New York Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer
If you were in an accident with a drunk driver, New York law permits you to sue the driver for compensation related to damages from any injuries you suffer. New York Drunk Driving Accident Attorneys at At Jacoby & Meyers, LLP understand the gravity of dealing with a severe drunk driving accident and the challenges your injury poses to you and your family. We want to help you hold the driver accountable who caused you harm. Contact one of our New York drunk driving accident lawyers to discuss the details of your accident and injuries during a free case evaluation.
Those who drink and drive aren’t only breaking the law, but they’re also putting other motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians at risk for injury or fatality if they cause a drunk driving accident. Severe injuries can devastate victims and their families, adding layers of emotional stress and financial burden on top of the physical pain of injury and healing. Unfortunately, New York has a high fatality rate for drunk driving accidents.
In fact, the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles estimates 20 percent of all traffic fatalities involve alcohol. Drunk driving is so rampant in New York, especially during certain times of the year, the New York Police Department (NYPD) has partnered with rideshare and taxi companies to offer deep discounts for those who choose to hitch a ride instead of getting behind the wheel.
Jacoby & Meyers, LLP’s Results in Traffic Accident Cases
The skilled legal team at Jacoby & Meyers, LLP, has more than four decades of experience negotiating, settling, and litigating for accident injury victims, including those who have sustained injuries in drunk driving accidents. The firm’s commitment to professional excellence and passion for client advocacy has led to the recovery of tens of millions of dollars in damages for their injured clients.
Some recent examples of case results in traffic accident cases include:
- $5,000,000 for a client who sustained injuries in a multi-vehicle collision
- $1,272,000 for a client involved in a Bronx auto accident
- $740,000 for a client after a crash on the Brooklyn Bridge
- $525,000 when a client suffered injuries after a Brooklyn driver ran a red light and caused an accident
- $400,000 for a client who was injured when another motorist ran a red light
- $247,000 for a client who suffered injuries when another driver was going too fast for conditions and caused a crash
- $100,000 for a client who suffered injuries in a head-on collision
These examples cannot guarantee results for your unique case, but serve to provide an example of what might be possible. Each case has factors that can detract from or add to the value of a claim. The seasoned drunk driving lawyers at Jacoby & Meyers, LLP, can investigate the details of your drunk driving accident to uncover all relevant facts that can help support your case. We are committed to pursuing the best possible outcome for your case.
Injuries From New York Drunk Driving Accidents
Fortunately, many who experience a drunk driving accident don’t suffer severe injuries. The accident might have been a minor crash that didn’t occur at high speeds. When accident injury victims suffer minor injuries, they can likely recover medical expenses and lost wages from New York’s mandatory personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. In other cases, victims might suffer severe, debilitating, catastrophic, or even fatal injuries. Severe injuries from a New York drunk driving accident require the expertise of a qualified personal injury attorney.
Accident injuries we commonly encounter at Jacoby & Meyers, LLP, include:
- Fractures. Broken bones aren’t always serious injuries. Yet, when a drunk driving accident occurs at high speeds, drivers and occupants risk multiple fractures and broken bones that might require one or more corrective surgeries and cause lifelong struggles.
- Head injuries.A person’s head moves upon impact, but the extent of the movement determines injuries. If someone hits their head on the windshield or seat in front of them, they risk a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Even force alone can cause a person’s brain to shift inside their skull. Those who suffer a severe TBI face permanent brain damage that can cause lifelong struggles with memory, cognitive skills, body function, and motor functions. TBI victims also might have trouble controlling or dealing with emotions, or suffer personality changes and difficulty with their senses.
- Neck injuries. The same impact that leads to a TBI can also lead to neck injuries. Whiplash, which is soft tissue damage in the neck, remains the most common car accident injury, but victims in a drunk driving accident might also suffer from fractured neck vertebrae or herniated discs in their neck. Minor whiplash heals within a few months on its own, but more serious cases can result in chronic pain and residual headaches or migraines, as well as neck and shoulder pain.
- Back injuries. The human body moves into many unnatural positions during the impact of a drunk driving accident. Exact movements depend on the type of accident, the presence of safety devices, and the speed at which impact happened. This body movement might result in excruciatingly painful back injuries such as fractured, bulged, and slipped vertebrae and discs. Back injury victims typically suffer chronic pain and might need one or more corrective surgeries. Yet, even with surgery, many back injury victims suffer lifelong pain and discomfort related to their injury.
- Spinal cord injuries. Serious back injuries can go beyond simple spinal column issues and result in a spinal cord injury. Mild spinal cord injuries might cause temporary paralysis in some or all of the body, but once the injury heals, victims will regain function. Severe accidents might lead to catastrophic spinal cord injuries, causing permanent full or partial paralysis. The location of paralysis and extent of functional loss depends on the exact location of the injury along the spine. A general rule of thumb is that the closer the injury occurs to the brain, the more the loss of function a spinal cord injury victim suffers. Injuries to the spinal cord near the neck typically result in full-body paralysis, known as tetraplegia. Spinal cord injuries are among the most costly of all accident injuries because victims face years of medical treatment, physical therapy, nursing care, and assistive devices like wheelchairs.
- Amputation. Amputations don’t happen frequently, but they can and do occur as a result of severe drunk driving accidents. High impact collisions put drivers and occupants at risk for having one or more limbs getting crushed or pinned during impact. When limbs get crushed, they don’t receive blood from the rest of the body. Doctors always do their best to save limbs and restore blood flow, but when they cannot, they must amputate to save a person’s life. Those who suffer amputation must not only deal with the physical pain of loss, recovery, and stump pain, but many must also cope with the emotional trauma of losing a limb and learning new ways to navigate their daily routine. Some amputees even suffer pains where their lost limb used to be, known as phantom limb pain.
New York Dram Shop Law
The presence of alcohol in a traffic accident sometimes makes it easier to determine liability in a drunk driving accident. It’s difficult to argue a driver isn’t negligent when he or she is impaired past the legal limit. Yet, New York, like many other states, has dram shop laws that might make a third party partially or wholly liable for an accident. New York’s dram shop laws apply to restaurants, bars, and other establishments, including social hosts who serve alcohol. If another party serves alcohol to a minor under age 21 and he or she causes an accident, the party can be held liable for the accident under New York Law.
In other situations where a business or social host served someone alcohol, New York law states that any person who suffers injury as a result of an intoxicated person has the right to sue “any person, who shall, by unlawful selling to or unlawfully assisting in procuring liquor for such intoxicated person.” Ultimately, the law reveals that those who have contributed to someone’s intoxication might be liable for damages from an accident, including exemplary, or punitive, damages.
Seeking Damages After a New York Drunk Driving Accident
If you choose to bring a personal injury lawsuit against a drunk driver, or third party who contributed to a driver’s intoxication, you might recover compensatory and exemplary damages under New York law. Exemplary damages are meant to punish the defendant when extreme negligence caused an accident and injury. Yet, exemplary damages aren’t a sure thing; courts reserve them for extreme cases. In most scenarios, you can expect that the compensation you might receive will be for economic and non-economic losses related to the drunk driving accident and your injuries.
Some of the most frequently awarded compensatory damages received in a settlement or verdict in favor of the plaintiff include compensation for:
- Medical treatment including ambulance ride, emergency response teams, emergency department visit, hospitalization, surgery, radiology, follow-up care, and medication
- Future medical treatment when a drunk driver causes a severe injury requiring extensive recovery, or a catastrophic injury resulting in a permanent disability or condition requiring indefinite medical treatment and long-term health care
- Rehabilitation including visits with one or more specialists to help drunk driving accident victims recover lost functions or learn new ways to perform daily tasks
- Assistive devices including wheelchairs, crutches, canes, walkers, prosthetic limbs, and special technology to help victims communicate
- Lost wages as a consequence of missing work due to accident, injury, treatment, and recovery
- Lost earning capacity when a drunk driving accident results in a catastrophic injury preventing an injured victim from returning to their job or seeking gainful employment in the future
- Physical pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Loss of quality of life
- Loss of consortium with a spouse
- Scarring and disfigurement
If you have lost a loved one as a result of a drunk driving accident, you might also be able to recover some of the above damages. New York law permits eligible family members to take legal action against a drunk driver, depending on their relationship with the deceased. Other losses surviving family members might receive include funeral expenses, burial or cremation costs, and non-economic losses specific to the death of a loved one such as loss of companionship, or loss of parental guidance and support.
New York Drunk Driving Accident FAQ
Accidents caused by alcohol-impaired drivers are a serious problem. Nationwide, more than 10,000 people died at the hands of drunk drivers in one recent year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which accounts for roughly 28 percent of all traffic fatalities. In New York state, 33 percent of all fatal vehicle accidents involve a drunk driver, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
As attorneys with expertise in drunk driving accident cases, many injured people and their loved ones ask questions of us every day about drunk driving accidents. Below, we present answers to their most frequently asked questions.
New York Drunk Driving Accident FAQ
If you’re in a collision or a pedestrian accident and you suspect the driver is impaired by alcohol, follow the steps below. If you were seriously injured, skip to step six.
- First, always, put your health and safety first. If you or others involved in the accident suffered injuries, stay on the scene and call 911. It’s against New York state law to leave the scene of an accident that resulted in injuries or death until the responding police officers say you are free to leave, unless EMTs deem that you need immediate emergency transport.
- Second, answer the responding police officer’s questions about the accident. If you suspect inebriation as a cause, tell the police and let them know why you think that. Circumstances such as the driver weaving from one side of the road to the other, the smell of alcohol on a driver’s breath, or witnessing someone drinking alcohol in the vehicle can all help the police officer assess the situation. The police should follow up accordingly, administering either chemical tests or roadside tests that assess drivers for possible drunkenness. New York State has strict driving while intoxicated (DWI) laws. The police can test, bring drivers in for further questioning, and charge drivers accordingly. Afterward, you will want to obtain a copy of the police report. The police report is a record of what happened according to the officer’s assessment. It is evidence, at least preliminarily, of how the accident happened and why.
- Third, exchange information with all other drivers. Obtain their insurance information and contact information, such as e-mail addresses.
- Fourth, if eyewitnesses are present, talk to them if possible, and get their contact information.
- Fifth, if you have a smartphone with you, take pictures of the accident scene and the vehicles involved. Your goal here is to collect your own evidentiary record of what happened and how it happened. How one car struck another, for example, can provide evidence of what led to the collision. The severity of the impact can also reveal relevant information, such as estimated vehicle speed. If any driver hit stationary objects, such as barriers or street signs, take pictures of these as well.
- Sixth, after the police indicate it is okay to leave, see a doctor as soon as possible. Make sure to do this even if you feel entirely uninjured. Only a doctor can examine you and assess you for possible injuries. Some potentially serious injuries, such as concussions, don’t necessarily present with symptoms right away.
- Seventh, keep all records of doctor’s visits and any related medical treatment, such as X-rays or prescriptions. Follow all your doctor’s recommendations.
- Finally, consult our New York drunk driving accident attorneys if you were in a drunk driving accident, especially if you suffered severe injuries.
People injured by a drunk driver in New York state make take several avenues of recourse.
New York is a no-fault state for insurance purposes. This means that if you are in an accident with another driver, your own insurance company will cover your medical bills and some percentage of any wages you lose at work stemming from the accident.
But if your injuries are severe and the other driver was at fault for the accident, there may be additional avenues to pursue compensation.
Severely injured people are permitted to bring a claim against an at-fault party if their injuries include at least one of the following:
- A broken bone;
- Permanent limitation of use of a body organ or member;
- Significant limitation of use of a body function or system;
- Substantially full disability for at least 90 days; and/or
- Significant disfigurement.
Severely injured people can either pursue a claim through the at-fault party’s insurance company (known as a third-party insurance claim) or bring a New York drunk driver lawsuit against the at-fault party in civil court.
Drivers charged with a DWI or related crime must appear in criminal court. A criminal charge against a drunk driver is brought by the state prosecutor, not by the drunk driver’s victims.
If the victim chooses to bring a lawsuit against the drunk driver, that lawsuit takes place in civil court. Criminal court and civil court are two entirely separate court systems. A drunk driver can face charges in criminal court and a civil injury lawsuit at the same time, and the victim can still pursue compensation in civil court even if the driver is never convicted of a crime.
Your own insurance coverage will pay for medical bills and wages lost from work if you suffer injuries in a drunk driving accident, up to your policy limit.
If someone else caused the accident and your injuries included at least one of the state-defined severe injuries above, you can also seek damage compensation in the following categories:
- Medical bills, both already incurred and expected in the future – These can include doctor’s visits, emergency room treatment, emergency room transport, diagnostic testing, hospitalization, surgery, physical therapy, prescription medication, assistive devices, retrofitting homes for injuries and access, and more.
- Wages lost from work, both already incurred and expected in the future – These can include time missed from work because of the accident, during the recuperation period, and for ongoing appointments or treatment. If the injuries are severe enough to keep the victim from working long-term or permanently, compensation can include estimated future lost wages.
- Pain and suffering – Physical, emotional, and mental pain and suffering are all compensable.
The total damage compensation victims can seek for injuries depends on what injuries they suffered, the severity of the injuries, and the impact those injuries have on their lives. No one should ever give an average worth of a claim against a drunk driver, because all of these factors matter and affect the amount an individual might receive for their specific claim.
Economic damages are fairly straightforward to calculate in each case, because these damages cover medical treatments and lost wages, which have set values. The economic damages a victim can claim for medical bills equal the cost of the medical bills to treat the injury. Future costs are a little more complicated, and expert testimony is often necessary to predict future treatments and calculate the expected cost.
The economic damages a victim can claim for wages lost is equal to the amount of time they have lost multiplied by their current wages. Again, calculating future lost wages often requires an expert opinion to determine what the victim’s average working years would have been and how much they would have earned during their recovery, or in the case of a permanent injury, over their lifetime if they had remained healthy.
Ascertaining the worth of non-economic damages poses a more complex problem, because pain and suffering are subjective. Most often, the insurance company or court will calculate pain and suffering by multiplying the victim’s economic damages by a number between 1.5 and 5. The lower end of the scale is applied if the injuries are relatively minor and expected to resolve without complication or incident. The higher end of the scale is applied for severe injuries expected to have a long-term impact.
If you are injured in an accident involving a drunk driver, you can bring a lawsuit against any party whose actions caused the accident, as long as the accident directly caused your injuries. If it was a multi-vehicle accident, for example, other drivers may bear responsibility for the cause as well.
New York State also has a dram shop law. Under this law, it is illegal to serve alcohol to minors (under 21), “habitual drunkards,” and people already visibly intoxicated. Establishments may bear responsibility for your injuries if they sell alcohol to someone who meets one of these definitions and who then causes an accident that injures you.
Finally, accidents can conceivably stem from things other than the driver’s drunkenness. Accidents can also stem from multiple causes, and the victim can bring insurance claims or lawsuits against all of the at-fault parties. If one of the causes or even the sole cause is a mechanical failure of the car (such as brake failure, for example), the car’s manufacturer may bear responsibility for the accident, too.
In New York, you must bring a lawsuit against the at-fault party in a car accident within three years of the date of the accident. This deadline is known as the statute of limitations.
That said, victims should pursue damage compensation as soon as possible after an accident. Successful lawsuits require evidence. Police records, medical records, photographs, and surveillance footage are all examples of evidence. Evidence can fade, suffer damage, or even disappear as the years go by. Eyewitnesses may no longer remember the incident or even refuse to testify.
If you’ve seen the elegant conference rooms in television shows such as The Good Fight, you might wonder if you can afford a lawyer’s advice.
The lawyers who work with victims of drunk drivers usually work on a contingency basis, meaning they do not charge fees up front, but instead take them out of the insurance check or legal settlement at the end of the case. Contingency fees, in other words, are a percentage of what the client wins in damage compensation, so clients only owe the lawyer’s fees if they win their case.
New York drunk driving accident lawyers also usually provide a completely free consultation to discuss your case when you first approach them. Come prepared to tell them how the accident injured you and what occurred in the accident. If you have evidence such as police reports and medical records, bring copies.
New York drunk driving accident law also covers cases in which a victim is not only injured, but is either killed outright or dies of injuries they sustained in an accident involving a drunk driver, as long as a party other than the deceased person was at fault. These cases are known as wrongful death.
A representative of the deceased person’s estate can bring a wrongful death case in New York. Family members cannot, although the estate can seek damage compensation on their behalf.
Damage compensation in wrongful death cases can include:
- Funeral and burial expenses.
- Medical and related costs incurred as a result of the deceased person’s final injury or illness.
- Wages and benefits lost between the final injury and death.
- Conscious pain and suffering endured by the deceased due to the final injury.
- Value of support and services the deceased provided family members.
- Value of parental nurturing, care, and guidance to surviving children.
- Lost inheritance suffered by surviving children.
If you need any other questions answered, contact the experienced drunk driving attorneys of Jacoby & Meyers, LLP, for a free consultation. We’re here to help.
Contact a Skilled New York Drunk Driving Lawyer Today
The award-winning legal team at Jacoby & Meyers, LLP, understand the challenges you might face in the aftermath of a drunk driving accident. We are here to assist you through this difficult time and handle the details of your claim. After investigating the circumstances of the accident, we can gather relevant reports and records, talk to potential witnesses, and build the strongest case possible against the driver who caused your injuries. This gives you the time and energy to remain focused on your recovery.
Our New York drunk driving attorneys are skilled negotiators who want to come to a fair settlement agreement, so you get the compensation you deserve. Settlement isn’t always an option, so we are ready to fight for you in the courtroom if need be. If you choose us to represent you in your drunk driving accident case, we handle personal injury cases on contingency, deducting attorney fees only from any compensation we secure for you from a settlement or verdict in your favor.
If you or one you love suffered serious injuries or died as a result of a drunk driver, you shouldn’t have the shoulder the financial burden that comes with these losses.
“If it were not for the integral legal team of experts at Jacoby & Meyers I would not be where I am today with my recovery. I highly recommend hiring Jacoby & Meyers should you ever find yourself injured in an accident, and an individual or company needs to be held accountable for their negligence.” -C.J.
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