Staten Island Drunk Driver Injury Lawyer
Drunk driving is an alarming occurrence that happens too often on Staten Island roads, including the West Shore Expressway, Richmond Parkway, and the Staten Island Expressway. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 1.4% of people admit to driving after drinking too much alcohol. This number does not include all the people who drink and drive but are too afraid to admit it.
If you were hit by an impaired driver, speak with a Staten Island drunk driving accident lawyer with The O’Connor Law Firm today. Our capable attorneys will ensure you get the justice and compensation you deserve.
Drunk Driving in New York
Under New York criminal law, a person is considered to be “Driving Under the Influence” (DUI) when they operate a vehicle and:
- Their blood alcohol concentration is 0.08 or higher if 21 years or older
- Their blood alcohol concentration is 0.02 or higher if under the age of 21; or
- They are impaired by alcohol, regardless of their blood alcohol concentration
In short, a motorist is impaired when they are unable to drive their vehicle safely due to alcohol consumption. In addition to being a crime, drunk driving is also a tort. Anyone injured by a drunk driver can bring a lawsuit in civil court to seek damages for their injuries caused by the accident.
Drunk Drivers Cause Serious Injuries to Innocent People
One reason drunk driving accidents can have catastrophic consequences is the reckless nature of the accident. An intoxicated driver can be driving over the safe and prudent posted speed limit or veer into other lanes of traffic. In other cases, the intoxicated motorist can fall asleep and plows head-on into traffic or pedestrians.
Our Staten Island drunk driving accident lawyer has represented people who sustained injuries due to an intoxicated driver’s negligence, including:
- Head injuries. A passenger can slam their head on the window or against another occupant in the car. Head injuries can lead to bleeding inside the cranium, which is deadly if not treated immediately. A traumatic brain injury is another serious injury that can cause multiple impairments, such as difficulty talking, understanding, or walking.
- Fractures. At high speeds, occupants often fracture multiple bones, especially in their arms and hands. However, they can also fracture ribs, which can cause many complications, including the risk of pneumonia.
- Chest contusions. At high speeds, a chest strap can cut into a person’s chest, causing compression and the formation of a bruise. It is not unusual to suffer a bruise on the heart, which could prove deadly.
- Neck injuries. The vertebrae in the neck are called cervical vertebrae, and they could fracture in a serious accident. Pain, numbness, and possibly paralysis could result. Less serious neck injuries include pinched nerves or whiplash, which can also be debilitating and take months to recover from.
- Back injuries. A high-speed crash can damage the discs between the vertebrae or any soft tissue in the back, leading to a compressed nerve and pain. Back injuries are uniquely debilitating, and someone might not be able to sit or stand for months.
- Spinal cord injuries. Damage to the spinal cord can lead to permanent paralysis or impaired sensation. Some injuries will improve with surgery and/or rehab, but many do not.
Steps to Take Following a Staten Island Drunk Driving Accident
If you were involved in an accident, especially if you believe an intoxicated driver may be to blame:
- Call 9-1-1 if you or anyone else at the scene of the wreck is badly injured.
- Exchange insurance and personal information with all drivers involved in the crash.
- Tell the officer who arrives at the crash that you suspect the other driver is intoxicated. Maybe you saw an open bottle or the driver’s speech was slurred. The officer can investigate.
- Speak to any eyewitnesses, including passengers in the cars. Request their contact information, such as a phone number or email.
- Take pictures of all vehicles involved in the wreck. You should also get pictures of any debris field or skid marks. Ideally, you will get a picture of all sides of every car involved, which shows the damage.
- Visit the hospital as soon as you finish at the accident scene. Tell the doctor you were involved in the crash and identify any symptoms.
- Return to the hospital if your condition worsens. Some people feel “fine” following an accident. In the ensuing days, however, they experience headaches or pain. Often, these injuries are connected to the trauma suffered in the crash.
Do not give a recorded statement to any insurance agent about the wreck or discuss the topic of fault with anyone until you speak with a drunk driving accident attorney in Staten Island.
Obtaining Compensation for a Drunk Driving Accident
An injured victim should not suffer financial damages when a drunk driver crashes into them. Instead, our clients should seek full compensation for all financial and non-financial losses. Let’s look at a few categories of damages we seek on behalf of our clients:
- Medical bills. A serious injury will probably require tests, hospital visits, doctor visits, and possibly surgery. Our clients might need to purchase prescription drugs to help with pain and often undergo grueling rehabilitation. Any reasonable medical expense should be compensated for, including ongoing medical care if you suffer a permanent injury.
- Property damage. The drunk driver should cover the cost of repairing your car or replacing it if it’s totaled. You might have also suffered other property damage, like a broken cell phone or glasses.
- Lost wages or self-employment income. Serious injuries can prevent even the most committed worker from returning to their job. Many clients lose out on months of income. And if injuries are permanent, they could lose out on future income for decades.
- Pain and suffering and other intangible losses. Bodily injuries cause discomfort and suffering above and beyond their financial losses. In some settlements, pain and suffering damages make up the majority of the compensation.
We also cannot forget to mention punitive damages. Drunk driving is an outrageous act and goes far beyond causing an accident because a person is momentarily careless. Punitive damages can punish a driver whose conduct was grossly negligent, and drunk driving should qualify in most cases. Our clients can keep punitive damages in addition to the compensatory damages listed above.
New York Dram Shop or Social Host Liability Claims
Drunk driving accident victims can also seek compensation from a third party who supplied alcohol to the intoxicated driver. This is called a “dram shop” claim. New York’s law allows victims to bring a dram shop claim if a bar, tavern, or other establishments:
- Provided alcohol to someone under age 21
- Provided alcohol to someone who was visibly intoxicated
For example, James might have had a BAC of .22 at the time of the wreck. He was drinking at a bar, which continued to serve him alcohol even though he was shouting and had bloodshot eyes—clear signs of intoxication. In this example, the bar could be legally liable to any victim injured in an accident with James as he drove home from the bar.
Social host liability is similar. A victim can sue anyone who supplies alcohol to someone under 21 or helps them obtain it. This could be an adult who hosts some high school students for a party and gives them beers. If a guest goes on to cause a crash, the host is liable.
Contact Our Staten Island Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer
The O’Connor Law Firm stands ready to assist anyone who was injured by a drunk driver. We provide a free consultation to discuss your rights and get you on the right track to securing the compensation you need. To start the process, please contact us today to set up a time to meet.