New Jersey DWI Car Accident Attorneys
Proudly serving all of New Jersey
Legal Representation for Drunk Driving Car Accident Victims
When a driver who is drunk or under the influence of drugs causes an accident, he or she may face criminal charges. But a criminal conviction will not automatically result in monetary compensation for the injured victim. If an impaired driver has injured you or a loved one, it is important to get more information about all your legal rights and options.
The experienced NJ car accident lawyers at Lependorf & Silverstein, P.C., have helped victims and their families financially pursue impaired drivers. We understand how one negligent act can turn another family's life upside down.
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"Drunk" is commonly the first thought when a driver is referred to as impaired. But in New Jersey, driving under the influence of drugs (DUID) also counts. DUID laws apply to anyone who is operating a vehicle while under the influence of a "narcotic, a controlled dangerous substance, hallucinogenic or habit-producing drug." Some of these drugs include:
- Bath salts
In addition to controlled substances, certain over-the-counter medications and prescriptions also qualify for DUID. Medications that can cause drowsiness, such as anti-depressants, allergy medications, sleeping pills, cough syrups, and painkillers, all carry warning labels that operating a vehicle while taking them can alter your ability to react to situations. Driving while taking these medications can be considered negligence.
Here are our answers to some of the most common questions that arise in the aftermath of a DUI/DUID accident.
The actions you take right after the crash can affect your ability to receive compensation. Make sure you remain at the scene. Call the police, file a report, and get a copy for your records. Get prompt medical attention and seek the counsel of an experienced Princeton car accident lawyer who represents the rights of DUI/DUID victims.
A driver who is under the influence of a stimulant will have an elevated heart rate and blood pressure. In addition, the driver may appear anxious, confused, or even violent. Drivers who are under the influence of depressants will have a decreased heart rate and blood pressure and can appear tired and lethargic. If you are involved in an accident and believe that the other driver is under the influence, it is important to speak to law enforcement officers on the scene about your concern. It’s also a good idea to take down witnesses’ contact information, and write down your impressions of what happened immediately afterward as evidence.
There are many ways that drugs and alcohol can have an impact on a person’s ability to safely operate a vehicle, including:
- Loss of judgment
- Poor muscle coordination/slower reaction time
- Inability to focus
- Difficulty maintaining a safe distance from other vehicles
- Distorted vision and visual perception
- Difficulty remaining in one lane
- Decreased ability to process information
After being injured by an intoxicated driver, it's important to protect your rights. Contact a New Jersey drunk driving car accident attorney at (609) 240-0040.
The value of a personal injury claim in New Jersey depends on the severity of your injuries and the extent of your losses. Your lawyer will assist you in determining what fair compensation for your losses would be. This number would include all of your current medical bills as well as any other therapy or medical care that you will require in the future as a result of your injuries. In addition, your lost wages and other damages will be included in the compensation you are seeking. If your injuries could have a lifelong impact, then future costs for medical care, assisted living, lost wages, and loss of enjoyment of life will also be calculated into the amount you are seeking.
If the authorities give a citation to the at-fault driver for drunk driving or driving under the influence of drugs, it will greatly improve your chances of a successful civil claim. But the defendant does not have to face DUI or DUID charges in order to be held financially responsible for a crash. If you can prove that the driver had been drinking or taking drugs, either from a blood alcohol test or from eyewitness testimony of people who saw him or her at a bar consuming alcohol or taking drugs, it will help prove that the driver was negligent.
Under dram shop law, a business or host who serves alcoholic beverages to a person who is obviously intoxicated can be held liable for anyone injured by the drunken patron. In New Jersey, the dram shop statute (N.J. Rev. Stat. §2A:22A-1 et seq.) states that the plaintiff must show that in the server’s eyes the possibility of injury was a foreseeable consequence based on the patron’s behavior and number of drinks served, etc. The plaintiff must also show that alcohol served to the patron was the cause of his or her intoxication and resulting crash. This could be demonstrated, for example, by showing a timeline of events.
New Jersey victims have gotten justice under the dram shop statute. In 2005, a New Jersey jury awarded $135 million to the family of a girl who was paralyzed in a 1999 drunk driving crash. In this case, Aramark Corporation, owner of the New York Giants concession stand where the man was served, was found liable for $75 million in compensatory damages. The concession staff had allowed the driver to purchase six beers at once, when the stadium mandates that fans can only buy two beers at once.
A concept called "social host liability" is very similar to dram shop law, except that the liable party is a person or group of people that hosted and provided alcohol to the drunk driver, not a business. In New Jersey, this law is quite broad, meaning that a social host can be held liable for victims’ injuries even when the drunk driver is a consenting adult who poured his own drinks. Like dram shop law, however, the guest must have been visibly intoxicated and the victim’s injuries must have been caused by the guest’s intoxicated driving.
If you or a family member has been injured as a pedestrian by an impaired driver, don't count on the driver's insurance company (if he even has auto insurance) to compensate you for your injuries. You need to be proactive and file a personal injury claim against the driver (and his insurer, if he has one). As an injured pedestrian, you deserve to be compensated for the following damages:
- All medical bills
- Pain and suffering that results from the injury
- Property damage and loss
- Lost wages due to time missed from work
- Costs of physical therapy and rehabilitation
- Household modifications, such as wheelchair ramps, etc.
- Permanent injury or disability
If you've lost a spouse, partner, family member, or other loved one due to the actions of an impaired driver, you have the right to file a wrongful death claim against the driver and his estate and assets. As a bereaved loved one, you can pursue the following damages:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Resultant medical bills
- Pain and suffering of the deceased prior to death
- Loss of future income
- Loss of future benefits, such as medical benefits and retirement benefits
- Loss of household duties performed by the deceased, such as chores, childcare, property maintenance, etc.
- Loss of love, affection, consortium, guidance, etc.
The driver's insurance company may deny your claim or offer you a quick settlement to make your case go away. To avoid the stress and time-consuming process of dealing with someone else’s insurance company and legal team, it is always best to work with a legal professional whose only concern is to protect your rights and best interests.
Your attorney will work with you to build your case to justify the compensation that you are requesting. In the event of more serious injuries, your lawyer will have the experience to get you the money that you will need to pay for future care for your injuries and your potentially altered ability to care for yourself and provide for your family. In addition, your lawyer will help you seek compensation for nontangible damages such as the pain and suffering that you have endured as a result of someone else’s negligence.
Please contact Lependorf & Silverstein, P.C., for a free and comprehensive case evaluation. You can reach us at (609) 240-0040.
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