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.
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- Cellino Law is an amazing firm with a great team. I worked with Greg Pajak and his assistant, Tracey Falconer. I cannot express enough how dedicated they are. The personal attention I received was excellent; they were always available to help with questions and concerns and put me at ease in the unknown territory I found myself in. I highly recommend them to anyone needing representation. A huge thank you to them for all they accomplished for me!
- This is to express our gratitude to you and your team in helping us and Stephanie navigate through the legal process following her car accident. We are very satisfied with the outcome and grateful for your hard work and attention to details. We fell confident that with this compensation, Stephanie will be able to move forward with her studies and her life with the ability to care for some of her health needs resulting from the injuries sustained following her car accident. Thank you very much and may God continue to bless your efforts.
Jose & Rose
- Cellino Law and more specifically my attorney, Gregory V. Pajak, Managing Attorney, and as a whole the Cellino Law Firm and its organization. This is by far one of the most professional law firms and attorney I have ever engaged with and retained in my 35 years. The level of professionalism goes beyond words, the care and constant engagement with me as the client was touching. I was never ever just treated as simply a CASE with potentially a significant dollar number attached to my file. I was engaged regularly, Tracey (Ass’t) and Greg always made sure to remain constant, as well as consistent in overseeing that my case was handled properly and that it did matter in many ways - ensuring that the end result(s) would be fair and reasonable to my case/injury. The regular follow-up calls were very satisfying, knowing that you’re involved in your case matters significantly AND always. One of my main items to recognize Cellino Law and Gregory is that whenever I called, I was able to get through to speak directly to my Lawyer and he would answer any if not all of my questions in a very professional and genuinely caring manner. I always felt cared for and protected legally and more importantly, I was made feel as a human being that was being cared for and always keeping me abreast of all matters connected to the case. There was never a point I felt let down, on the contrary -the level of service was “STELLAR”. Greg is the consummate professional, a ‘role model’, if you will, for what other attorneys should strive to become when dealing with their clients.
- Choosing the right attorney to represent you after an accident can make all the difference. This is no cliche. I recently experienced these words to live by first hand. After a tractor trailer rear ended me at high speed in 2017 I retained Allan Silverstein to handle my case. I quickly realized that bringing a lawsuit rapidly snowballs into a mountain of details that can make or break your results. Documents, case histories, doctor visits, bills, and lots of phone calls all need to be accurately kept track of if a successful outcome it to be attained. To complicate matters I reside in New York and the incident took place in New Jersey. Luckily, Allan was licensed in multiple states. I was fortunate to find Allan to handle this matter from the New York area. Armed with an accurate account of the facts Allan went to work on the difficult job of negotiating with the defending insurance company as well as my no fault carrier in order to obtain the best possible outcome for my set of circumstances. In a lawsuit communication is key and and events can be of a timely nature. Allan never failed to return my calls - usually the same day! He fought skillfully and respectfully to get me the best possible settlement. He is easy to deal with and a likeable down to earth guy. He always listened with compassion and respect to my issues. He guided me with objective understanding as well as a realistic analysis of the merits of my case. When we finally settled Allan got me a fair agreement beyond my expectations and negotiated with my doctors to make sure all my bills were paid. It was a great experience having Allan represent me. Quality work in any aspect of life is hard to find. Quality is what I got with Allan Silverstein. I highly recommend him if you find yourself in need of a personal injury attorney.
- Joe and I just wanted to send you this note thanking you for the professional way you handled our lawsuit. Your kindness was extremely appreciated in a very difficult time. When we found out the people that caused the accident had no insurance, we thought our chances of receiving any settlement was nonexistent. Once we met with you and released you were able to help us our minds were put at ease. Your aggressive manner of handling the case exceeded our expectations. Please feel free to use us as a reference. Thank you so much and best wishes,
Danielle and Joe
- I want to thank your law firm for settling my lawsuit where others failed. You treated me with the utmost respect and care, because of your law firm the dream of owning my own home finally came true. For the first time in a long time, we're living out our dream home. Thank you a million times over. Thank you for making my dream come true.