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Drunk driving accidents in New York are a devastating and entirely preventable consequence of individuals that choose to get behind the wheel while impaired by alcohol. These accidents have far-reaching consequences, causing severe injuries, permanent disabilities, and even loss of life. In New York, the law takes a strong stance against drunk driving due to its inherent dangers and the potential harm it poses to innocent motorists, pedestrians, and passengers.

Have you or a loved one been injured in a drunk driving accident in New York? Dealing with the aftermath of such a traumatic event can be overwhelming, but you don't have to face it alone. Our team of drunk driving accident lawyers in New York City at the Law Offices of Michael S. Lamonsoff is dedicated to fighting for your rights, seeking justice, and obtaining the highest possible compensation you are entitled to.

Why Drunk Driving Often Causes Catastrophic Injuries or Wrongful Death?

Drunk driving in New York causes catastrophic injuries or wrongful death in many cases due to the significant impairment it inflicts on a driver's physical and cognitive abilities. Here are some key reasons why drunk driving can lead to catastrophic injuries or wrongful death:

  • Impaired Judgment: Alcohol impairs a driver's ability to make sound decisions and judgments. Intoxicated individuals may engage in reckless behavior such as speeding, aggressive driving, or disregarding traffic laws, increasing the likelihood of accidents.
  • Reduced Coordination and Reflexes: Alcohol affects a driver's coordination and motor skills, making it difficult to maintain control of the vehicle and respond quickly to unexpected situations. Impaired reflexes make it challenging to brake or swerve in time to avoid collisions.
  • Decreased Reaction Time: Alcohol slows down a driver's reaction time, impairing their ability to recognize and respond to hazards on the road promptly. This delayed reaction time can prevent drivers from taking evasive actions to avoid accidents.
  • Poor Vision and Perception: Alcohol affects vision and depth perception, making it difficult for intoxicated drivers to accurately judge distances, speeds, and the movement of other vehicles or pedestrians. Impaired vision can lead to failure to notice traffic signals, road signs, or pedestrians, increasing the risk of collisions.
  • Drowsiness and Fatigue: Alcohol can contribute to drowsiness and fatigue, further impairing a driver's alertness and increasing the likelihood of falling asleep at the wheel. Fatigue reduces concentration and attentiveness, significantly increasing the risk of accidents.
  • Increased Risk-Taking Behavior: Alcohol often leads to a false sense of confidence and reduced inhibitions, causing drivers to engage in risky behavior such as excessive speeding, running red lights, or driving recklessly. These actions significantly increase the chances of severe accidents and injuries.
  • Inaccurate Assessment of Impairment: Intoxicated drivers often overestimate their ability to drive safely, leading them to make poor choices and continue operating a vehicle despite their impairment.

Due to these factors, drunk driving accidents often involve high-speed collisions, head-on collisions, rollovers, and other severe types of accidents. The impact of such accidents can result in catastrophic injuries such as traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, internal organ damage, amputations, severe fractures, and disfigurement. In the worst cases, drunk driving accidents can lead to wrongful death, devastating families and loved ones.

Drink being poured into glass sitting next to car key

The "Serious Injury" Threshold in New York

The serious injury threshold is established in Section 5102(d) of the New York State Insurance Law. According to this law, a person can pursue a claim for non-economic damages if they have sustained a "serious injury" because of the accident. 

New York's serious injury threshold categorizes various types of injuries that qualify as "serious," including:

  • Death
  • Dismemberment
  • Significant disfigurement
  • Fractures
  • Loss of a fetus
  • Permanent loss or limitation of a body organ or member
  • Significant limitation of use of a body function or system
  • Medically determined injury or impairment of a non-permanent nature which prevents the injured person from performing substantially all of the material acts which constitute their usual and customary daily activities for not less than 90 days during the 180 days immediately following the accident.

It's important to note that meeting the "serious injury" threshold does not automatically guarantee a successful claim. The injured party still needs to establish that the accident was caused by the negligence or wrongful conduct of another party and provide evidence of the damages suffered.

What is the Dram Shop Law in New York and How Might it Factor into My Drunk Driving Injury Claim?

The Dram Shop law in New York holds certain establishments accountable for serving alcohol to individuals who are visibly intoxicated or to minors.

  • Liability of Establishments: Under the New York General Obligations Law Section 11-101, establishments such as bars, restaurants, clubs, taverns, and social hosts can be held liable for injuries caused by a visibly intoxicated person or a minor to whom they have served alcohol.
  • Visible Intoxication Standard: To establish liability under the Dram Shop law, it must be proven that the establishment served alcohol to a person who was visibly intoxicated. Visible intoxication refers to clear signs that a person's consumption of alcohol has significantly impaired their coordination, mental faculties, or judgment.
  • Prohibited Alcohol Service: The Dram Shop law prohibits establishments from serving alcohol to individuals who are visibly intoxicated. It is the responsibility of the establishment to monitor the behavior and appearance of their patrons and refrain from serving alcohol to those who exhibit signs of intoxication.
  • Liability for Minors: The Dram Shop law also holds establishments accountable for serving alcohol to minors (individuals under the legal drinking age). Establishments can be held liable if they served alcohol to a minor who subsequently causes injury to themselves or others due to alcohol consumption.

Impact of Dram Shop Law on Your Injury Claim in NYC 

If you were injured in a drunk driving accident in New York, the Dram Shop law may factor into your claim if there is evidence to support that an establishment served alcohol to the visibly intoxicated driver who caused the accident. By establishing that the establishment violated their duty of care, you may be able to hold them partially responsible for your injuries and seek compensation from them in addition to pursuing a claim against the intoxicated driver.

It's important to note that New York follows a comparative negligence system, which means that multiple parties may share liability for an accident. If both the establishment and the drunk driver contributed to the accident, our lawyers can pursue your claim against both to maximize the amount of compensation you can recover.

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