Will a Drunk Driver’s Conviction Help Your Car Accident Case in New York City?
Drunk driving is responsible for some of the worst accidents in New York City. Drunk drivers often experience impaired motor skills, poor vision, and diminished decision-making abilities.
However, a drunk driver’s conviction could help you in your civil lawsuit to recover damages. The standard to convict a defendant in criminal court is higher than in civil court, so the chances of recovery are good if the driver was convicted in their criminal matter. Fortunately, you can still sue even if the driver was not charged with drunk driving.
After being injured by a drunk driver, our New York City car accident lawyers can determine how their conviction can help your case. Contact our team at The Carrion Law Firm by calling (718) 841-0083 for a free review of your case.
Can a Drunk Driver’s Conviction Help My Car Accident Case in New York City?
If you were injured by a drunk driver in New York City, there is a good chance the driver will face criminal prosecution. However, drivers facing a conviction for drunk driving can also be sued in civil court for negligence. A drunk driver’s conviction can help your civil suit in several ways that could increase the amount of compensation you recover.
A person getting convicted of drunk driving is a very good indicator of the likelihood of success in your civil lawsuit. The burden of proof in a criminal case is “beyond a reasonable doubt,” much higher than the standard used in civil court, which is a “preponderance of the evidence,” or more likely than not. This means there was very good evidence of the driver’s guilt if convicted. The same evidence used in the criminal matter would be used in the civil suit, so the chances of recovering compensation will be high. Remember, you only need to prove that your injuries were more likely than not caused by the drunk driver to recover damages in a civil lawsuit.
While a conviction will no doubt strengthen your lawsuit, you will still need to prove your negligence case. Evidence of the negligent driver’s conviction will be part of that, but you will need to provide additional evidence to prove that the drunk driving, in fact, caused your injuries. This includes submitting evidence of your injuries and evidence that the driver was drunk when the accident occurred. Again, much of this evidence has likely already been gathered if there was a criminal prosecution beforehand. Our New York City personal injury attorneys can help you gather the evidence you need to show that drunk driving caused your injuries.
What If a Drunk Driver is Not Convicted for My New York City Car Accident?
The good news is that a drunk driver’s conviction has no bearing on your right to file a civil lawsuit. Even if the driver is not convicted of drunk driving, that does not mean there is insufficient proof to show they drove negligently. However, if they accept a plea deal from the prosecution, that typically counts the same as if they were convicted in court since the defendant must admit guilt as part of a plea bargain.
Regardless of a criminal prosecution, your car insurance will usually cover your economic losses after a car accident. However, you might have serious damages after a drunk driving accident. In New York, you can file a lawsuit against a negligent driver if you suffered serious injuries or your damages are over $50,000. According to I.S.C. Law § 5102(d), an injury is serious if it involves any one of the following conditions:
- Significant disfigurement
- Loss of a fetus
- Permanent loss of use of a body organ, function, or system
- Permanent or significant limitation of use of a body organ, function, or system
- Injuries that prevent you from performing your usual daily activities for at least 90 days
If your accident resulted in any of the listed injuries, you can sue the negligent driver even if they faced no criminal penalties for their conduct. Our Staten Island personal injury attorneys can help you with your recovery efforts and determine if filing a lawsuit is the right option for your case.
Do I Need to Wait for a Drunk Driver to be Convicted Before Filing a Car Accident Lawsuit in New York City?
If the drunk driver that injured you is being prosecuted, you might wonder if you must wait for it to conclude before filing your civil case. Fortunately, New York does not prevent victims from filing a lawsuit while the drunk driver’s prosecution proceeds. It is understood that you need to collect evidence quickly, and memories and proof of injuries can fade over time. Thus, it would be best if you began your lawsuit as soon as possible. Our personal injury attorneys can help you gather evidence and track the criminal case to see if it results in a conviction.
Can Anyone Else be Held Liable for a Drunk Driving Accident in New York City?
Drunk driving cases can be incredibly complex since other parties besides the driver could be liable for a victim’s injuries. In New York, individuals and businesses that enable drunk driving can also be held responsible for accidents caused after serving the driver.
The most common example is when alcohol vendors, like bars and restaurants, overserve a patron. Under New York’s “dram shop” laws, businesses can be held liable for a drunk driver if they sold alcohol to them while they were visibly intoxicated or if the person was actually or apparently under 21 years old.
Additionally, individuals that provide alcohol to minors that subsequently get into a drunk driving accident can be held liable under New York’s social host liability laws. Our Bronx personal injury lawyers can review your case to determine if anyone else should answer for your drunk driving injuries.
Our New York City Car Accident Attorneys Can Help
After a drunk driving accident in New York City, you can speak to our team at The Carrion Law Firm at (718) 841-0083 for the legal support you need. Our Brooklyn personal injury attorneys are ready to provide you with a free case assessment.