Originally published June 28, 2021. Updated August 16, 2023.
If you or a loved one suffered injuries in a car accident caused by a drunk driver, you probably have lots of medical bills, pain, stress, and missed paychecks from your recovery. Often, these costs exceed what your insurance covers.
To ensure you can afford the necessary medical care and keep your family housed and fed during this trying time, you may need to file a lawsuit for compensation against the driver who injured you. While proving they were drunk makes it easier to establish negligence, it is not necessary since you can also win your case through other methods.
Contact our firm to work with an experienced New York car accident attorney to get the compensation you deserve.
Understanding New York’s PIP Insurance Laws
In New York, all drivers must have basic liability insurance, which covers bodily injury of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident. Drivers must also carry insurance covering at least $10,000 of property damage and $50,000 of no-fault coverage.
This law reduces the need for lawsuits in minor accidents since injured persons can receive reimbursement from their own no-fault coverage without needing to first prove they weren’t at fault. However, for more serious accidents, many of which involve drunk drivers, your costs could quickly exceed the $50,000 limit. Injuries like traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord injuries from drunk driving crashes can cost hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars over a lifetime.
New York state law allows for personal injury lawsuits in these cases to ensure the victim receives enough money to pay for their damages and to compensate them for their pain and suffering and other non-economic damages. However, your lawyer needs to show that the other driver was negligent in some way to win your case. Driving drunk is negligent, but proving the driver was in that state can be difficult.
Building Your Case
Even if the police don’t issue a DUI or a ticket against the other driver, you can still file a lawsuit with the help of your Syracuse drunk driving accident attorney and prove the driver was negligent through other means.
To prove the driver that hit you was drunk, here are a few steps you can take:
Take Pictures and Videos:
If possible, take pictures and videos of the scene after the accident. Getting a video of the driver acting drunk or a picture of an open bottle of alcohol in their car can help prove they were drunk when they hit you.
Additionally, taking photos of the damage and your injuries at the scene can help prove when and how you received your injuries and their extent.
Call the Police:
If the police arrive at the scene and believe the other driver is intoxicated, they will perform a breathalyzer test. If the driver blows over the legal limit, you have proof that they were drunk when they hit you. Ask the police officers who respond to the crash for their contact information so you can request a copy of their report.
Look for Cameras:
If you have a dashcam, download and save the footage to several locations. This footage could show the driver speeding, swerving erratically, or breaking dangerously, all of which is negligent driving behavior, regardless of alcohol intake.
Additionally, look around the accident site for cameras. If you’re near an intersection, there may be a camera near the lights, or a local business might have surveillance cameras that captured the accident.
If the accident occurred in a neighborhood, a homeowner might have captured it on their video doorbell or home security cameras. Reach out to any potential video sources as soon as possible since many delete their recordings daily or weekly. If possible, ask around immediately after the accident and take down the contact information of anyone who provides you with video footage.
Look on Social Media:
If you don’t have proof from the scene that the driver was drunk, you may be able to show that they were at a bar or somewhere else that alcohol was served before the accident occurred. Your lawyer can investigate the driver’s social media accounts. If they posted photos or videos of themself drinking in the hours before the crash, you could use those images to boost your case.
Work With a Car Accident Attorney:
Consulting an experienced New York auto accident attorney like ours at Catalano Law is essential when filing a drunk driver lawsuit. Your lawyer will understand the complexities of proving negligence and be able to find expert witnesses who can help prove the driver who hit you was drunk and negligent the night of the accident.
Although the statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit in New York is three years from the date of injury, the sooner you file, the easier it is to collect evidence and the faster you receive your compensation.
Arrange a Free Consultation Today
At Catalano Law, we have extensive experience getting our clients compensation for their accidents, including those involving drunk drivers. With recent settlements reaching $3 million, you can count on us to fight for your right to compensation. Call us today to schedule a free consultation and learn how much you’re entitled to.