While all US states make it a criminal offense to drive while under the influence of alcohol, DUI crashes still lead to more than 10,000 fatalities nationwide every year. The problem hits close to home as well, based upon New York State Motor Vehicle Crash Data. Statistics indicate that, in 2018, there were 9,429 total car accidents involving a drunk driver. Almost 300 of these incidents killed at least one person, while another 3,712 caused injuries to victims.
If you were hurt or lost a loved one due to a DUI collision, knowing the responsible driver faces harsh penalties may provide some closure. However, a criminal conviction will not affect the financial implications or alleviate your pain and suffering. Fortunately, there are options that allow you to seek compensation for your losses, and a New York drunk driving accidents lawyer can assist with the legal process. You might also find it helpful to review some of the basics about DUI crashes.
Victims’ Remedies Through a Civil Claim: A motorist faces multiple penalties for being convicted of driving while intoxicated in New York, including a maximum of one year in jail, a fine ranging from $1,000 to $2,500, and a driver’s license suspension of 12 months. However, these sanctions are imposed through the New York Department of Motor Vehicles and the criminal justice system. A criminal case is separate from your legal remedies as the victim of a DUI crash, which are civil in nature.
The distinction between the proceedings is critical, since your burden of proof in a civil court is lower than the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard in criminal cases. You must prove that it is more likely than not that the responsible driver was careless and/or reckless by drunk driving, and this negligence caused the DUI collision.
Damages Available in New York DUI Accident Claims: In a civil case, there are initial steps in seeking compensation for your losses before you actually go to court. Instead, you will usually file a claim with the responsible driver’s insurance company and attempt to work out a settlement. Dealing with insurers can be difficult, since their goal is to maximize profits. Your claim is a threat to the company’s financial interests, so you might encounter some challenges when attempting to negotiate a settlement.
When the insurer refuses to settle for a reasonable amount, it may be necessary to file a lawsuit to recover the compensation you deserve. Keep in mind that New York has a statute of limitations that requires you to initiate litigation within three years. The clock starts to run on the date of the DUI crash and continues throughout your dealings with the insurer, so you could lose your rights if you allow the statute of limitations to expire.
Whether in settlement discussions or in court, you may qualify for various types of monetary damages, including:
- Costs for medical treatment;
- Lost income, if your injuries prevented you from working;
- Pain and suffering;
- Emotional distress; and,
- Amounts for additional losses that impact your quality of life.
Speak to a New York Drunk Driving Accidents Attorney About Your Options
This summary of the key concepts in DUI collisions may be useful, but you put your rights at risk if you attempt to use the information to represent yourself. There are countless details, tasks, and rules related to the claims process, many of which could affect your interests. To ensure you obtain the full amount of compensation allowed by law, please contact The Mandel Law Firm. You can call our Manhattan office at (646) 770-3868 or go online to set up a free consultation.