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Does Car Insurance Cover Drunk Driving Accidents in New York?

Understanding Car Insurance Coverage for Drunk Driving Accidents in New York
Drunk Driving Accidents I Greenberg & Stein

Drunk driving is definitely something very dangerous that can leave catastrophic consequences. In 2020 approximately 11,654 people died in drunk driving car accidents, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Drunk driving accidents cause 30% of all motor vehicle accident fatalities. After a car accident, there are many things that people usually worry about. For example, most people will be concerned about their injuries, their lost wages, the damages sustained by their cars, etc. Naturally, the financial burden that can be caused by a vehicle accident will vary depending on the severity of the accident and the injuries.

All drivers must carry car insurance in case they see themselves involved in a car accident. However, drunk driving accidents are a little different than other types of accidents. For example, the insurance company of the intoxicated driver may not pay for all the medical expenses incurred by the driver. The insurance provider is only required to provide coverage for emergency medical assistance. Once the intoxicated driver is no longer at risk of dying, the insurance company may not provide coverage for any other medical treatment needed. Other damages such as lost wages will most likely not be covered either.

Is The Drunk Driver’s Insurance Provider Liable for My Damages and Injuries?

Yes, the other driver must carry liability insurance. This insurance policy protects you (and anybody driving your car with your consent) if a third party files a claim against you, alleging that you were careless or at fault. Currently, the minimum liability coverage required by the state of New York is:

$25,000 for bodily injury (not resulting in death) or $50,000 for any injury resulting in death sustained by one person in any one accident.
$50,000 for bodily injury (not resulting in death) sustained by two or more people in any one accident, or $100,000 for any injuries resulting in death sustained by two or more people in any one accident (subject to the above per person limits).
$10,000 for property damage.

Liability coverage applies even if the driver who caused the accident was under the influence of alcohol. Just keep in mind that the maximum amount of money you can expect is determined by the policy limits. That means that if the cost of the repairs necessary for your car exceed the coverage purchased by the at-fault driver, you will need to look into other options to collect the compensation necessary. If this is your case, seek counsel from an experienced drunk driving attorney.

No-Fault State in DWI Cases

New York is a no-fault state. This means that regardless of who was responsible for the accident, each driver needs to file a claim with their own insurance company. Personal Injury Protection (PIP), also known as no-fault insurance, is required for all New York drivers. Drivers must carry at least $50,000 in PIP coverage, nonetheless it is advisable to purchase more. This insurance will cover reasonable medical expenses, 80% of your lost income (up to $2,000 per month) and other out-of-pocket expenses.

If you sustained a serious injury such as significant disfigurement, fractures or significant restriction in the use of a body organ or system, you can step out of the no-fault system. If you step out of the no-fault system you can file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver. Typically, insurance companies will not provide coverage to a driver who is being sued in a drunk driving case.

What Damages Are You Entitled to Recover After a DWI Accident?

When you file a claim with your insurance company to receive your no-fault benefits, you are entitled to the following:

  • Medical bills
  • A portion of your lost income (80% of your lost wages, up to $2000 per month)
  • A maximum of $25 per day for up to 1 year for reasonable expenses (transportation, household help, etc.)

If you sustained a serious injury you can file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver. Through a personal injury lawsuit, you are able to recover compensation for economic and noneconomic damages such as:

  • Medical bills
  • All for your lost wages
  • Other out-of-pocket expenses
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional anguish
  • Lost of enjoyment of life
  • Lost of companionship (if your loved one died in the accident)

Do New York Insurance Companies Pay Punitive Damages?

While the judge may award you punitive damages to punish the at-fault driver, these damages are not covered by insurance companies. This means that the driver will have to pay out of their own pocket.

What Happens if the Drunk Driver Does not Have Insurance?

Because of New York’s no-fault statutes, you may not have to worry too much about whether or not the drunk driver who caused the accident has insurance. To begin, you must claim with your insurance carrier in order to get the no-fault payments to which you are entitled. However, there are times when your expenditures surpass your coverage limitations and the other motorist is uninsured. You can utilize your uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance coverage in this situation. Remember that you may only utilize this coverage after you have exhausted all your main insurance options.

Drunk Driving Accident Statute of Limitations

If you are able to step out of the no-fault system and decide to file a personal injury lawsuit against the drunk driver, you have 3 years from the date of the accident to do so.

DWI New York Laws

In New York, driving while intoxicated is a crime. Depending if it is your first or second offense you may face different penalties. License suspension, expensive fines and even jail are some of the most common penalties for drunk drivers. Authorities use your blood alcohol concentration to determine if you are intoxicated or not. In New York, you will be charged with DWI if your BAC is equal or higher to:

0.08% for drivers aged 21 or older
0.04% for commercial vehicle drivers
0.02% for drivers who are less that 21 years old

New York Drunk Driving Attorneys

If you have recently been involved in a drunk driving car accident, you may not know what to do. Which is perfectly normal. One of the most important things to do is to seek help from a professional who understands New York laws. Greenberg & Stein P.C. is a law firm in New York dedicated to helping our clients get the compensation they deserve. We have a team of experienced drunk driving accident attorneys ready to help you. Do not hesitate in contacting us. Call us at 888-716-3843 to schedule a free consultation to review your case.

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