk drivers try to “make things right” with accident victims on-the-spot, to avoid legal responsibility for the accident. Agreeing to any sort of arrangement like that could violate the law, and would, at the very least, jeopardize your rights to the compensation you deserve.
Other times, victims of drunk driving accidents may hear directly from the drunk driver’s auto insurance company. The insurance representative will sound friendly enough, and may even offer a settlement payment to compensate the victim. Never agree to this payment. The only reason an insurance company has to reach out directly to a victim is to try to minimize its own financial liability for a crash. Without fail, any offer an insurance company makes to a victim directly is for far less money than the crash victim deserves. Say no to any caller who makes that kind of offer, and refer the caller to your attorney instead.
How much will a lawyer cost me?
Hiring an experienced, knowledgeable Bronx drunk driving accident injury attorney costs nothing up-front. Lawyers for drunk driving crash victims work on contingency. That means they do not bill their clients by the hour and do not charge up-front payments. Instead, they agree with the client that they will receive a percentage of whatever money they recover for the client through their efforts. This arrangement makes lawyers affordable for victims, and gives them the same basic goal: to get the most money possible for the client’s injuries and losses.
If a Bronx-area drunk driving accident left you or a loved one badly injured, get legal help right away to protect your rights. Contact the experienced Bronx drunk driving accident injury lawyers at Jacoby & Meyers, LLP, today for a free, confidential, no-obligation case evaluation.
When You Need an Attorney After a Bronx Drunk Driving Accident, Call Us
If you suffered serious injuries in a Bronx drunk driving accident, you may need an attorney to help you seek compensation. Contact Jacoby & Meyers, LLP, today at (718) 294-0813 or use our online contact form to contact us.
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