Get the Help You Need From a Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer
Drunk drivers often cause serious harm to other motorists and passengers. The impacts can be life-altering, leading to high financial, medical and psychological costs. For those who lose a loved one, the pain lasts a lifetime. If you or someone you love received injuries from a drunk driver collision, you can count on Cellino Law Firm for the support you need to pursue just compensation.
Background on Drunk Driving Accidents
On the national stage, drunk drivers killed someone every 52 minutes on average in 2019, resulting in 10,142 fatalities that year and equaling 28% of all deaths from car crashes. That same year, males were four times more likely to cause a drunk driving accident than females, and the highest percentage of accidents involved impaired motorcyclists.
In New York, police reports indicate that drunk driving led to 230 fatalities and 3,585 injuries in the state in 2019. Erie County reported eight deaths and 217 injuries in alcohol-related traffic accidents.
New York’s Intoxicated Driving Law
State law makes it illegal for anyone to drive while intoxicated. The legal limit for drunk driving is 0.08 grams of alcohol per kilogram of a person’s body weight, determined through breath, urine, saliva, or blood tests. If the driver who hit you had an alcohol level of 0.15 or higher, the state considers it aggravated intoxicated driving.
When drunk drivers are involved in traffic accidents, they are usually ticketed, and their alcohol levels are recorded. As such, there is proof of their negligence, making it easier to prove that component of your case.
Compensation for Your Injuries
While establishing negligence on the drunk driver’s part may be less challenging than other types of car crash personal injury cases, you still may confront obstacles to receiving the compensation you deserve.
Personal Injury Protection Insurance
New York is a no-fault insurance state, requiring every driver to have personal injury protection. This coverage is supposed to minimize the time it takes for those injured in a car accident to receive compensation. The law’s intent is also to reduce personal injury lawsuits.
Personal injury protection is also known as first-party benefits. If you get hurt in an accident involving a drunk driver, your first compensation avenue is your own insurance company. Your PIP insurance should cover at a minimum:
- Necessary and reasonable medical and rehabilitation costs up to $50,000
- Wages for missed work, up to $2,000 per month or 85% of your income, whichever is less
- Related expenses — such as household help and transportation to medical appointments — for up to $25 daily
You may have elected higher limits, so checking your policy for coverage amounts is essential.
The law prohibits drivers from collecting compensation for car accident injuries under certain conditions. Drivers intoxicated or under the influence of drugs at the time of the accident can only file for compensation for emergency medical treatment.
Motorcyclists, ATV drivers and their passengers are also unable to utilize their PIP insurance to pay for injuries sustained in a traffic accident. Intentionally causing harm to themselves also bars drivers from collecting compensation to pay for damages.
One of the most significant challenges most people face is their insurance companies. These companies are not their customers’ champions. Agents and claims adjusters are more invested in the company’s bottom line than your well-being. Your insurer is likely to offer a low-ball settlement.
The company may also refuse to cover all your expenses, claiming they aren’t reasonable or necessary. The claims adjuster will likely counter projections of future health issues, even when your healthcare professional provides them. A Cellino Law Firm drunk driving accident attorney can handle negotiations with your insurance company, leaving you to focus on recovery.
Drunk driving accidents often cause extensive injuries, potentially leading to long-term medical issues. They can be traumatic, resulting in emotional trauma and mental health issues like post-traumatic stress disorder. You may experience negative repercussions for your career path and earning potential.
The resulting damages can quickly exceed the standard $50,000 PIP coverage limits. Furthermore, insurance won’t pay for non-economic damages or roadblocks to your earning capacity. Injuries with these impacts typically meet New York’s requirements for a personal injury lawsuit.
New York’s Threshold for Legal Claims
You must first meet the state’s criteria for serious injuries to file a legal claim in the State of New York for an impaired driver car accident. If you meet or surpass the serious injury threshold, you may be able to recover economic damages exceeding your policy’s limits and non-economic damages such as pain and suffering and loss of life enjoyment. Our attorneys have the knowledge and experience you need to navigate the complex legal system. They can help you determine if your injuries meet the following legal criteria:
- Dismemberment or significant disfigurement
- Permanent reduction or loss of use of an organ or body member
- Significant reduction or loss of use of a body function or system
- Fractured bones
- Injuries that prevent you from performing your typical daily activities for 90 out of the 180 days following the accident
- Loss of a fetus
If you or your loved one has injuries stemming from a traffic accident that involved a drunk driver, and those injuries meet any of the above criteria, they pass the state’s threshold for filing a personal injury lawsuit.
Legal System Navigation
Taking legal action is often daunting, made even more complicated when trying to get your life back on track. Before accepting an insurance settlement or filing a legal claim, you may want to discuss your case with a lawyer. The attorney can look at the facts of the case and advise you of your options.
If you pursue a lawsuit, your legal team helps you collect the evidence, builds your case and files your claim. In a drunk-driving case, your attorney assesses whether another party is partially responsible. For instance, if a bartender continues to serve a visibly drunk customer and that individual causes a car accident, the bartender may be held partially liable.
Additionally, your legal team will determine what damages you incurred and calculate your total losses. They also assess whether to pursue punitive damages. Certain circumstances, such as getting hit by a repeat drunk-driving offender, are sufficient grounds for filing for punitive damages.
New York Comparative Fault Law
It’s essential that your attorney constructs a solid case for you. The defendants will no doubt attempt to lay the blame at your feet. If they succeed to any degree, you won’t receive the total settlement amount the court awards.
This state operates under a pure comparative fault rule. According to this rule, if you have any liability for the accident that led to your injuries, the court reduces your settlement by your percentage of fault. For instance, if you are assigned 25% of the fault, you receive 75% of the total settlement awarded. Hiring a lawyer to fight for you may improve your chances of receiving just compensation.
Drunk Driving Accident Lawyers Who Fight for You
If you’ve been injured in an impaired driver accident, you don’t need to travel this difficult road alone. The attorneys at Cellino Law Firm are here to help you navigate the insurance and legal landscape. We don’t charge an upfront fee, and we don’t get paid unless we win your case. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.