Who Can Be Held Liable in New York for Drunk Driving Accidents
Drunk driving crashes are some of the most dangerous auto accidents, often resulting in severe injury or death. Tragically, all drunk driving accidents are preventable as they are a direct consequence of the drunk driver’s negligence.
If you or a loved one have been the victim of a drunk driver, you are likely trying to make sense of this event and may be very angry to have fallen victim to the carelessness of another. You may also be facing financial burdens related to the accident, compromising your family’s financial security. In this case, a personal injury lawsuit allows you to fight for compensation as well as to provide some sense of closure and justice.
In a drunk driving accident, generally the most fault is placed upon the drunk driver as he or she was the one who chose to drive impaired. However, in some circumstances other parties can also be held liable for drunk driving accidents. A knowledgeable personal injury attorney can help you to establish which parties should be held liable in your case and get you the compensation that you deserve.
Let’s take a look at some of the parties who can potentially be sued if you are injured in a drunk driving accident.
As mentioned above, if you have been a victim of a drunk driving crash and the driver was arrested for a DWI or found to be otherwise impaired by alcohol (such as a blood test administered by a hospital if the driver was also injured), the driver should be held liable for damages resulting from the accident.
Drunk driver liability in New York may be different than in other states since New York is considered to be a “no-fault” state. No matter what the cause of the accident, if you suffer an injury, you should initially file a claim with your own insurance company (or the insurance company of the car you were in or the insurance company of the car that struck you as a pedestrian) for medical expenses and lost wages up to $50,000. Your compensation for pain and suffering and additional medical expenses / lost wages must be pursued in a lawsuit against the driver and owner of the negligent vehicle.
If you are involved in an accident and believe that the other driver may be intoxicated, it is important to take action at the scene of the accident if at all possible to establish the DWI by calling the police immediately.
Common signs of intoxication include:
- Smell of alcohol or attempt to conceal the odor such as by the use of breath spray.
- Attempt to conceal or dispose of alcohol containers.
- Slurred or incoherent speech.
- Use of eye drops.
- Attempt to switch places with passengers.
If you observe any of these signs, be sure to report them immediately to the 911 operator and to officers who came to the scene of the accident.
Regardless of the accident’s cause, it is important to gather evidence ,if you physically able to, establishing fault at the scene of the crash. This may be helpful in seeking compensation for injuries later on.
In some cases, a third party that provided excessive alcohol to the drunk driver may be held partially liable for any accident that results. Laws governing drinking establishment liability are known collectively as dram shop actions deriving from the historical fact that alcohol was previously sold by a unit known as a “dram.”
Dram shop actions are very fact specific and bound by strict legal principles so you must consult a knowledgeable personal injury attorney to explore the possibility of this type of case.
If you or a loved one has suffered injury in a drunk driving accident and you want to file a suit against the responsible parties, it is important that you act quickly. Reach out to our office now to start fighting for the compensation you deserve.
What If I Get Hurt in an Accident with an Uber or Lyft in NYC?
Whether parking is too expensive, you’re going out for a night of drinking, or you just don’t want to take the subway, there are lots of reasons to be thankful for rideshare apps like Uber and Lyft.
However, even though consumers have quickly made these apps household names, the logistics of how Uber, Lyft, and other rideshare apps work as transportation businesses are still being worked out. Cities have specific guidelines for taxi and limousine drivers that Lyft and Uber were able to avoid as they were gaining popularity. Now, New York Uber and Lyft drivers need to obtain a TLC license, but there are still some a number of complications. One of the biggest ones? The issue of insurance and what happens when a rideshare vehicle is involved in an accident.
On New Year’s Eve in 2013, a 6-year old pedestrian was killed by an Uber driver who was between fares. The lawsuit that ensued led to Uber creating a $1 million insurance policy that promised riders that they would be covered in case of an accident. Lyft quickly followed suit with a similar insurance policy.
Uber’s $1 million promise is nice, but there are still many questions surrounding what happens if you are involved in a rideshare auto accident. When does this insurance apply? What options do rideshare drivers have if they are in an accident between rides? What exactly does the insurance cover? How does New York’s no-fault insurance play in to the proceedings?
Below, we’re going to try to answer some of these questions.
Understanding How Accidents Involving Rideshare Vehicles Work
If you are a driver, passenger, cyclist, or pedestrian who suffers medical or economic damages due to an auto accident in New York, you qualify to receive up to $50,000 in medical bills/lost wages compensation through our state’s no-fault laws.
These laws, however, do not cover things such as pain and suffering. That requires you to file a separate bodily injury claim.
In order to receive either type of compensation, you will need to file a claim and battle insurers.
Who pays? It depends on whether you were a driver, passenger or pedestrian.
For Rideshare Drivers
Before you sign on to be an Uber driver in New York, you will have to get a specific TLC license as well as commercial insurance. Uber and Lyft drivers are independent contractors so it is important for drivers to be transparent with their insurance coverage and know what will be covered in case of an accident while driving for Uber or Lyft.
The insurance policy for Uber drivers is determined based on what the driver is doing when he/she gets into an accident. If the driver is in an accident while the app is turned off and the driver is not working, he/she will likely have to rely on personal insurance. This may also apply if the Uber app is on, but the driver hasn’t accepted any rides yet. If, for example, a passenger has just left the car and at the next red light the driver gets in an accident, the driver may have to rely on their personal insurance.
If the driver is on the way to pick up a passenger, they may need to use their personal insurance policy first though Uber does offers additional contingent liability coverage.
Lyft claims that it goes even further, offering an insurance policy if the driver has the app open but hasn’t yet matched with a passenger.
If an Uber driver is carrying passengers or a Lyft driver has accepted a ride, the $1 million insurance policy allegedly applies. Lyft drivers, however, still have to make a claim with their own personal insurance coverage before relying on the company’s $1 million coverage.
All of the above is subject to legal interpretation and is not at all black and white.
For Rideshare Passengers
Since the passenger is already in the car, the $1 million insurance coverage may apply. Even if you are comfortable with the coverage that you are offered, you should still treat the accident like any other. Get pictures of the damage and gather any witness testimony from pedestrians or drivers who saw the accident happen. Collect the names and license plate numbers of any involved drivers as well – including yours. You may be called as a witness to the case, so be ready to share your version of what happened.
If you are hit by a rideshare driver while walking, you may have to rely on the three-tier insurance structure of the company. Depending on the driver’s status, you may be able to file a claim with Uber or with the driver’s personal insurance.
As with passengers, it is crucial to get all of the important information about the car, the driver, and anything that could help you prove the driver’s negligence if you need to go to court. As stated above, there may be varying legal interpretations and it is not at all black and white.
For Other Drivers
Treat this as you would any other accident with another driver. Depending on the court’s or jury’s interpretation of the status of the rideshare driver at the time of the crash, you may end up going through the rideshare driver’s personal insurance or through the insurer for the rideshare company.
If You Have Been Involved in an Auto Accident
Before you hitch a ride with an Uber or Lyft, know what you are getting yourself into. Be aware when you are riding as a passenger and hold drivers accountable for adhering to the rules of the road.
Even though Uber and Lyft allegedly promise compensation after an accident, initially trying to get the money from these companies is not at all as easy as it seems and every situation is different. The interpretation of the law is usually a gray area. If you are in an auto accident and need guidance filing your claim and dealing with the insurance companies, reach out to a New York personal injury lawyer.
Where are the Most Dangerous Auto Accidents in New York City?
No one wants to get into an accident in the middle of New York City. With so many people, cyclists, and property squeezed into every single block, accidents run the risk of injuring multiple people and racking up a lot of property damage.
Whether you’re driving, walking, or biking around the city, there are probably some areas where you feel more comfortable and some that make you nervous. Maybe you even avoid some streets or neighborhoods for fear of an accident. But do your fears match up with the statistics? Where are the most dangerous areas for getting into a car accident in New York?
Most Dangerous Areas in NYC Spread out Throughout City
TimeOut and the New York City data portal have recorded and organized the list of car accidents that have occurred in the first few months of 2017. The data shows that from January 1-April 3, New York has already seen over 53,000 accidents (600 per day) that have injured over 13,000 people and killed 11.
Some of the areas with the most accidents include:
- Hope (and the rest of the West Bronx)
- Hunts Point
- Flatlands and Central Brooklyn
- Kips Bay
Most of these areas have something in common: they’re along the highway. So be extra careful when you’re on or near the highway – especially in these specific areas.
What Should You Do After a Car Accident?
Even if you travel safely and avoid areas with high rates of auto accidents, simply going out puts you at risk for getting injured. Because of this, it is important that you understand what you should do if you do get hurt.
Most people have a fairly intuitive understanding of the basics, but remembering the following tips can go a long way towards helping your claim and making the entire process go more smoothly.
Gather Thorough Evidence: Immediately after the accident, check to make sure everyone is safe and seek medical attention if necessary. If no one needs to head to the emergency room, the real work begins.
Collect evidence and record as much as you can about the car accident, from the road conditions to the testimony and contact information of witnesses who saw the incident take place. Having a full account of the accident from multiple sources will help later on when you are talking to your insurance provider – and if you need to go to court.
Begin to Track Expenses: Car accidents can rack up more bills than just trips to the hospital. If a car accident leaves you unable to work or drive, you may be able to receive compensation for those damages. Begin to keep a log of this information to provide to insurers or in court.
Report the Accident Promptly: Legal matters come with deadlines, even if you are busy seeking medical attention. Report the accident to your insurance company immediately. Delays may cause problems with getting your medical bills paid and lost wages reimbursed.
While your claim is being investigated, you may have to provide photos of your car (or bike or yourself), submit proof of medical attention or give other forms of evidence. This is where thorough documentation of the accident and its aftermath starts to pay off.
Remember That You Have Options after Negotiations
Accidents caused through the fault of others may entitle you to money damages for your pain and suffering and lost wages.
Want to learn more about receiving compensation after an auto accident? Talk to a New York personal injury lawyer.
About the Author:
Richard Bell is a personal injury lawyer serving the community in the five boroughs, Long Island and Westchester with offices in Manhattan and Queens. His extensive knowledge of personal injury (including construction accidents, medical malpractice, auto accidents and falldowns) has resulted in great success for many of his clients during the past 34 years. In addition to winning his clients millions of dollars from personal injury lawsuits, he has been awarded for his pro bono work and is passionate about educating citizens about voting rights.
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