When a person gets behind the wheel of a car while impaired by alcohol or drugs, they are putting themselves and everyone else in danger. Drunk driving is not only a crime but also a very obvious display of a lack of concern for safety. Drunk driving accidents can result in serious injury, or worse. Operating a vehicle requires concentration, motor skills, and judgement all working together. Alcohol or drug impairment can affect a person's judgement and, if severe enough, their motor functions. This can lead to catastrophic accidents. Drunk driving is outlawed nationwide for this very reason.
Across New York, drunk driving accidents were responsible for a total of 7,849 reported crashes in 2014, according to the New York DMV. Of these, 270 were fatal, and nearly 4,000 were injury-causing. When a person gets behind the wheel of a vehicle when they are intoxicated, the risk for causing an accident significantly increases.
Cases Involving Impaired Drivers in New York
When a person is a victim of a drunk driver's carelessness, there is often a chance that they may be able to file a lawsuit as a response. Drunk driving is a crime, however, outside of the criminal realm, this act can potentially be considered an act of negligence, as it violates a person's duty of care for themselves and their fellow drivers on the road. While choosing to drive while impaired is an immense display of a lack of concern, oftentimes the drunk driving accident is a result of several errors, such as an alcohol establishment allowing its patrons to drive away.
Common Injuries in Impaired Driving Accidents in New York
Drunk driving can cause a number of injuries to anyone caught in the collision. Some commonly seen injuries in drunk driving accidents can include:
- Traumatic Injuries: A traumatic injury is one that places a person's life in immediate danger. These can include traumatic brain injuries as well. These types of injuries often require immediate emergency care and may have lasting effects. Drunk driving collisions at extremely high speeds can cause these injuries to occur.
- Serious Injuries: A serious injury can include broken bones, sprains, bruising and the like. These injuries are painful and may place a person in danger, but not to the same degree as a traumatic injury. These types of injuries are common to any type of vehicle accident.
- Permanent and Debilitating Injuries: A person may suffer a permanent or debilitating injury in a drunk driving accident. These are very serious injuries that either cannot fully heal or permanently disable a person's abilities.
- Death: An unfortunate reality of drunk driving accidents, and vehicle accidents in general is that a person can potentially lose their life during the impact or aftermath.
These events are often enough for a person to file a case against a drunk driver. These cases can either be filed for personal injury or for wrongful death.
Damages Commonly Claimed in Impaired Driving Accidents in New York
When a person chooses to file a claim regarding a drunk driving accident, they will be known as the "plaintiff" in court. The person or entity they are filing a claim against will be known as the "defendant." In a case, the plaintiff will demand compensation for "damages." Damages is a broad term for monetary awards that are claimed in court. Common damages in drunk driving accidents can include:
- Medical Costs: In any accident where a person is injured, they are likely to at the very least have a doctors visit. In drunk driving cases, the likelihood of more severe injuries is significantly higher. This means that a person will face much higher medical bills.
- Funeral Costs: If a person loses their life in a drunk driving accident, their family will be forced to hold a funeral service and deal with all of its associated costs. For a wrongful death claim, the surviving family may claim funeral costs.
- Property Loss/Damage: Drunk driving accidents are likely to total or at the very least, severely damage a car. A person may claim the replacement or repair of their vehicle as part of their damages.
- Loss of Income: In a wrongful death case, the deceased may have been a key support person for the family. A family may be able to claim the lost income that would have been earned had it not been for the accident.
- Non-economic Damages: Certain damages may be claimed that are not measurable in economic terms. This can include things like pain and suffering, mental anguish, and other similar forms of harm. Non-economic damages can also be assigned in the form of court-mandated obligations for the defendant as well, such as a bar needing to ensure their patrons do not drive home.
- Punitive Damages: In cases of criminal acts or extreme wrong-doing, a person may wish to claim punitive damages against the defendant. These are meant to serve as a form of monetary punishment.
New York's Impaired Driving Laws
New York will charge a person criminally if they are pulled over, and their blood alcohol content is higher than .08% for an adult over 21 years, .04% for a driver of a commercial vehicle, and .02% for persons under the age of 21.
Is It Possible To Sue Someone Who Is Also Facing Criminal Charges?
While a defendant has a criminal case on-going, it is possible for their case to run concurrently with a civil case. Civil law is a separate area of law than a criminal case. While evidence for both of these matters may often be common with one another, a person who is found not guilty of a crime may still be held liable for an event.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident involving a drunk driver, contact attorney D'Orazio Peterson today.