Can Bars & Restaurants Be Held Liable For Drunk Driving Accidents?

Even though the dangers of drunk driving are well-known, motorists still drive drunk every day in Brooklyn and throughout NYC. Our personal injury lawyers help hold these drivers and the establishments who served them accountable.

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broken liquor glass and car keys

When an innocent person is injured or killed in an auto accident with a drunk driver, it’s important to demand accountability from the driver. In some cases, we must also look for accountability from the alcohol establishment that continued to serve the drunk driver after they’d become visibly intoxicated. In New York, drivers and businesses can both be held liable for economic and noneconomic damages suffered by drunk driving victims.

If you or someone you loved was seriously injured or killed by a drunk driver, our Brooklyn car accident lawyers are here to help you find answers and justice. A personal injury lawsuit can help provide financial support for the variety of damages related to your accident, including medical bills, lost wages, loss of earning potential, pain, suffering, and more. Additionally, dram shop lawsuits help demand more from the bars, restaurants, and other establishments.

New York’s Dram Shop Laws

New York is one of 43 states that allow injury victims to hold alcohol vendors liable for continuing to serve a visibly intoxicated person or someone who’s under the legal drinking age. Visible intoxication can be subjective, but bartenders have a duty to look for common signs of extreme drunkenness, such as slurred speech, bloodshot eyes, and difficulty standing, walking or sitting.

Alcohol vendors can also be held liable if, for example, a bartender serves a patron who’s only 19 years old without checking their ID, and that underage drinker later causes an accident which results in injuries or deaths.

Can You Sue A Drunk Driver In New York?

We’re all aware of the risks of drunk driving, but this doesn’t stop some reckless individuals from getting behind the wheel when they’d had too much to drink. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 3,752 people were killed by drunk drivers in the state of New York between 2003-2012.

If you’re thinking about filing a personal injury lawsuit against the drunk driver who injured or killed you or a loved one, it’s important to first understand New York’s “no-fault” insurance policy. In New York, your insurance company will cover property damage and medical expenses related to the accident, regardless of who was responsible for causing the accident. This means that you’re only permitted to file lawsuits in certain situations, including:

  • When medical bills and other economic damages exceed $50,000;
  • In cases of extreme pain and suffering, including significant disfigurement, broken bones, scarring, loss of the use of a body part, and other severe injuries
  • When the accident results in death, the victim’s family may sue for wrongful death

These no-fault rules make car accident personal injury claims more complicated than in many other states. In order to determine if you have grounds for a lawsuit against a drunk driver, you may need to discuss the details of your accident and injuries with an experienced New York City personal injury lawyer.

How Can Filing A Lawsuit Help?

While the $50,000 insurance limit may sound sufficient for covering car accident losses, these expenses add up quickly. Drunk driving accidents often involve speeding, head-on collisions, and other factors which result in more serious car accident injuries. The medical expenses alone can easily exceed $50,000 for severe injuries, not to mention the costs of property damage and the expenses families of fatal accident victims face.

Many victims of drunk drivers only secure the financial compensation they need after taking the matter to civil court. You’re permitted to hold drunk drivers accountable even if they’re already facing penalties in the criminal justice system. And if a negligent bartender or alcohol vendor continued to serve the drunk driver long after they’d had too much (or if they were underage), it’s important to hold the establishment accountable as well. As more victims take legal action, vendors throughout NYC and nationwide will be forced to be more attentive and cut drinkers off when they’d have too much.

Our Brooklyn car accident lawyers are proud to fight for the justice and financial support drunk driving victims and their families deserve. We can help you begin planning for your lawsuit today – just get in touch with us and learn more about your legal options in a free consultation.