Will a Drunk Driver’s Conviction Help Your Car Accident Case in New York?

If you have been injured by a drunk driver, you will want justice for your damages. If a driver is convicted, it can help you in your efforts to recover compensation.

A drunk driver’s conviction can help your case in several ways. A great deal of evidence will be used by the prosecution to get a conviction, and that evidence can greatly help your civil lawsuit. A conviction for drunk driving can also help you recover damages meant to punish the driver.

For a free case consultation with our Westchester car accident attorneys, contact The Martello Law Firm, PLLC today at (914) 685-6950.

How Can a Drunk Driver’s Conviction Help My Car Accident Case in New York?

Being the victim of a drunk driver in New York can be devastating. In many cases, a drunk driver will be prosecuted for driving while intoxicated, but this process is not intended to compensate victims. To recover compensation for your injuries, you can pursue damages in a civil lawsuit with the help of our New York car accident lawyers. A drunk driver’s conviction in criminal court can help your civil car accident case in a few ways.

Relevant Evidence

One way that a drunk driver’s conviction can help your case is the evidence it can provide in a civil lawsuit. In general, criminal convictions are public records and can typically be introduced as evidence in a civil trial. Further, the prosecution would have gathered and presented evidence in their case. If it resulted in a conviction, the evidence will also be incredibly helpful in your civil case. For instance, state evidence will likely show how they proved the driver’s blood alcohol content was over 0.08%, which can be used to recover damages in your case.

The testimony of the defendant in their criminal case can have its uses in a civil trial. If the driver is being questioned in your civil case and makes statements that are inconsistent with their testimony in their criminal case, they can be confronted on their inconsistent statements. This can show a judge or jury that the defendant is not trustworthy.

While a conviction for drunk driving is not evidence of negligence alone, it can be very convincing when taken with other evidence. A conviction is also a very good indicator of the potential success of your civil lawsuit.

Increased Damages

Another important part a drunk driver’s conviction can play in your case is securing additional damages beyond the standard ones awarded in a civil case. In cases where a defendant acted egregiously in causing an accident, the plaintiff has the right to pursue punitive damages. Punitive damages can be awarded at the court’s discretion to punish a defendant for their behavior. A conviction could be sufficient to show the court in your civil case that their conduct warrants an award for punitive damages. These will be awarded in addition to any compensatory damages given, which can increase your compensation greatly.

Can I File a Civil Lawsuit for My Car Accident Before a Drunk Driver is Convicted in New York?

Unlike other states, New York does not stop victims of drunk drivers from filing a civil lawsuit before the criminal proceedings conclude. While it is important to get your lawsuit filed as soon as possible, once filed, our firm can follow the criminal case to ensure the outcome can be of use in your case. For instance, a drunk driver’s case might not go to trial. In fact, many cases will result in a plea bargain being made. However, acceptance of a plea deal acts the same as a conviction and could be useful in your civil case.

Another strategy would be to begin gathering evidence for your civil case while the criminal matter proceeds. Once the criminal case has been resolved, in conviction or otherwise, your civil lawsuit will already be prepared and ready to file that day.

How to Recover Compensation Against a Drunk Driver in a Civil Car Accident Lawsuit in New York

Unfortunately, the other driver being convicted of drunk driving is not, in itself, enough to file a lawsuit for a car accident in New York. To recover damages beyond what your “no-fault” personal injury protection insurance provides, you will need to show that you sustained serious injuries in your accident. Serious injuries are not what anybody would consider serious but are set by I.S.C. Law§ 5102(d).

Victims of drunk drivers can file a lawsuit if they suffered broken bones, dismemberment, or the permanent loss of a body part or system. They also meet the threshold if they sustained a significant limitation of the use of a body part or system. If the drunk driver caused death or the loss of a fetus, that would be considered serious for the purposes of filing a lawsuit. Scarring and disfigurement can also qualify as serious injuries, but they usually must be significant.

It is important to understand that recovering compensation in a civil case is different from a criminal conviction in a criminal case. While a drunk driver’s conviction will be of immense use in your case, it is only one piece of evidence. You will still need to prove that your injuries were caused by their negligence. This means showing that their drunk driving led to them being careless, like speeding or swerving, and resulted in an accident. You will then need to show that your injuries were caused by this accident. Fortunately, that is not too challenging when pursuing compensation against a convicted drunk driver.

Other Considerations to Make After a Car Accident Caused by a Drunk Driver in New York

Whenever a victim is injured by a drunk driver, one important question to ask is where the person got intoxicated and whether they were coming from a bar or restaurant before the accident happened. This is important as it could mean other liable parties in your case. According to New York’s “dram shop” laws, alcohol vendors can be held responsible for overserving patrons that subsequently cause an accident. Private individuals could also be held liable if evidence can show that they served the driver when they were already visibly intoxicated.

Our New York Car Accident Attorneys Can Help

Contact The Martello Law Firm, PLLC at (914) 685-6950 today for a free review of your case with our White Plains car accident lawyers.

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