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What Damages Can You Recover If You Were Injured by a Drunk Driver?

injured by a drunk driver

When drivers get behind the wheel under the influence of alcohol, they are putting everyone on the road at risk. While drunk driving results in criminal charges when the driver is pulled over or causes an accident, the driver may also face civil liability if an accident injures another person. If you were hurt in a car accident caused by a drunk driver, you may be entitled to pursue a personal injury action to recover compensation for the resulting damages.

Economic Damages

If you were in a car crash caused by a drunk driver, you may have suffered severe injuries. If you sustained what New York Insurance Law defines as a “serious injury,” you may be able to recover compensation above the no-fault threshold. Recoverable economic damages in a drunk driving accident can include the following:

  • Past medical bills — Victims of drunk driving accidents often require extensive medical treatment, surgery, physical rehabilitation, and long-term care. Unreimbursed medical costs may be compensated as part of an economic damages award.  
  • Future medical expenses — In many cases, a victim who was injured in a car crash might need costly ongoing medical care, future surgeries, assistive medical equipment, and future treatment.  
  • Out-of-pocket costs — Reasonable and necessary out-of-pocket expenses for things like prescriptions, medication, transportation to medical appointments, and the cost of medical equipment may be recovered in a personal injury lawsuit.
  • Lost wages — A victim of a drunk driving accident may lose a significant amount of time from work while they are recovering from their injuries. Although no-fault insurance provides up to a certain amount of lost wages, it usually doesn’t cover the full extent of a victim’s losses. Lost wages that were not covered by no-fault may be obtained by filing a personal injury action.
  • Future lost earnings — In many cases, a drunk driving crash may result in injuries that reduce the victim’s ability to be employed or earn a living. The future income the victim would have earned, prior to the accident, may be awarded.

Additionally, the damage to a victim’s vehicle may be considerable after a drunk driving accident. In some cases, it might even be destroyed. You may be able to recover the costs associated with repairing or replacing it. 

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages often comprise the largest portion of recovery in a personal injury action. Where economic damages are easily calculated, non-economic damages are not pecuniary in nature — and they can be much more difficult to quantify. This category of damages allows a victim to recover monetary compensation for the physical pain and mental suffering they experienced due to the drunk driving accident-related injuries.  

An award of non-economic damages considers the day-to-day impact of a victim’s accident-related injuries on their life. It covers a broad spectrum of non-monetary losses, including loss of enjoyment of life, disfigurement, embarrassment, mental anguish, inconvenience, and loss of consortium. A court might consider various factors in determining an appropriate award, including the restrictions and limitations suffered by a victim, how the injury affects their relationship with loved ones, and the victim’s ability to sleep.

Punitive Damages 

Under New York law, punitive damages are available in limited cases where the defendant’s conduct was particularly reckless or egregious, such as when a driver operates a vehicle while intoxicated. This category of damages is not to compensate the victim for the harm they suffered, but rather it is meant to punish the defendant and deter others from engaging in similar conduct. 

Punitive damages are not available by settling a case with the insurance company — they can only be obtained when a case is brought to trial. To be awarded punitive damages, a plaintiff must demonstrate to the jury that the defendant’s conduct was “willful and wanton,” and they displayed a disregard for the safety of others. While punitive damages can be challenging to obtain in other types of personal injury actions, victims of drunk driving accidents usually have a strong claim for them.

Contact an Experienced New York Personal Injury Attorney

If you were injured in a drunk driving accident, it’s important to have a skilled personal injury attorney by your side to pursue the compensation you deserve. The attorneys at the Dearie Law Firm, P.C. are committed to advocating for the rights of victims injured by another’s negligence or recklessness and we fight to secure the maximum recovery available in each client’s unique case.    

The Dearie Law Firm, P.C. has convenient office locations in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the Bronx, as well as mobile locations serving Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, the Bronx, Staten Island, Westchester County, Rockland County, Nassau County, and Suffolk County. Contact us today for a consultation.