Manhattan Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer
Recently, an alleged drunk driver in a smart car caused serious injuries to a pedestrian and a crossing guard in downtown Manhattan. The 27-year-old driver, who had rented the smart car, made a sharp turn at a Battery Park City intersection, striking a woman and the crossing guard before hitting a utility pole.
The accident severed the woman’s foot, and also caused serious head and body trauma. She was transported to the hospital in critical condition. The crossing guard was also transported to the hospital with serious injuries, though they weren’t considered life-threatening. The smart car’s windshield was shattered and it had extensive front-end damage. The driver was arrested at the scene and charged with driving while intoxicated.
Why Is Alcohol-Impaired Driving So Dangerous?
A person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is the measurement of the amount of alcohol within a certain volume of blood. When a person’s BAC reaches 0.08 grams per deciliter, he or she is considered legally impaired and therefore prohibited from driving. It takes the average-sized person about 4 drinks to reach this level of impairment. The effects of alcohol on the skills needed for driving are profound and they begin well before the fourth drink. Here is a glimpse at the impacts alcohol has on driving by the level of impairment and based on consumption by a 160-pound male.
Alcohol affects people differently—depending on body mass, how long they’ve been drinking, and other factors—so the levels of impairment described may take more or less alcohol to reach.
- 0.02 BAC, generally reached with the consumption of one drink, will cause a person to experience loss in judgment and a reduction in the ability to track moving objects or to perform two tasks at once.
- 0.05 BAC, approximately two drinks, will cause a person to exhibit exaggerated behavior, impaired judgment, difficulty focusing the eyes, decreased alertness, and release of inhibition. The driver at this level of impairment will also experience diminished coordination, less ability to track moving objects, trouble with the task of steering, and slower response to emergency driving situations.
- 0.08 BAC, the legal limit achieved by approximately four drinks, offers deficits such as difficulty balancing, slurred speech, vision difficulties, a reduced reaction time, and problems hearing. It also causes difficulty in detecting danger and lapses in judgment, memory, self-control, and reasoning. Drivers will have a hard time concentrating on the task of driving, short-term memory loss, an inability to maintain a safe speed, impaired perception, and a significantly lessened information processing ability.
- 0.10 BAC, equal to about five drinks, will cause the driver to have significantly impaired reaction time and control as well as slurred speech, poor coordination, and slowed mental responses. They will also struggle with maintaining their own lane position and to brake effectively.
- 0.15 BAC, achieved in about seven drinks, will result in a significant loss of muscle control, audio and visual processing, and balance, and will likely result in vomiting. This level of impairment will cause drivers to experience a substantial reduction in the ability to control their vehicle, or to pay attention to the task of driving.
Statistics reveal that a driver with a BAC of 0.10 or higher is seven times more likely to cause a fatal accident than a driver with no impairment. A BAC of 0.15 or higher creates a risk of having a fatal accident that is 25 times higher than a non-impaired driver. Even a driver with a BAC of 0.02—which is one drink—is 1.4 times more likely to cause an accident than a sober driver.
Beyond the risk of causing death and serious injury, a driver’s impairment may also result in criminal convictions, impoundment of one’s vehicle, suspension or revocation of the individual’s driver’s license, jail time, penalties and fines, the requirement of an interlock device and mandatory alcohol classes, civil liability for injuries caused, and increased insurance.
Dangers for Teens
Teenage drivers already have a higher accident rate than other age groups due to inexperience and development. The inexperience makes them unsure as to what to do in emergency driving situations. The development causes them to struggle with efficiently scanning the roadway to hazards. The addition of alcohol impairment to driving skills that are still developing and being honed can be deadly. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teens. and approximately one third of teen drivers are alcohol-impaired at the time of the crash.
Dangers for Children
In one recent year, 220 children aged 14 and under were killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes. Of those children:
- 118 were occupants in vehicles where the driver had a BAC of 0.08 or higher
- 71 were the occupants of other vehicles that were struck by a drunk driver
- 29 were non-occupants, including pedestrians and bicyclists
- 2 were driving the vehicle
The Financial Burden of Drunk Driving Accidents
Drunk driving isn’t only expensive for the impaired driver or other people that he or she has injured. It is also expensive for society. The estimated economic cost of all alcohol-impaired crashes is about $44 billion. Some of those include:
- Increased insurance rates. Drunk driving crashes don’t just cause the driver’s insurance rates to increase, the cost is indirectly passed on to all insured drivers through incremental premium increases.
- Lost productivity at the workplace due to traffic congestion.
- Tax-funded services and damage. The cost of emergency medical services at the crash scene as well as the replacement of guardrails, road signs, and other tax-funded features damaged in the accident are paid by the citizens of the community in which the crash occurred.
- Drunk driving also requires other tax-funded services and provisions, including law enforcement, jails to house convicted drunk drivers in, as well as judicial and administrative costs.
- The cost of funding public healthcare for accident victims who don’t have enough insurance to cover their expenses.
Frequently Asked Questions FAQ
Across Manhattan, hundreds of people suffer severe injuries in drunk driving accidents every year. Drunk drivers have significantly impaired reaction times, difficulty controlling their vehicles, and the potential to behave erratically on the road. They cause more accidents, often with comparatively worse injuries, than drivers not under the influence of alcohol. Did you suffer injuries in a drunk driving accident in Manhattan? Here, we attempt to answer some of the most common questions about the accident.
Does a drunk driver automatically take legal liability for an accident in Manhattan?
Many factors can influence an auto accident: mechanical failures, unsafe driving conditions, and the actions of other drivers, for example. A drunk driver may bear primary liability in an auto accident due to a lack of control of the vehicle or poor responses in an accident scenario.
However, other parties may also share liability for a drunk driving accident, including:
- The driver’s employer. Across Manhattan, many people drive as part of their daily jobs: delivery drivers, truck drivers, and taxis, for example. Those drivers’ employers must adhere to the law, including limiting the number of hours truck drivers can spend behind the wheel each shift and not forcing drivers to drive when under the influence. If the company puts pressure on a driver to get behind the wheel while under the influence of alcohol, the company may bear liability for the accident.
- The company that manufactures the vehicle or parts for the vehicle. Driving under the influence of alcohol can prevent a driver from responding safely and correctly during a mechanical failure, raising the risk of serious injuries in the event of an accident. However, if mechanical failure causes the accident, the company that manufactures the failed part may share liability for the accident.
- A mechanic that recently worked on the vehicle. Just as manufacturers bear a certain degree of liability when failed parts cause an auto accident, if a mechanic recently worked on that vehicle and failed to fix it correctly, leading to an accident, he may share liability for the accident, even if the driver had a high blood alcohol content at the time of the accident.
How does the fact that the other driver was drinking change the amount of compensation that I can receive for a drunk driving accident?
A drunk driver can cause more serious injuries in an accident than a sober driver, which can increase the compensation you can receive for your injuries. The driver’s decision to drink, however, does not automatically change the compensation you can receive for your injuries following an auto accident.
Typically, a personal injury claim after a drunk driving accident includes:
Your medical expenses. Drunk driving accidents often lead to severe injuries, including traumatic brain injury, spinal cord damage, burns, and amputations. The more severe your injuries, the more your medical expenses will add up. By tracking all of your medical bills, you can accurately determine your financial losses due to the accident.
Keep track of:
- Emergency medical care costs, including ambulance transport
- Procedures and surgeries to treat your injuries
- Tests, scans, and evaluations
- Follow-up appointments
- Hospitalization or a stay in a long-term care facility, if needed
- Durable medical equipment
- The cost of modifying your house, from updating your bathroom to installing wheelchair ramps, if needed
Your lost income or lost earning potential. A drunk driving accident can have you out of work for a long time, especially if you suffer severe or life-altering injuries. You may miss work in the immediate aftermath of the accident, as you start the recovery process. Depending on your job, you may have the ability to return to work in a part-time capacity or to modify your daily job responsibilities to allow you to take them on in spite of your injuries. Unfortunately, not everyone has that option. Include your lost income as part of your personal injury claim to make it easier to pay your bills and support yourself financially after your accident. Victims who permanently lose the ability to return to work in their previous professions can also claim lost earning potential.
Your pain and suffering. Consulting with an attorney can help you get a better idea of how to quantify pain and suffering following your accident. An attorney will advise you to consider not only physical pain, but also the emotional impact that your accident has had on your life.
The drunk driver’s insurance policy may also act to limit the compensation you can receive for your injuries. In New York, drivers carry a minimum of $25,000 in bodily injury coverage per accident. If your injury costs exceed that amount, you may not receive additional compensation. You will also turn first to your personal injury protection insurance to cover your medical bills. Some drivers, including commercial drivers, may carry much higher policies to help protect victims injured in accidents with those drivers.
The police say the other driver obviously caused my accident. Do I really need an attorney to handle a drunk driving personal injury claim in Manhattan?
If you suffered injuries in a drunk driving accident, you should retain an attorney to help you file a personal injury claim and seek compensation for the full cost of your injuries. An attorney offers multiple benefits when filing a personal injury claim.
- An attorney can prevent you from accepting a low settlement offer. Many insurance adjusters focus on saving their companies money, rather than on ensuring that accident victims get the financial compensation they need after an accident, including drunk driving accidents. The insurance company may, therefore, contact you soon after the accident to issue a settlement offer. Often, that offer represents the minimum the insurance adjuster feels the company can get away with. If you accept that offer, it may limit the compensation you can receive for your injuries in the future.
- An attorney can give you a full picture of the compensation you deserve. Regardless of whether the insurance company issues a settlement offer soon after a drunk driving accident, you need to understand the compensation you legally deserve for your injuries. The more severe your injuries, the higher the compensation you should receive. An attorney can help guide you through putting together a demand package and calculating the full extent of the damages that you face.
- An attorney can handle your claim for you and answer all your questions about the process. You can hand your claim over to an attorney and let him or her handle it, rather than having to figure out how to do it for yourself. Having an attorney take on those tasks instead can reduce your stress levels and ensure that you do not miss out on an opportunity for compensation due to lack of knowledge.
- An attorney can collect valuable evidence regarding your claim. A drunk driver may have clearly caused your accident, but that does not automatically mean that the drunk driver alone bears liability for your injuries. If your attorney can identify other parties that contributed to the accident, you can file a personal injury claim against each one. This strategy can significantly increase the compensation received by many accident victims.
The police did not have the driver take a Breathalyzer test at the scene of the accident, nor did they take a blood sample. The driver did not face drunk driving charges as a result. Can I still file a personal injury claim?
A drunk driver’s criminal conviction following a drunk driving accident has little to do with an injured victim’s personal injury claim. Regardless of whether the driver had a blood alcohol content over the legal limit or not, that driver caused your accident, resulting in severe injuries. You, therefore, have the right to file a personal injury claim. An independent evaluation, separate from the other driver’s criminal case, will determine what factors led or contributed to the accident and how much liability the drunk driver bears for your accident. A criminal conviction following a drunk driving accident can, however, provide valuable evidence in your personal injury claim.
How long will it take to actually recover compensation for a drunk driving accident in Manhattan?
Many people, after a drunk driving accident, find themselves with heavy expenses. Not only do medical bills mount quickly, but you may also find yourself unable to pay your other bills because you cannot return to work. Unfortunately, getting money from a personal injury claim, including a claim with a drunk driver, does not happen overnight.
How long it will take to get compensation for your injuries may vary based on several factors:
- How much money are you asking for? The more money you request for your injuries, the longer it can take to reach an agreement with the insurance company responsible for covering the drunk driver. You may receive the funds you deserve sooner if you have relatively minor injuries or request a lower level of compensation.
- How long will your injuries take to heal? While you can file your drunk driving personal injury claim immediately, many victims find it more practical to wait until they have progressed further through the healing process before filing a personal injury claim. Most insurance companies base a large percentage of your compensation on the extent of your medical bills as well as how your injuries will limit you throughout the rest of your life. You may need six months or more after your accident to fully understand how your injuries will impact you long-term and how much you can expect to heal. In some cases, you may want to hold off on filing your claim until you have a better idea of what that healing will look like.
- How hard do you want to fight?Some drunk driving accident victims choose to prioritize a faster settlement over a higher one. These individuals may not want to drag the process out longer than necessary. If you do not want to fight for increased compensation, it may help you to get a settlement in your hands sooner.
Filing a personal injury claim takes time. The insurance company may issue a settlement soon after the accident. You can counter with a demand package of your own: a list of the expenses you face as a result of your injuries. The insurance company then gets time to respond to your requests. You may go through several rounds of negotiation as you attempt to reach an agreement. If you cannot reach an agreement, you may proceed to mediation, then ultimately to court, to finalize your settlement.
Each step in this process takes time—but when opponents see the compelling cases our experienced Manhattan drunk driving accident lawyers lay out in negotiations and court, they know that dragging out their cases will only cost them more money in the long run.
How long do I have to file a drunk driving accident claim? When should I contact an attorney after a drunk driving accident?
Consult an experienced personal injury attorney as soon after your accident as possible. You likely have little time to file your personal injury claim because of New York’s statute of limitations.
You want to consult an attorney when:
- You receive a settlement offer. Contact an attorney for an evaluation of that offer and your accident before accepting it.
- You want to put together your demand package. You may need time, following your accident, before filing your demand package. An attorney can help you put together a comprehensive package that includes all of your medical expenses and other financial losses from the accident.
- You need help collecting evidence. Personal injury attorneys have the easiest access to evidence concerning the accident in the days immediately after the accident. Security footage of the facility where the drunk driver consumed alcohol or footage from security cameras pointed toward the scene may get deleted within a short time after the accident. Starting the investigation immediately will make it easier to access and preserve that information. Witness statements also get murkier with time, as people forget the exact circumstances that led up to the accident. The sooner an attorney starts working on your behalf, the sooner you can expect results.
Who Are the Drunk Drivers Causing Accidents?
According to statistics provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:
- The largest number of drivers with a BAC of 0.08 or higher was in the 21 to 24 year old age group, followed by 25 to 34 year old drivers.
- There are four male drunk drivers involved in fatal crashes for every female driver involved in an alcohol-impaired fatal accident.
- 64 percent of the drunk drivers involved in fatal crashes are unrestrained at the time of the crash, compared to 37 percent of drivers involved in a fatal crash who were not drinking.
- Around one-quarter of all drunk drivers involved in fatal crashes had previously recorded suspensions or revocations, as well as previously recorded speeding convictions. Nineteen percent had previously recorded crashes, and 10 percent had previous drunk driving convictions.
When and Where Are Drunk Driving Accidents Most Likely to Occur?
Drunk drivers cause 30 percent of fatal traffic crashes in New York. Some of the NHTSA’s statistics concerning the time and place where drunk driving accidents occur include:
- Slightly more drunk driving accidents occur in urban areas (55 percent), compared to rural areas (45 percent).
- The vast majority of these accidents occur in clear weather, with only 7 percent occurring in rain and 3 percent occurring in other weather conditions.
- 70 percent of drunk driving accidents happen during the hours of darkness, with daylight accounting for 26 percent of the accidents, and dawn and dusk only accounting for 1 and 3 percent respectively.
- 32 percent of drunk driving accidents happen on non-interstate principal arterial roads. 20 percent happen on non-interstate minor arterial roads, and another 20 percent occur on non-interstate collector roads. 16 percent occur on non-interstate local roads, and 13 percent occur on the interstate.
- Slightly more accidents occurred during the summer months of July, August, and September, as compared to the other months of the year.
- The drivers in fatal traffic crashes are 3.6 times more likely to be alcohol-impaired if the accident happened during the night than they are to be alcohol-impaired in daytime crashes.
- 28 percent of the drivers involved in fatal crashes at night are alcohol-impaired, as are 15 percent of the drivers in daytime fatal crashes.
More Examples of Manhattan Drunk Driving Accidents
Recently, an off-duty corrections officer in Manhattan was arrested after he drove drunk and crashed into at least five parked cars and sparked a chain reaction crash in which three people were injured. The man—employed by the NYC Department of Corrections—attempted to flee, but was arrested at the scene after police officers noticed that his speech was slurred and his eyes were bloodshot. He refused to submit to a breathalyzer test. He was charged with driving while intoxicated, driving while ability impaired, and refusing a Breathalyzer test.
A Manhattan woman was arrested in Sag Harbor recently, and charged with a felony for allegedly driving drunk with a child in the car. Police received a report that the woman had left a coffee shop at around 10:30 a.m. and got behind the wheel of a vehicle. They found the vehicle quickly, as the woman had parked it in the middle of the street, blocking traffic. After the woman failed field sobriety tests, officers happened to notice there was an infant in the back seat of her vehicle. She then refused a blood test at the hospital, forcing officers to obtain a search warrant to test her blood.
The woman was charged under Leandra’s Law, a law named after Leandra Rosario, a child who died in a drunk driving accident in 2009. The law makes it a felony to drive drunk with a child under 16 in the vehicle and also creates one of the few circumstances in which law enforcement officials can seek a warrant to test the blood alcohol concentration in a suspected drunk driver’s blood.
Recently, a survivor of a multi-car crash in Queens that killed three people and wounded 11 filed a lawsuit against two Manhattan bars, claiming that they recklessly sold alcohol to a visibly drunk man. The man then wound up behind the wheel of the car the survivor was riding in. The man then hit a wall on the left side of the roadway and slid about 100 feet along the top of that wall before striking a pillar that caused the car to be split in two parts, severely injuring the woman who filed the lawsuit.
The driver and two of the other four passengers in the car were ejected and died at the scene. Another car hit one of the parts of the car, setting off the chain reaction crash that also resulted in a truck hitting five parked cars. New York’s dram shop law states that owners of business establishments that serve alcohol can be held liable for car accident injuries if it is discovered that they over-served a driver before the crash.
If You Were Injured in a Manhattan Drunk Driving Accident
When people drive drunk, they put themselves and everyone else on the roadway at risk. When they drive drunk and cause an accident, they can leave victims with serious and life-altering injuries and a mountain of expenses. If this has happened to you, a skilled Manhattan drunk driving accident attorney at Jacoby & Meyers, LLP, can help you understand the legal options that you have available to you for obtaining compensation. For a free case evaluation, contact us online or call us at (212) 445-7000.
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