Brooklyn has the second-highest rate of drunk driving crashes in New York, making it a hotbed of potential accidents and hazardous situations.
What happens after a drunk driving accident? What rights do you have? You may know that you deserve compensation for your injuries, but how should you go about seeking it?
If you suffered serious injuries in a drunk driving accident, an experienced Brooklyn drunk driving accident attorney can help. Contact Dolman Law Group at 833-552-7274 (833-55-CRASH) as soon after your accident as possible.
Dolman Law Group: We Get Auto Accident Results
Dolman Law Group has extensive experience managing drunk driving accident claims and helping victims who have suffered serious injuries seek the compensation they deserve following their accidents.
The results of past claims cannot guarantee the results you will experience in your drunk driving accident claim. By working with an experienced team of attorneys, however, you get the assurance that your case will be handled by a team that knows the legal system and will work hard to maximize the compensation you ultimately receive for your injuries.
The Aftermath of Brooklyn Drunk Driving Accidents
Drunk drivers struggle with a variety of challenges that can impact their driving. Many drunk drivers suffer from blurred or tunnel vision, which can make it difficult for them to see the other vehicles around them. Others may have trouble with impulse control.
Driving under the influence of alcohol can interfere with decision-making and reflexes. A drunk driver might, for example, struggle to slam on his brakes fast enough if the car in front of him stops abruptly, or might have trouble deciding which way to turn to avoid or minimize the impact of an accident. As a result of their inebriation, drunk drivers not only cause more accidents, they can worsen the severity of injuries suffered in an auto accident due to their inattention or lack of control over the vehicle.
Traumatic Brain Injury
In some auto accidents, the victim's head slams hard into the back of the seat, windshield, or steering wheel. As the head moves violently, the brain strikes the inside of the skull, resulting in severe bruising and swelling. Traumatic brain injury may cause a variety of symptoms: not just the loss of long-term memory or the loss of memories immediately surrounding the accident, but the loss of many processing skills and the skills needed to go through life every day.
Some victims, for example, struggle with the loss of short-term memory, which makes it difficult for them to know what to do next or to remember what tasks they just completed. Others may have trouble with focus and concentration, leaving them struggling to complete minor tasks or to keep their attention on the person they're talking to. Traumatic brain injury can also cause severe struggles with emotional regulation, which can make it very difficult for victims to keep their cool.
Traumatic brain injury can make it difficult for many victims to handle their usual work responsibilities. It can prove extremely difficult to sit behind a desk for long periods, to deal with customers, or to manage creative tasks when dealing with the challenges associated with traumatic brain injury.
Traumatic brain injury may also interfere with the victim's leisure activities, especially if the victim enjoys hobbies like video games or crafting, which may require both creativity and attention to detail. In addition, some victims with traumatic brain injury struggle to maintain relationships as others around them have trouble understanding the difficulties they face every day.
Back and Neck Injuries
Many victims of auto accidents, including drunk driving accidents, suffer from severe back and neck pain immediately after the accident. Herniated discs or damage to the muscles around the spine can cause that pain to linger long after the initial accident.
Back and neck pain can make it difficult for victims to complete many of their daily tasks and activities. Some victims, for example, struggle to sit or stand. Moving around may temporarily alleviate some of the pain, but it may come back if the victim spends too much time on his feet. Back and neck pain can also restrict movement, severely interfering with both work tasks and leisure activities.
In severe cases, drunk driving accident victims may suffer from injuries to the spinal cord. Complete spinal cord injuries, in which the spinal cord severs completely, can leave the victim paralyzed below the site of the injury. This may also result in a loss of sensation below the site of the injury. Victims may need to use a wheelchair to get around. When the injury occurs high on the spinal cord, victims may lose the ability to move their hands and arms as well as their legs.
Incomplete spinal cord injuries, in which the spinal cord suffers damage but does not sever completely, can also result in decreased mobility, though they may not end in full paralysis. Often, victims with incomplete spinal cord injuries make some progress in the months following the accident, regaining some mobility and function.
Sometimes, cars can burst into flame following an accident. Often, these flames result in severe burn injuries. Doctors grade burns based on their severity: first degree burns only involve the first layer of the skin, while third degree burns may go into the muscle and tissue beneath the skin, causing long-term suffering and severe scarring. Victims with burns may have a long recovery ahead of them. Often, severe burn victims may need to spend time in a special burn unit, which remains as sterile as possible to help reduce the risk of infection. Even with careful treatment, burn victims may suffer from scarring that permanently changes their appearance.
Sometimes, the force of an accident completely severs a limb from the victim's body. More commonly, the victim may suffer severe crushing damage that cuts off blood flow to the limb or causes such severe damage that the victim has a better chance of recovery if doctors remove the limb. Amputation permanently removes the patient's limb from his body.
Amputees must learn how to cope with their new limitations. Following hand or arm amputation, victims may need to learn how to perform tasks with a single hand, and they may lack the ability to complete some of the tasks that they once handled with ease. Victims who suffer leg amputation may need to use a wheelchair to get around, or may need to use a prosthetic limb.
While prosthetics can increase mobility and make it easier for victims to handle daily tasks, they can also pose an ongoing expense: the average prosthetic needs replacement every three to five years, depending on how heavily the victim uses the device and its technological complexity.
Many victims suffer severely broken bones that can result in long-term challenges. A single broken bone can lead to a six to eight week recovery time before victims can resume their normal activities. Multiple broken bones can cause additional complications for the victim, who may need assistance with basic self-care tasks until the broken bone heals.
In many cases, victims with multiple broken bones cannot return to work immediately, especially in their usual capacity. For example, a victim with broken bones in both hands or arms may struggle to sit behind a desk and complete any computer-related tasks. Broken bones in the legs can make it difficult for victims to walk around or stand in the course of their daily job duties. Broken bones can cause ongoing complications, including pain that may last for the rest of the victim's life.
Seeking Compensation After a Brooklyn Drunk Driving Accident: The Basics
Talk to an experienced drunk driving accident attorney as soon after your Brooklyn drunk driving accident as possible to learn more about your legal right to compensation and how to maximize the compensation you ultimately receive for your injuries.
An attorney can help your drunk driving accident claim by:
- Giving you a full assessment of the compensation you deserve for your injuries.
- Providing you with a template of how your claim will likely proceed and what you need to know about it.
- Negotiating on your behalf, providing immense peace of mind during the claim process.
Many drunk driving accident victims find that working with an attorney increases the compensation they ultimately receive for their injuries. Most insurance companies will take the victim more seriously and provide additional communication or an increased compensation offer just by knowing that they work with an attorney.
Determining the Compensation You Deserve After a Brooklyn Drunk Driving Accident
An attorney cannot guarantee the compensation you will receive for a Brooklyn drunk driving accident. However, an attorney can help you put together a drunk driving accident claim that contains compensation for all the losses you faced as a result of your drunk driving accident. Keep in mind that the compensation you ultimately receive may depend on the insurance policy that covers the drunk driver and its limitations. Your drunk driving claim will usually include several clear elements.
Medical expenses related to your injuries. Because of the severity often associated with drunk driving accident injuries, you may have high, ongoing medical bills that will help cover the cost of treatment for your injuries.
Your medical expenses may include:
- Emergency transport
- Treatment in the emergency room
- Surgeries and procedures to treat your injuries
- Durable medical equipment, including items like wheelchairs and prosthetics
- In-home care, if needed
- Physical therapy
- Occupational therapy
- Psychological therapy
Try to keep track of your medical expenses as you move through your recovery so that you can more easily detail them in your drunk driving accident claim. The better you can define your injuries and expenses, the better you can prove your financial losses as a result of the accident. Keep in mind that you may receive more than one medical bill for the same procedure: for example, if you have to have surgery, you may receive a bill from both the anesthesiologist and the surgeon who performed your procedure.
Lost wages due to inability to work after your injuries. Not only can medical bills quickly begin climbing following your accident, you may find yourself with lost income due to your inability to work immediately following the accident. In the case of severe injuries, you might lack the ability to return to work at all: to handle work tasks or to spend a day in the office, especially if you have ongoing pain, confusion, or mobility difficulties.
Some employers will make modifications that make it possible for their employees to return on a limited basis after suffering from severe injuries. They might modify your usual job duties, allow you to take on different tasks, or even allow you to work from home while you recover, allowing you to generate a source of income during your recovery.
Other employers, on the other hand, will prefer that you wait until you make a full recovery before you return to work. In some cases, having you wait to return may fall under safety protocols: for example, you might not want to return to a construction site when you cannot walk safely.
You can include your lost wages as part of your drunk driving accident claim.
In addition to wages lost immediately after the accident, you should also talk to your attorney about:
- Sick time used to cover your absence
- Any personal days you took
- Time missed because you could only work part-time
- Hours lost due to follow-up procedures and therapies that occur during the workday
Compensation for your pain and suffering. In addition to compensation for your financial losses immediately following a Brooklyn drunk driving accident, you can claim compensation for your pain and suffering. While that compensation cannot restore lost function or eliminate your pain, it can help you rebuild your life after your accident. Talk to your attorney about the emotional suffering you faced following your accident as well as your physical losses.
For example, you might want to discuss your feelings of emotional distress related to the need to have someone else help you with common daily tasks, or you might include the loss of enjoyment of certain activities that you usually engage in regularly. Your attorney can help you determine how to calculate your pain and suffering with regards to your claim.
Determining Who Caused Your Brooklyn Drunk Driving Accident
To file a drunk driving accident claim, you need to establish who caused your drunk driving accident. Under typical circumstances, you may assume that the drunk driver bears all liability for the accident. In some cases, however, drunk drivers may share liability for your accident with other parties. Consider:
Did the driver cause your accident while on the clock? Commercial drivers, especially truck drivers, may share liability for a drunk driving accident with their employers, particularly if the driver's employer knew that he had a habit of driving while drunk or suspected his inebriation at the time of the accident, yet allowed him to drive anyway. Employers may also share liability if they push their drivers to violate the rules of the road, including speeding.
Did a mechanical failure contribute to the accident or the severity of an accident? A drunk driver might lack the ability to navigate a mechanical failure safely due to poor reflexes. A mechanical failure may also worsen the severity of an accident: brake failure, for example, can increase the speed at which a drunk driver strikes another vehicle.
In the case of mechanical failure, several others may share liability for the accident, depending on how it occurs:
- The owner of the vehicle
- The manufacturer of the vehicle
- A mechanic who recently worked on the vehicle
Talk to your attorney to learn more about who may have caused or contributed to your accident.
Brooklyn Drunk Driving Accident FAQ
Did you suffer serious injuries in a Brooklyn drunk driving accident? Do you have questions about your legal rights? Take a look at the FAQ below for answers.
1. What if the other driver did not receive a drunk driving conviction after an accident? Do I still have grounds to file a Brooklyn drunk driving accident claim?
A drunk driving conviction may show evidence that the driver chose to drive while inebriated, which can help establish that the other driver caused your accident. Often, that conviction can make it much easier to prove fault in your accident. However, even if the other driver did not receive a conviction, you may still have grounds for a drunk driving accident claim. Talk to an attorney to learn more about how a drunk driving conviction may impact your claim and what to do if you suspect the driver of driving while inebriated.
2. What should I do at the scene of an accident if I suspect the other driver of drinking and driving?
If you suspect the other driver of drinking and driving, notify the police when you give your statement about the accident. The police can then conduct a field test or a blood alcohol test that can determine whether the driver has a blood alcohol content over the legal limit.
Keep in mind that a person who behaves drunkenly at the scene of the accident may not necessarily suffer from inebriation. Several conditions can mimic the symptoms of drunkenness. For example, a diabetic suffering from extremely high blood sugar may slur his words, stumble around the scene, or struggle to keep his attention on the task at hand. Likewise, a traumatic brain injury may mimic many of the symptoms of drunken behavior. Let the police evaluate whether the other driver actually consumed alcohol.
3. Does the bar or restaurant that over-served the driver who hit me share liability for the Brooklyn drunk driving accident?
New York does have dram shop laws, which indicate that a bar or restaurant cannot sell alcohol to a visibly intoxicated individual. If a bar or restaurant does serve a driver who clearly shows signs of inebriation, or one who has notified the server that he plans to drive immediately after drinking a specific beverage, that facility may share liability for injuries caused by that driver. Contact an experienced drunk driving accident attorney to learn more about your legal right to compensation and who may share liability following a drunk driving accident.
4. How does the law define drunk driving in Brooklyn?
New York law defines drunk driving as driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) that measures more than 0.08. Most drivers process drinks out of their bloodstream at the rate of one per hour. A driver who has had more than one drink per hour and who gets behind the wheel may show clear signs of inebriation. However, even lower levels of alcohol consumption or lower levels of alcohol in the blood may cause the driver's skills behind the wheel to deteriorate significantly.
Even a BAC of 0.02, for example, can impact a driver's vision and decision-making skills, causing him to take chances that he might otherwise not take or making it more likely that he will make an error that results in an accident.
In your drunk driving accident claim, a driver's BAC does not determine whether you have grounds for compensation. You can file a drunk driving accident claim against any driver that causes injury as a result of negligent behavior on the road, including a driver that causes an injury due to any degree of alcohol consumption. However, the police will not convict a driver of drunk driving until the driver's BAC exceeds 0.08.
5. What should I do to protect myself after an accident with a Brooklyn drunk driving?
After an accident with a drunk driver, unless you have a reason to fear for your own safety or need to leave the scene immediately to seek medical attention, stay at the scene of the accident until help arrives. For accidents with severe property damage or severe injury, the police will need to make a report and collect evidence to establish who caused the accident.
Next, make sure that you seek medical attention, even if you suspect that you did not suffer severe injuries at the time of the accident. Often, the adrenaline from the accident can conceal the pain from even severe injuries. Often, a full medical evaluation can help uncover injuries that may otherwise escape your notice until much later. Prompt treatment can help improve your overall prognosis and increase your odds of making a full recovery.
In addition, medical attention can help provide a valuable record of exactly when your injuries occurred. Sometimes, insurance companies may try to claim that you did not suffer your injuries in the accident caused by the driver they cover. If your injuries occurred at another time, the insurance company does not bear liability for paying for your medical expenses. Going straight to the hospital or an urgent care facility can provide evidence of exactly when your injuries occurred, which may prove very valuable in your claim.
Finally, make sure that you contact a drunk driving accident attorney as soon after your accident as possible. An experienced drunk driving accident attorney in Brooklyn can help you understand your legal right to compensation following a serious accident, gather evidence on your behalf, and help you manage many of the tasks that go along with your drunk driving accident claim.
6. What if the insurance company offers me a settlement in my Brooklyn drunk driving accident claim? Should I take it?
Consult an experienced drunk driving accident attorney before accepting a settlement offer following a Brooklyn drunk driving accident. Many insurance companies will try to limit their financial liability as much as possible after an accident. Commonly, they will contact the victim of the accident and issue a settlement offer. The insurance representative may even pressure the victim to accept that offer quickly, claiming that it may go away if the victim does not accept it quickly. Rushed, worried about your mounting expenses, you might accept a settlement offer without taking the time to think it through.
Unfortunately, that settlement offer may not reflect the full compensation you need or deserve for your injuries. Often, by working with an attorney, you can get a better understanding of the compensation you need. This deeper understanding can help you determine when to accept a settlement offer and when you may want to continue to negotiate to improve the compensation you ultimately receive.
7. Will I have to go through two trials in a Brooklyn drunk driving accident case?
Often, drunk drivers face two sets of legal actions following an accident: a criminal trial, in which the driver faces legal consequences for breaking the law; and a civil proceeding, in which the driver or, in most cases, the driver's insurance company, will pay compensation for the injuries caused by the drunk driver.
These two proceedings remain entirely separate from one another. A conviction in the criminal trial does not necessarily mean that you will receive compensation for your losses or determine how much compensation you will receive, and your drunk driving accident claim does not determine the outcome of the criminal trial.
Most of the time, the civil proceedings associated with a drunk driving accident will not go to trial. Going to trial extends the time needed to settle a claim and can significantly increase the legal expenses faced by the drunk driver's insurance company. Typically, the insurance company does not want to take those measures, and will settle out of court to reduce the expense associated with the claim.
8. What if the drunk driver does not have auto insurance? Can I still file a Brooklyn drunk driving accident claim?
Sometimes, drunk drivers may not carry auto insurance. They may even have lost their insurance coverage due to previous drunk driving convictions. Sometimes, you can recover damages directly from the driver. In other cases, you may turn to your uninsured motorist policy to help you gain the compensation you need to help pay your medical bills. Talk to an attorney to learn more about how to handle a claim against a driver who does not carry insurance and who may not have the assets to pay for your losses.
9. How should I handle my medical bills after a Brooklyn drunk driving accident? Does the liable driver have to pay them?
While you can pursue compensation for the medical expenses you face due to a drunk driver's negligence through a drunk driving accident claim, the drunk driver will not have to pay your medical bills directly. Instead, you should make arrangements to handle your medical bills yourself, then seek compensation for your bills through a drunk driving accident claim.
Your medical insurance can provide valuable assistance in covering many of your medical bills after a serious accident. Talk to your insurance provider to learn more about what coverage you have and what assistance you can expect, including coverage for durable medical equipment, in-home care, and physical therapy.
If your medical insurance does not offer adequate compensation to help cover your medical expenses and you have medical bills coming due, you may want to have your attorney issue a letter of protection establishing your intent to pay once you receive compensation through a drunk driving accident claim.
Do You Need a Brooklyn Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer?
If you suffered serious injuries in a Brooklyn drunk driving accident, an attorney can help you understand the compensation you deserve. Contact Dolman Law Group today at 833-552-7274 (833-55-CRASH) to schedule a free consultation regarding your claim.