Drunk Driving Accidents
In an instant, the lives of those involved in a drunk driving accident may be permanently altered. In spite of a huge drunk driving campaign to educate drivers about the dangers of drunk driving, many people still get behind the wheel of a car after drinking alcoholic beverages. If you were seriously injured in a drunk driving accident, you may be able to recover damages through personal injury litigation against the driver who was intoxicated behind the wheel. Sometimes there is more than one source of recovery. In all cases, however, it is wise to consult a knowledgeable Syracuse drunk driving accident attorney about the viability of your claim as soon as possible, and certainly before talking to the insurance adjustor for the at-fault driver.Liability for Drunk Driving Accidents
If you are trying to obtain damages for a drunk driving accident, you will most likely need to prove the elements of negligence by a preponderance of the evidence. This means you'll need to prove: (1) the drunk driver owed you a duty of care, (2) the drunk driver breached the duty of care, (3) causation, and (4) actual damages. In many situations, a jury will find that a driver who drank before getting on the road breached the duty to use reasonable care, but that breach must also have caused the accident in which you were harmed. If there was a drunk driver, but you ran a red light while the drunk driver had the right of way and was otherwise obeying road rules, for example, there may not be a causal connection between the breach of the duty of care and your resulting injuries.
In New York, damages can be reduced by a plaintiff's comparative negligence. If a jury determines that you were partially to blame for an accident, it will assign both you and the defendant a percentage of responsibility, and your total damages will be reduced in proportion to your fault for the accident. A Syracuse lawyer experienced in drunk driving accident cases can help you determine how to address arguments of this nature.Dram Shop Liability
Dram shop liability may exist in New York where a drinking establishment such as a bar, pub, or tavern has served alcohol to someone who was already clearly intoxicated. Under section 11-101 of the New York General Obligations Law, it's illegal for businesses to provide alcohol to those who are visibly intoxicated. Some signs that might be used to establish there was visible intoxication include bloodshot eyes, lack of coordination or slurring. So, for example, if a bar served a drunk driver 10 shots of alcohol in a row, and then that driver T-boned your car, you may be able to sue the bar.Impact of Criminal Case
You may have a basis to recover damages even if the drunk driver was found not guilty in a criminal trial, and a skilled Syracuse drunk driving accident attorney can answer your questions on this topic. It's important to be aware that the standards of proof are different in criminal and civil cases. Criminal cases must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, while civil cases must be established by a preponderance of the evidence standard. The latter is a lower standard, such that even if a prosecutor can't establish drunk driving beyond a reasonable doubt, you may still be able to recover damages for injuries caused by drunk driving in a civil suit. However, findings in the criminal case can impact the civil case, so it is important to retain an attorney early on that can protect your interests for purposes of recovering damages in a civil suit.
Damages that may be recoverable after a drunk driving accident include economic and noneconomic losses such as medical bills, lost wages, loss of enjoyment, replacement services, and out-of-pocket costs. However, in a drunk driving case, there is also the possibility of recovering punitive damages, which are damages intended to punish the defendant and deter future similar misconduct.Drunk Driving Accident Attorneys Helping Victims in Syracuse
If you were harmed or a loved one was killed due to another's drunk driving, you may be able to sue for damages. DeFrancisco & Falgiatano represents drunk driving accident victims in Syracuse, Rochester, Lyons, Cooperstown, Canandaigua, Ithaca, Wampsville, Oswego, Watertown, Utica, Lowville, Oneida, Delhi, Herkimer, Norwich, Cortland, Oswego, Cooperstown, Ithaca, Binghamton, Auburn, and Elmira. Please call us at 315-479-9000 or contact us via our online form.