If you have been hit by a drunk driver the first thing you should do is contact the authorities so that emergency help and police can be dispatched. The drunk driver should be questioned and apprehended if over the legal limit. Many people who have been injured due to the fault of a drunk driver are under the mistaken impression that this automatically entitles them to recovery for pain and suffering. In reality, the victim of a drunken driving accident still needs to prove the elements of a negligence claim. Those elements include fault, causality, and qualifying injury.
If you are struck a drunk driver it is usually relatively easy to prove that the accident was the fault of the drunk driver.
The second element is called proximate cause. Proximate cause means that it can be proven that the injuries sustained were the specific result of the car accident. If the injury victim has had prior injuries involving the same body part proximate cause may be called into question.
The element of a “qualifying injury” pertains to the severity of the injury sustained. Even if you can show that a drunk driver’s negligence caused an injury to you, you must still meet the “serious injury” threshold which will allow a personal injury action to be brought. Section 5102 of the New York State Insurance Law defines which types of injuries will qualify as “serious”. These include but are not limited to death, dismemberment, fracture, or permanent loss of a body organ, member, or system. The definition includes several other types of injuries that will qualify including one that prevents a person from performing their usual and customary daily activities for at least 90 of the first 180 days following the crash.
If you have been involved in a motor vehicle accident involving a drunk driver in the Albany/Schenectady/Troy/Capital Region of New York State, feel free to contact our office for a consultation regarding your injury rights.