Intoxicated drivers are at fault for far too many serious and deadly auto accidents that occur in New York each year. Indeed, according to the New York State Police, “drunk drivers cause more than 17,000 deaths annually,” and approximately 30% of all deadly crashes in the state are related to alcohol consumption. Nonfatal injuries occur even more frequently as a result of intoxicated drivers, and the New York State Police reports that an injury linked to drunk driving occurs every two minutes, on average, in the state. Even if you believe you will never be harmed in a drunk driving accident because you take precautions, it is important to remember that many people who are injured or killed in intoxicated driving crashes are not the drunk drivers themselves. Researchers estimate that, over a lifetime, about 30% of Americans will be involved in a collision involving intoxication.
When a drunk driver causes injuries in a collision, how should you go about seeking financial compensation for your losses?
Filing a Car Accident Claim After a Drunk Driving Collision
Most people who are injured by a drunk driver will start the claims process by filing a no-fault insurance claim through their own personal injury protection (PIP) policy. Since New York is a no-fault state according to auto insurance laws, a person who is injured in a collision caused by an intoxicated driver cannot immediately file a lawsuit against that drunk driver even if fault and liability are clear. Instead, the claims process must begin with an auto insurance claim through the injured person’s own insurance.
When a drunk driver causes bodily injury in excess of the $50,000 available through no-fault insurance, the injured person will need to determine whether they are eligible for Additional PIP coverage (which would have been added onto their insurance policy). Once injuries exceed $50,000, the injured person may be able to sue the drunk driver to cover additional losses. In addition, the injured party may be able to sue the drunk driver if that injured person can prove that they meet the “serious injury” threshold required by New York law in order to file a lawsuit.
Filing a Drunk Driving Accident Lawsuit
Whether your damages exceed your PIP coverage or you have sustained a “serious injury” as it is defined by New York law, you could be eligible to sue the drunk driver who caused the collision in which you sustained injuries.
In addition to suing the drunk driver, it is important to work with a car accident lawyer who can help you to determine whether another party could be partially or fully liable for your injuries. For example, if the drunk driver became intoxicated at a bar and the bar continued to serve that person, the bar could also be liable. Likewise, if a drunk driver was served at a private residence and left the house, the private residence owner could bear some liability. This kind of liability may exist under New York “dram shop” laws, which can sometimes be known as “social host liability” laws.
Contact a New York Car Accident Attorney
If you need assistance filing a claim after injuries in a drunk driving crash, our New York auto accident lawyers can assist you. Contact Leitner Varughese Warywoda PLLC today.