Our DUI accident attorneys in NYC have seen and understand the dangers posed by an intoxicated driver. While driving under the influence of alcohol is illegal in New York and comes with stiff penalties, such as fines and jail time, drivers who operate vehicles while intoxicated are not the only people affected by their criminal behavior. Unfortunately, intoxicated individuals risk the lives of others when they choose to get behind the wheel of a car. Accidents involving drunk drivers often involve serious or catastrophic injuries and, in some cases, prove fatal. While it may be less challenging to prove that an intoxicated driver was negligent and thus legally responsible for causing an accident and resulting injuries, such cases often present many challenges for the individuals injured in the accident.
As a result, individuals who have suffered injuries after being involved in a car accident with a drunk driver may have grounds to file a lawsuit for any damages incurred. At Queller, Fisher, Washor, Fuchs & Kool And The Law Office Of William A. Gallina, LLP, our DUI accident attorneys know the hardships that victims of drunk drivers can face. As a result, we are committed to using our resources to get our clients' lives back on track by pursuing maximum compensation in court.
Consequences Of Drunk Driving Accidents
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that nearly one-third of all fatal auto accidents are caused by impaired driving. Accidents caused by drivers under the influence of alcohol or drugs are often very serious because drunk drivers tend to speed, weave into other lanes and miss traffic signals. Head-on and T-bone collisions are common and may lead to wrongful death or catastrophic injuries such as:
- Brain Injuries
- Back Injuries
- Neck Injuries
- Spinal Cord Injuries
- Burn Injuries
People who are injured by a drunk driver are justifiably angry that their accident could have been prevented. When another person’s negligence results in injuries, it is natural to want to be compensated for your losses. If you were injured by a drunk driver, our DUI accident attorneys in NYC can work for the compensation you deserve.
Do I Have A Valid DUI Lawsuit?
While driving under the influence of alcohol does constitute negligence, it does not necessarily present grounds for a lawsuit. In order to have grounds for a DUI lawsuit, the victim of the accident must be able to prove that the impaired driver was directly responsible for the accident. For instance, if an individual is in an accident with a drunk driver, but the impaired driver did not cause the accident, the injured individual may not have grounds for a claim. Furthermore, the accident must have caused the victim to suffer either economic or non-economic damages. Economic damages are any financial loss sustained, such as lost wages, medical bills or property damage. Non-economic damages are any long-term pain and suffering incurred, such as scarring or emotional trauma.
Insurance Companies Play A Major Role In Drunk Driving Accident Lawsuits
Due to the fact that accidents stemming from drunk driving often involve such serious injuries, the ensuing claim may result in high stakes litigation for an insurance company. Thus, if there is significant insurance coverage (for example $1 million or more), the attorneys for the defendant's insurance carrier are often unlikely to concede the issue of liability. Examples of common defenses can include claims that the plaintiff (i.e., the injured party) caused his or her own accident, regardless of the fact that the culpable driver was drunk at the time of the accident. Also, it is common that even in the face of serious injuries, the defending lawyers will claim that such injuries are unrelated to the accident. While this defense might be unavailable in a death case or a case involving fractured and broken bones, this defense is commonly set forth in cases where victims suffer more subjective types of injuries, such as a herniated disc in the neck or back that requires surgery. In such cases, defense attorneys will go to great lengths to try to disclaim liability for the drunk driving accident by claiming that the neck or back condition was pre-existing or degenerative (i.e., non-traumatic) in nature, and thus was not caused by the accident. Such claims are commonly made even when our clients require surgery due to injuries sustained in these types of accidents. Prosecuting a serious drunk driving accident case will not be a simple matter, but rest assured, our knowledgeable and experienced DUI accident attorneys in NYC will best represent your interests and needs in a case of that nature.
What Happens If The Drunk Driver Isn't Sufficiently Insured?
A major issue that arises in drunk driving accidents is the fact that there is often insufficient insurance coverage maintained by the offending driver to fairly compensate the victims for the catastrophic result of the collision. In many cases, compulsory auto insurance minimum coverage in the State of New York only provides coverage of $25,000 per person per accident. As a result, many drivers maintain only the minimum insurance coverage or some other inadequate amount to fairly compensate the victim. These drivers often have little or no assets to satisfy a judgment. Thus, an experienced DUI accident attorney needs to do more than just scratch the surface in investigating a drunk driving accident.
In this regard, it is imperative to do a full, prompt and thorough investigation to determine if some other entity such as a bar, restaurant or tavern also bears some responsibility for the occurrence of the accident by improperly serving alcoholic beverages to the intoxicated driver. In order to determine the circumstances under which the drunk driver became intoxicated, an investigation must be performed to determine where the drunk driver consumed the alcohol, and how much alcohol was consumed and within what period of time. It is also critical to try to find witnesses to the consumption of the beverages. Finding witnesses is critical. In order to prove a case against the server of the beverages, it will be necessary to prove, based on a preponderance of the evidence, that the offending driver was visibly intoxicated and was nevertheless served alcohol that led to the accident. Such proof may come in the form of witnesses who are able to attest to the fact that the individual was slurring his or her speech while or prior to being served alcohol, or proof that otherwise shows that the person was unsteady on his feet or loud and unruly (all things that may be evidence of intoxication). An attorney needs to collect enough evidence to potentially show a jury that the server of the alcohol had enough information to know that the person was already drunk when he or she was given alcohol. If this can be proven, liability may attach to the alcohol server's establishment. Proving liability against the alcohol server's establishment is an important element of drunk driving cases when the driver himself is woefully underinsured. Bars or taverns often have adequate insurance to fairly compensate the victim. An experienced DUI accident attorney in NYC will leave no stone unturned to seek the truth of the circumstance under which the intoxicated person became drunk.