What Compensation is Available After a Drunk Driving Crash in New York?

man holding a bottle, drunk driving

When drivers choose to drink and drive in New York, they put everyone at risk. Alcohol significantly impairs both judgment and motor coordination, increasing the chances of a drunk driving accident exponentially. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), even drivers with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.02 ― well below the legal limit ― can show signs of impairment that adversely affect driving ability.

New York law allows injured victims to seek compensation after a car accident with a drunk driver. A highly skilled car accident lawyer from Finz & Finz, P.C. will help you pursue the money you deserve to compensate you for your economic and non-economic damages after being the victim of a drunk driving accident. We are a third-generation personal injury law firm with a track record of recovering more than $1 billion in compensation for our clients. There’s a reason why so many New Yorkers have turned to our attorneys for help. Get the top-tier representation you deserve by contacting us for a free initial consultation.

Economic and Non-Economic Damages

A drunk driving accident often results in painful injuries and significant financial losses. Victims can seek compensation, or “damages,” for their losses through a personal injury claim.

There are two broad categories of compensation in a drunk driving accident claim. They include:

Economic damages

Economic damages are the financial costs that stem from a drunk driving accident. All injury crashes can be expensive, but the right drunk driving lawyer can help you recover compensation for these costs. A drunk driving victim can potentially recover money for economic damages such as:

● Medical bills — This includes expenses such as the cost of doctor’s appointments, hospitalization, surgical procedures, lab tests, imaging tests, prescription medications, and the cost of traveling to and from your appointments.

● Lost wages — A drunk driving accident might cause you to miss weeks or months of work while you heal. That can add up to a substantial reduction in your income, but a successful legal claim can allow you to recover compensation for lost earnings.

● Reduced earning potential — Some car accident injuries leave victims with long-term or permanent physical disabilities. Depending on the victim’s age, they might not be able to work for as many years as they otherwise would have, or they might be relegated to a job that does not provide the same level of income as the job they could have obtained if it wasn’t for the accident. Compensation is possible for this reduction in your future earning capacity.

● Property damage — Your car may be destroyed after a drunk driving collision. The cost to repair or replace a totaled vehicle can be steep. In addition, you may also have had other valuable property damaged in the crash. You can pursue compensation for the value of whatever personal property is damaged or lost.

Non-economic damages

Not all of the victim’s losses in a car accident have a specific dollar value. These are referred to as non-economic damages. While these losses are harder to substantiate, they can have a lasting impact on the victim’s life. Examples of non-economic damages include:

Pain and suffering — Broken bones, severe lacerations, internal organ injuries, head trauma, and other injuries from a drunk driving accident can be excruciatingly painful. In some cases, the pain is so severe that it limits a victim’s daily activities and diminishes their quality of life forever. A proven Long Island car accident lawyer can help you demand compensation for your pain and suffering after a crash.

● Emotional distress — An often-overlooked effect of drunk driving accidents is the toll they can take on victims’ mental health. Anxiety, depression, nightmares, flashbacks, insomnia, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are examples of the debilitating psychological side effects of a collision. With help from a drunk driving accident attorney, you can claim compensation for the mental health impact the crash has had on your life.

Are Punitive Damages Also Available for Drunk Driving Victims?

Punitive damages are a separate category of compensation that can be awarded in some drunk driving accident cases. While most of the compensation you recover after an accident is meant to help restore what you’ve lost, punitive damages are awarded in cases where a defendant acted in an egregious reckless or negligent manner. The idea behind punitive damages is that by making the defendant pay additional compensation, the court can punish them for their actions. Punitive damages can also serve as a deterrent to future bad actors.

However, a few things must happen before you can recover punitive damages in a drunk driving accident case. First, you have to take your case to trial. Punitive damages are not possible in an insurance settlement, so bear that in mind before you settle out of court.

Second, you have to demonstrate that the drunk driver was negligent to the degree that their conduct qualifies as “willful and wanton.” In other words, you must prove that the driver acted with intentional negligence or that they displayed egregious disregard for the rights and safety of others.

While punitive damages can be challenging to recover, drunk driving accident victims can usually make a strong case. An impaired driver knowingly breaks the law when they get behind the wheel, which shows intent. Drunk driving also puts impaired drivers and others in extreme danger, seen as egregious negligence. A New York City car accident lawyer can tell you whether your case may qualify for punitive damages.

Contact a New York DUI Accident Victim Lawyer Today

The drunk driving accident lawyers at Finz & Finz, P.C. are committed to helping crash victims recover maximum compensation for their injuries. With years of legal experience and a reputation for excellence, you can count on our battle-tested attorneys to fight for every dollar you deserve. Call or contact us now for a free consultation.

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Finz & Finz, P.C. is a New York and Long Island personal injury law firm based out of Mineola, NY. It was founded in 1984 and is highly rated, with many honors and awards of excellence.