If you or a loved one has been injured or even killed in a car accident with a drunk driver, your family is probably dealing with a great deal of emotional and financial stress. No family deserves to suffer the consequences of a drunk driving accident alone.
If you’re in this position, you probably have many questions about what comes next. We’ve compiled a list of some of the most common concerns of DUI victims. While by no means an exhaustive list, hopefully you can find some answers here as you begin to plan for your recovery.
For additional information and assistance, you should consider speaking with an experienced personal injury lawyer. While the criminal justice system handles the task of punishing offenders, Lipsig’s dedicated drunk driving accident lawyers are here to represent the victims and secure the compensation families need to move past the devastation of becoming a DUI victim.
- Can I sue the drunk driver who hit and injured me in a car accident?
- What is considered a “serious injury?”
- I was injured in a car accident as a passenger of a drunk driver. Can I sue the driver?
- Can I file a lawsuit if the driver has not yet been convicted?
- What can I do if the drunk driver fled the scene?
- What if the driver who hit me is uninsured?
- Besides the driver, who else could be held liable after a drunk driving accident?
- What’s the definition of “visibly intoxicated”?
- Can I sue if the driver who hit me wasn’t drunk, but on prescription drugs?
- What types of compensation could I get if I file a drunk driving accident lawsuit?
- I lost a family member after they were hit by a drunk driver. Can I sue for wrongful death?
- Why do I need a lawyer as a victim of a drunk driver?
- What if I can’t afford a lawyer?
Can I Sue The Drunk Driver Who Hit And Injured Me In A Car Accident?
Yes, as long as it can be proven that the drunk driver’s negligence directly caused the crash and your injuries. Your own auto insurance policy will provide for some of your economic losses, such as medical bills and lost wages. However, many victims of drunk drivers require additional compensation about their policy cap limit.
If your losses are over $50,000 or you suffered a serious injury, you are permitted to seek additional compensation in a personal injury lawsuit.
What Is Considered A “Serious Injury”?
New York Insurance Laws section 5102(d) has defined a serious injury as one which involves any of the following conditions:
- Significant disfigurement
- Loss of a fetus
- Permanent loss of use of a body organ, member, function, or system
- Permanent limitation of use of a body organ or member
- Significant limitation of use of a body function or system
- Injuries or impairments which prevent you from performing your usual daily activities for at least 90 days
What Types Of Compensation Could I Get If I File A Drunk Driving Accident Lawsuit?
Personal injury lawsuits against drunk drivers allow you to recover compensation for both economic and noneconomic damages, such as:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Scarring or disfigurement
- Loss of spousal support (in wrongful death cases)
I Was Injured In A Car Accident As A Passenger Of A Drunk Driver. Can I Sue The Driver?
It depends. If you supplied alcohol to the driver then you may not have a valid claim. But even if you knew the other driver had been drinking, you could still qualify for compensation. New York is a comparative negligence state, which means that you could still receive compensation even if you were partially responsible for the accident. For example, if the courts determine that you were 30% at fault because you knew that the driver had been drinking, you could still recover 70% of your total damages.
These types of lawsuits are especially complicated, so you should consider discussing your situation with an experienced drunk driving victims’ attorney.
Can I File A Lawsuit If The Driver Has Not Yet Been Convicted?
Yes, it’s okay for civil and criminal cases to overlap. Criminal procedings are an important part of any drunk driving case. Every day, approximately 27 Americans are killed by drunk drivers. The dangers of getting behind the wheel while intoxicated are well-known, so these people need to face criminal punishment for their recklessness.
However, criminal trials do little to take care of the victims of drunk drivers. The civil court system fills this void by providing victims of serious injuries with much-needed additional compensation outside of their insurance policies. In any personal injury case, it’s important to act quickly in order to give yourself the best chance of recovering compensation in a timely manner. There is no reason to wait for a conviction before you file a lawsuit.
What Can I Do If The Drunk Driver Fled The Scene?
The police take hit-and-runs seriously, especially if drunk driving and serious injuries are involved. As part of a criminal investigation, they will work to identify the culprit and bring him to justice. Once he or she has been captured, you can proceed with filing a personal injury lawsuit.
What If The Driver Who Hit Me Is Uninsured?
Since New York is a no-fault insurance state, your auto insurance policy’s personal injury protection (PIP) coverage will cover your first $50,000 in economic expenses, such as medical bills and pain and suffering. If you were in an accident with an uninsured driver, you may file a claim with your uninsured motorist coverage (UM) for expenses that exceed this policy limit. This coverage acts as a substitute for the negligent driver’s lack of coverage.
Besides The Driver, Who Else Could Be Held Liable After A Drunk Driving Accident?
While drunk drivers should always be held responsible for their own actions, sometimes others enabled them to drive drunk. These parties may also be held liable in a personal injury lawsuit. There are two main categories of additional parties who could face liability after a drunk driving accident:
- Alcohol vendors – New York City has dram shop laws which allow bars, restaurants, and all other alcohol vendors to be held liable if they sold alcohol to a visibly intoxicated person or someone who was “actually or apparently” under 21 years old.
- Those who provided minors with alcohol – New York also has a social host liability law, which allows victims of under-21 drunk drivers to sue anyone who provided the underage driver with alcohol.
What’s The Definition Of “Visibly Intoxicated?”
There is no set definition for visible intoxication, but there are common warning signs. It’s up to the alcohol vendor to set their own standards for identifying visibly intoxicated patrons. Employees should be instructed on which signs to look out for, and to refuse service if they notice a combination of multiple warning signs.
Some of the more common identifiers of visible intoxication include:
- Slurred speech
- Bloodshot eyes
- Lack of coordination
- Obnoxious or belligerent behavior
- Falling asleep
- Repetitive statements
- Spilling drinks
- Blank stare or dazed look
Servers should err on the side of caution and refuse service if they’re unsure if a patron is visibly intoxicated. In most cases, if you suspect that someone has had too much to drink, they probably have.
Can I Sue If The Driver Who Hit Me Wasn’t Drunk, But On Prescription Drugs?
Yes. Driving while intoxicated does not only apply to driving under the influence of alcohol. Driving under the influence of any substance which impairs your ability to operate a motor vehicle could be grounds for a DUI. If you were involved in an accident and the police determined that the other driver was impaired by prescription drugs, you would have the same legal rights as if they were under the influence of alcohol.
I Lost A Family Member After They Were Hit By A Drunk Driver. Can I Sue For Wrongful Death?
Yes. While a lawsuit won’t ease the pain of losing a loved one, it can help provide financial stability for your family and punish the driver for the pain they’ve caused. These cases are structured very similarly to personal injury lawsuits. You would also likely have a strong case for punitive damages because of the destructive nature of the crime.
Why Do I Need A Lawyer Has A Victim Of A Drunk Driver?
If you or a loved one has recently been involved in an accident with a drunk driver, you’re probably struggling physically, emotionally, and maybe financially as well. Recovering from serious car accident injuries takes time, dedication, and support from your loved ones. But it also requires financial assistance. An experienced car accident attorney can help you receive the coverage you need and deserve while you and your family focus on your road to recovery.
While your insurance policy will provide some assistance, serious injuries require additional compensation. A knowledgeable attorney can help you recover the full compensation you deserve by dealing with insurance companies and filing lawsuits against the at-fault driver and/or the establishment which continued to serve them alcohol. For many injury victims, it’s almost impossible to fight this battle on their own, as their injuries are too incapacitating. The right lawyer will know how to gather the appropriate evidence to help your family get all the help you need.
What If I Can’t Afford To Hire A Lawyer?
At Lipsig, Shapey, Manus & Moverman, P.C., we’re in the business of helping innocent victims of preventable accidents get their lives back on track. We understand that an unexpected injury creates financial stress. That’s why we’re happy to evaluate cases in free initial consultations. Additionally, we work on a contingency-fee basis and only require payment if and when we help you secure compensation for you. Your fees are simply paid out from the compensation you received in a verdict or settlement.