Can You Sue a Drunk Driver With No Insurance?

man sit in front of a car wheel with a bottle of whine in hands
Drunk Driving Accident I Greenberg & Stein P.C.

Driving under the influence of alcohol is with no doubt something very dangerous. Around 30% of all vehicle accidents are related to drunk driving. Car accidents can lead to very serious injuries and expensive medical bills. After a car crash, most people are concerned about the financial burden caused by the accident.

In the majority of cases, the insurance policies of the drivers involved are the ones that pay for the different economic losses related to the accident. But, what happens if the drunk driver has no insurance? Can I sue a drunk driver with no insurance? Fortunately, New York no-fault laws allow you to get compensation for your injuries by filing a claim with your own insurance company, even if the other driver has no insurance. Nonetheless, you can sue the drunk driver if you suffered a “serious injury” and you qualify to step out of the no-fault system.

Keep in mind that suing an uninsured drunk driver may not always be the best option. In some cases, the at-fault party is not able to pay the compensation amount and does not have any sufficient assets. In cases like these, you may want to look into other compensation options. Seeking legal counsel from an experienced drunk driving accident attorney is crucial. An attorney can review your case and help you decide what is the best course of action to get the compensation you deserve.

3 Ways to Claim Compensation if the Drunk Driver is Uninsured

These are some of the most common alternatives to receive compensation for your losses.

1st Way: Your own Uninsured Motorist Coverage

The first thing you need to know is that New York is a no-fault state. In New York, all drivers are required to carry Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance. This means that even if the other driver has no insurance, you must first file a claim with your insurance provider to get compensation for your losses, regardless of who was at fault. Your no-fault insurance will cover your medical expenses, a portion of your lost wages, and other out-of-pocket expenses. Unfortunately, there are cases in which your PIP insurance coverage is not enough to pay for your medical expenditures. On the other hand, all drivers in New York are required to carry at least $25,000 in coverage for uninsured motorist bodily injury per person and $50,000 in uninsured motorist bodily injury per accident. This means that if your medical expenses exceed your personal injury protection coverage, your uninsured coverage can pay for the exceeding amount, as long as it is within your policy limits.

What if You were hit by an Uninsured driver but the car is insured?

You may also see yourself involved in a situation in which the drunk driver has no insurance but the car is insured by someone else’s policy. In this case, you may be able to file a claim with that insurance company to get compensation for your losses. There are a few exceptions to this scenario. For example, if the driver had no permission to drive the car or if there are any policies that exclude the driver from being covered in case of an accident.

2nd Way: Suing The At-Fault Drunk Driver

The second way to pursue compensation for your injuries is by filing a lawsuit against the drunk driver. Nevertheless, you can only opt for this alternative if you suffered a serious injury and you are able to step out of the no-fault system.

Do You Satisfy The Serious Injury Threshold?

Broken bones, significant disfigurement, loss of a bodily organ or system, reduced use of a bodily organ or system or the loss of a fetus are considered serious injuries. If you suffered any of these injuries, you can sue the drunk driver.

One of the main advantages of filing a lawsuit is that you can not only recover compensation for all your lost wages and medical bills, but you can also get compensation for noneconomic damages. Noneconomic damages such as pain and suffering, mental anguish, among others, can represent a significant portion of the full compensation amount. Depending on the severity of the accident and the actions of the drunk driver, the judge may even award punitive damages to the plaintiff to punish the defendant. However, if the defendant does not have the necessary assets to pay the full compensation amount, you should speak to your lawyer before initiating the lawsuit and look for other options.

3rd Way: Recurring to the Dram Shop Law

In a drunk-driving car accident, the drunk driver is not always the only liable party. Dram shop laws state that any establishment that sells alcohol to a minor or someone who is “visibly intoxicated” may be held liable for the damages caused by the drunk driver. In accidents that involve minor drunk drivers, it is relatively easy to win the case. You only need to prove that the driver is a minor and that the establishment sold them alcohol. However, if the driver is not a minor, things can be a little more complicated. Proving that the driver was “visibly intoxicated” when they purchased alcohol required more evidence. An attorney would have to speak to witnesses and check security cameras or any other source of evidence to obtain the necessary evidence.

In 2009, an Applebee’s served 23 alcoholic drinks to Stewart Lee Richardson in less than 2 hours. Later, Richardson crashed another car that was stopped. In the car there was a 2 year old child who suffered severe brain damage. The family of the boy sued the drunk driver and the restaurant. In the end, the restaurant made a settlement offer to the family of the boy which was accepted.

Liable Individuals for intoxicated drivers

It is also possible to sue an individual who provided alcohol to a driver who later caused a car accident due to drunk driving. This includes social events or parties hosted by an individual.

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Hit by a Drunk Driver? Get Help Here

Greenberg & Stein Drunk Driving Accident Attorney

Car accidents can have a very important impact on your life, both physically and financially. Greenberg & Stein P.C. is a law firm in New York where you can find experienced drunk driving attorneys. Our legal team has represented numerous clients who were the victims of a drunk driving accident. We are committed to helping you receive the compensation you deserve. Call us at 888-716-3843 to schedule a free consultation to review your case.

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