Drinking and driving is a crime with potentially devastating results. The lack of control in someone who gets behind the wheel when intoxicated puts everyone else on the road in danger. Impaired driving accidents can lead to serious injuries and fatalities.
If an impaired driver is responsible for the accident that caused your injuries, you deserve fair compensation for damages. Depending on the extent of your injuries, your personal injury protection coverage may not be enough. A Manhattan drunk driving accident lawyer from Cellino Law can help you pursue a legal claim to recover economic and non-economic losses.
What Every Driver Needs To Know About Intoxicated Driving
Drunk driving accidents make up a high percentage of traffic collisions every year. In 2019, 10,142 people lost their lives on U.S. roads in accidents involving at least one alcohol-impaired driver. Impaired-driving accidents caused 28% of all car crash fatalities.
In New York State, alcohol contributes to more than 30% of fatal crashes annually. In Manhattan, alcohol contributed to 23 accidents in the first six months of 2022, while throughout N.Y.C., drunk drivers were involved in 164 collisions.
Drunk Driving Criminal Offense
New York considers it a crime to drive when intoxicated. The state has an implied consent law for chemical testing for alcohol. If law enforcement arrests a driver suspected of alcohol impairment, the driver must submit to a breath, urine, saliva or blood test.
It is not up to the driver to choose the test. Refusing a test does not let the driver off the hook for criminal charges but can result in additional penalties. New York establishes three levels of drunk driving:
- A blood-alcohol concentration of 0.05 to 0.07 is considered alcohol-impaired driving
- A 0.08 BAC or higher in motorists and 0.04 BAC or higher in commercial drivers is intoxicated driving
- A 0.18 or higher BAC is aggravated intoxicated driving
If another driver involved in the accident that caused your injuries was impaired or intoxicated, chemical tests or police officer testimony might be used to help prove liability. Criminal proceedings are separate from civil proceedings.
What You Need To Know About Personal Injury Lawsuits
If another driver was arrested for impaired or intoxicated driving, the criminal side of the judicial system handles that case. There will be another set of lawyers and court proceedings. If you pursue damages for injuries you sustained due to the decision of another driver to get behind the wheel after drinking, your case is a civil matter.
It’s up to you to determine whether to file a legal claim. A drunk driving accident claim is a type of personal injury case. As the claimant, the burden of proof rests with you. Proving liability involves the following components:
- Establishing the drunk driver owed you a duty of care
- Demonstrating that the impaired motorist violated that duty
- Proving that the negligent behavior caused or contributed to the accident
- Substantiating evidence that the accident caused your injuries
If the evidence supports your claim, you may be entitled to recover damages.
Understanding the Law
Statutes regulating personal injury legal claims impact the outcomes of your case. Even if there is overwhelming evidence corroborating your assertion of fault, whether you can file and how much of a settlement you receive primarily depends on three Consolidated Laws of New York.
Car Insurance Laws
New York law requires all motorists living in the state to have personal injury protection coverage on their auto insurance policy. In most cases, anyone involved in a traffic accident seeks compensation for medical expenses and lost wages from their own insurance provider. There are two potential issues with doing so in a drunk driving accident.
First, insurance is a business, and every company is in the business of turning as much of a profit as possible. Auto insurance providers are notorious for offering low-ball settlements that don’t fully compensate for their customers’ losses. If they can find a way to deny a claim, they will.
The second issue is that a basic PIP policy in New York only has a limit of $50,000. That amount is intended to cover medical expenses and lost wages. A serious drunk driving accident can result in injuries with damages that quickly exceed that limit. Furthermore, non-economic damages, such as emotional trauma, are never included in insurance coverage. The law permits the pursuit of a legal claim if your losses exceed coverage or you suffer non-economic harms. A Manhattan drunk driving accident lawyer can help you navigate a legal claim.
Statute of Limitations
A claim that meets the standards for filing a personal injury lawsuit is one law determining whether you can proceed with a legal claim. The other is the statute of limitations, rules that establish hard deadlines for initiating legal proceedings. New York’s statute of limitations for personal injury cases is three years from the accident. If you don’t file a lawsuit within this time, you lose your chance to pursue compensation with a legal claim.
It is advisable to discuss your case with a personal injury attorney as soon after your accident as possible. The lawyer evaluates the merits of your case and can offer legal advice on the best way to proceed. If you work with a Cellino Law drunk driving accident lawyer, your attorney helps you stay on top of deadlines.
Pure Comparative Fault Rule
The state’s pure comparative fault rule impacts your case outcomes. Establishing the drunk driver’s liability is necessary for determining whether you have a right to compensation. Still, your liability in the accident affects how much of the settlement award you receive.
In states that follow modified comparative fault rules, claimants forfeit the right to collect compensation if they are more than 50% at fault. However, in New York, you can recover damages even if you are 99% at fault.
Your percentage is directly related to your portion of the blame for the accident. If you are found to be 50% at fault, you recover half the award. If you hold 90% of the liability, you can receive 10% of the awarded damages.
Why You Might Benefit From a Manhattan Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer
Fault in a drunk driving accident may seem a foregone conclusion, but the reality is that these cases are often as complex as other car crash claims. More than one person can be at fault in a traffic accident, and defense attorneys use this to their client’s advantage. They do their best to heap as much of the blame in your corner as possible to lower their client’s liability and resultant financial obligations.
Cellino Law drunk driving accident attorneys understand the laws and can build a solid case, potentially improving your chance for a favorable outcome. Your attorney goes to bat for you during negotiations and in the courtroom if your case goes to trial. You can count on your lawyer to protect your rights and pursue your best interests.
Where You Can Go for a Trusted Personal Injury Attorney
At Cellino Law, we don’t hold back in pursuing fair compensation for our clients. If you sustained injuries in an accident due to a drunk driver’s negligence, we’re here to help. We provide personal attention and commitment to your case. Leave the legal work to us while you concentrate on the work of healing. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help or schedule a free case evaluation.