Atlantic City Drunk Driving Accident Attorney
Drunk driving accidents can permanently change the course of victims’ lives. Many of them have severe injuries that can permanently impact the way they live their lives—traumatic brain injuries, amputations, and spinal cord injury, for example. While an Atlantic City drunk driving accident claim cannot restore the strength and mobility you lost as a result of your accident, it could give you a chance to regain funds you need to pay medical bills and help you rebuild your life. If you suffered a drunk driving accident in Atlantic City, contact the Atlantic City Drunk Driving Accident Lawyers at The Levin Firm at (215) 825-5183 today.
Drunk Driving Accidents: The Aftermath
Every day, across the United States, an average 30 people die in drunk driving accidents. Even more suffer severe injuries. Drunk driving accidents can prove to be more hazardous than accidents without the influence of alcohol, since alcohol can slow reaction times and make it more difficult for drivers to regain control of their vehicles.
Drunk driving accidents can cause severe injury, often resulting in life-changing consequences for the victim.
Drunk drivers may suffer these impairments, which make it more difficult for them to control their vehicles:
- Tunnel vision or blurred vision
- Loss of judgment
- Reduced coordination
- Decreased ability to track moving objects, including other vehicles
- Difficulty steering
- Trouble responding to emergency situations
- Poor speed control
- Impaired perception
- Slowed reflexes
- Decreased focus and concentration on the road
Because of these challenges, drunk driving accidents may cause more severe injury than auto accidents with unimpaired drivers. Many victims of drunk driving accidents suffer severe, life-altering injuries.
Traumatic Brain Injury
Traumatic brain injury from a drunk driving accident can cause severe, often lifelong impairment in victims. Victims of even mild traumatic brain injury may notice symptoms more than a year after the accident. In the case of severe traumatic brain injury, victims may suffer lifelong impact. Victims may struggle with focus and concentration, have trouble with creative tasks or cognitive processing, or struggle with sleep (either by sleeping too much or too little).
Traumatic brain injury can also make it difficult for the victim to regulate emotions, so the victim may struggle to respond appropriately to some stimuli. Some victims notice extreme emotional reactions to relatively minor stimuli, while others may react with inappropriate emotions. Some victims with traumatic brain injury even note personality changes.
The mental and emotional challenges associated with traumatic brain injury can make it very difficult for victims to handle normal work tasks. In the case of severe traumatic brain injury, victims may also have trouble with self-care. Some victims may need to rely on a caregiver to help them stay on track and perform normal daily tasks.
Following a severe drunk driving accident, victims may end up with amputations. Sometimes, victims lose limbs during the accident itself. They may lose limbs immediately from the force of impact from the accident or may suffer severe crushing damage that requires the amputation of the limb at the hospital. In other cases, victims may suffer such severe damage to the limb that it cuts off blood flow, which can lead to dead tissue that requires the removal of the limb in the future.
Amputees often require the use of prosthetic devices to help them maintain independence. Unfortunately, prosthetics are often very expensive. Since they often require replacement every three to five years, they can become an ongoing expense throughout the amputee victim’s life. It can take several months before an amputee receives and adjusts to a prosthesis. It may also take significant physical and occupational therapy for the amputee to learn how to effectively use the device.
As a result, victims may need assistance with self-care until they learn how to effectively use their devices. They may also miss work for some time or, in the case of some injuries, permanently lose the ability to complete their previous work tasks.
Spinal Cord Injury
The extreme force associated with a drunk driving accident can cause damage to the spinal cord. If the spinal cord does not sever completely, it results in incomplete spinal cord injury, which can cause decreased mobility or function below the site of the injury. Many victims with incomplete spinal cord injury need to use crutches or braces to get around, or they may need to rest after walking only a short distance.
In the case of complete spinal cord injury, in which the spinal cord severs completely, the victim typically suffers paralysis and decreased function below the site of the injury. Depending on where on the body the injury occurs, victims could experience paralysis from the waist down or from the neck down.
Victims with complete spinal cord injury typically need to use a wheelchair to get around. Many lose the ability to complete their former work functions, especially if they needed to move around or relied on physical prowess to complete their job duties. Others may find themselves needing to miss work for a long time while they recover from their injuries and learn how to cope with their new limitations. Spinal cord injuries can also prevent many victims from participating in the activities they once enjoyed.
Severe broken bones can result from drunk driving accidents. In many cases, these injuries can result in permanent mobility challenges. Victims with broken bones, especially multiple broken bones, may struggle to perform self-care as they move toward a recovery. Broken bones can also make it difficult for many victims to complete their work responsibilities or engage in activities that they enjoy.
For example, victims with broken bones in the hands or arms—common in drivers in auto accidents since they often brace against the steering wheel—may struggle to type or handle paperwork. Victims with broken legs may have significant mobility challenges during their recoveries.
An Atlantic City Drunk Driving Accident Claim Can Help You Claim Compensation for Your Injuries in an Atlantic City Drunk Driving Accident
Following a drunk driving accident in Atlantic City, a personal injury claim could help you seek compensation for your injuries. Consult an Atlantic City drunk driving accident attorney, like those at The Levin Firm, as soon after your accident as possible.
Our Atlantic City drunk driving accident attorneys could:
- Collect evidence regarding your drunk driving accident and your claim.
- Give you a better idea of the compensation you deserve, which could help you determine whether to accept a settlement offer or continue negotiating.
- Negotiate on your behalf and handle communication with the drunk driver’s insurance company.
The sooner you contact an Atlantic City drunk driving accident attorney, the sooner that attorney can start working on your behalf.
The Compensation You Deserve After an Atlantic City Drunk Driving Accident
Many drunk driving accident victims first want to know, “How much compensation could I expect after a drunk driving accident in Atlantic City?” The compensation you may receive for your injuries may depend on several key factors.
1. Who caused your accident? The party that caused your accident may carry auto insurance that could pay out your Atlantic City drunk driving accident claim after a drunk driving accident. Other parties may be involved as well, such as auto manufacturers or the driver’s employer. In the case where a commercial driver was involved, they may also carry liability insurance that could help provide protection to both the company and you in the event of an accident. The limits of that insurance policy may also serve as the limits of the compensation you can receive for your injuries.
2. What injuries did you suffer, and what medical bills did you face as you recovered from those injuries? Medical expenses can quickly pile up after a drunk driving accident. Even if you suffered only minor injuries, you may need to visit the emergency room after your accident. Victims with serious injuries may require long-term hospitalization, multiple procedures, and ongoing care for their injuries.
You could include compensation for all your medical expenses as part of your Atlantic City drunk driving accident claim, including:
- Emergency care
- Emergency transport
- Surgeries and procedures
- Durable medical equipment, including crutches and braces
- A stay in a long-term care facility
- Ongoing medical care, including follow-up visits with the supervising doctor
- Physical therapy
- Occupational therapy
- In-home care, if needed
In some cases, you may need to make modifications to your home to make it possible for you to continue to function more independently. You may, for example, need to modify your bathroom to make it wheelchair-accessible, or you may need to install ramps or widen doorways. Victims whose injuries require these home modifications may include those modifications as part of their Atlantic City drunk driving accident claims. Consult our Atlantic City drunk driving accident attorneys at The Levin Firm to learn more about how to include those expenses today.
3. How much work did you have to miss due to your drunk driving accident? Many Atlantic City drunk driving accident claims also include lost wages due to inability to work following the accident. Severe injuries can keep victims out of work for quite some time, especially if the victim has injuries that make it impossible for him or her to complete work responsibilities.
While some employers will work with accident victims to help them return to work as soon as possible in spite of their injuries, others may not have the ability to modify job responsibilities or expectations enough for victims to return to work until they have made a full recovery. In other cases, victims may permanently lose the ability to perform their jobs. In that case, they may need to claim lost earning potential as part of their Atlantic City drunk driving accident claim.
4. How did your Atlantic City drunk driving accident injuries impact you, in terms of pain and suffering? Many types of injuries can cause significant physical pain and suffering. Not only that, however, you may suffer mental and emotional anguish due to your injuries. Many victims find that they can no longer enjoy many of their favorite activities due to their injuries. You could try to pursue compensation for your pain and suffering as part of your Atlantic City drunk driving accident claim after a drunk driving accident.
Determining the Liable Party in an Atlantic City Drunk Driving Accident
The driver who causes an accident could ultimately bear liability for whatever happens behind the wheel. That driver chose to get behind the wheel while inebriated, which caused the accident. In Atlantic City, however, drunk driving accidents fall under New Jersey’s Dram Shop Act.
According to this statute, bars and restaurants should serve neither underage individuals nor those who appear visibly intoxicated. If a bar or restaurant chooses to serve a clearly intoxicated individual or underage individual, and that individual goes on to cause an accident, the bar or restaurant may share liability for injuries suffered in that accident.
Other factors could also contribute to drunk driving accidents. As in car accidents with sober drivers, mechanical failures—including tire blowouts and engine failure—can lead to serious problems behind the wheel. While a drunk driver may struggle more to control a vehicle in the case of mechanical failure, the auto or part manufacturer or a mechanic that recently worked on the vehicle may still share liability for an accident caused by mechanical failure.
Consult an Atlantic City drunk driving accident attorney to learn more about who may have caused or contributed to your drunk driving accident in Atlantic City. If an attorney identifies multiple parties that contributed to the accident, you may file an Atlantic City drunk driving accident claim against each liable party. This could increase the compensation you ultimately receive for your injuries.
Atlantic City Drunk Driving Accident FAQ
Atlantic City sees its share of traffic mishaps. Drivers under the influence of alcohol and drugs contribute to some of the worst ones. Alcohol adversely affects drivers long before their blood-alcohol level reaches the point of legal intoxication. It compounds the hazardous effects of speeding, distracted driving, and other risky driving behaviors. When a drunk driver takes to the road in Atlantic City, no driver, cyclist, or pedestrian is safe. All too often, drunk driving causes serious, catastrophic, or fatal injuries.
Victims of Atlantic City drunk drivers often have lots of questions about their legal rights and financial interests in the wake of a crash. Below, we answer some common questions they tend to ask. For answers to questions specific to injuries or losses you sustained in an Atlantic City drunk driving accident, contact an experienced drunk driving accident injury lawyer today at the Levin Firm for a free case consultation.
What qualifies as drunk driving in Atlantic City?
New Jersey’s DWI statute defines drunk driving as:
- Driving vehicle under the influence of liquor; OR
- Driving with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or greater.
In other words, drunk driving can happen even when a driver’s blood-alcohol level is below the so-called “legal limit” of 0.08 percent. In fact, driver impairment starts with the first sip of an alcoholic beverage.
NHTSA research has found the following impairments in drivers with different blood alcohol concentrations (BAC):
- 0.02 percent BAC: Judgment, visual, cognitive, and motor function losses;
- 0.05 percent BAC: Reduced inhibitions, alertness, vision control, and coordination;
- 0.08 percent BAC: Diminished speech, vision, hearing, reaction times, concentration, mental processing, and other functional impairments;
- 0.10 percent BAC: Slurred speech, reduced reaction time, thinking and coordination, difficulty maintaining lanes and braking on demand;
- 0.15 percent BAC: Lost muscle control and balance, impaired task completion, control, hearing, and vision.
Even if the driver who caused an accident in Atlantic City that left you injured was under the legal limit BAC, that driver may still have driven drunk. The driver may still face criminal penalties, and you may still have the right to take legal action against that driver (and anyone answerable for the driver’s conduct) seeking money damages.
Can I sue for my Atlantic City drunk driving accident injuries?
Chances are that you can.
However, the types of damages you can seek in that lawsuit can vary under New Jersey law depending on the features of any auto insurance policy that covers your accident injuries.
- Victims covered by a New Jersey auto insurance policy. In most cases, an Atlantic City drunk driving accident victim covered by a New Jersey auto insurance policy will turn first to that insurance policy’s personal injury protection (PIP) coverage to pay for medical and related expenses resulting from the accident. That victim may also have the right to sue for damages, including pain and suffering, depending upon the nature and severity of injuries suffered, the identity of the party at fault for the accident, and whether the victim’s auto insurance policy comes with a limited or unlimited right-to-sue feature. Read more about the various types and options for New Jersey auto insurance here.
- Victims not covered by a New Jersey auto insurance policy. Anyone not covered by a New Jersey auto insurance policy who suffers injuries in an Atlantic City drunk driving accident will typically have the ability to sue for damages.
The effect of New Jersey auto insurance on the ability to sue for damages after an Atlantic City drunk driving accident can get complicated. Speak with an experienced drunk driving accident injury lawyer to figure out your legal options.
Who can I sue after my Atlantic City drunk driving accident?
Assuming you have the right to sue, the parties who might have a legal liability to you can vary.
Here are some of the individuals, businesses, and others who might owe you damages for your injuries and losses in an Atlantic City drunk driving accident.
- The drunk driver usually has a legal liability to accident victims, because drunk driving is illegal and usually causes the crash that leads to injuries.
- The employer of the drunk driver, if the driver crashed a work vehicle while on-the-job;
- The owner of the car the drunk driver crashed, if the owner allowed the driver to take the wheel knowing the owner was intoxicated;
- A bar, restaurant, other alcohol vendor, or social host who served alcohol to the driver while the driver was visibly intoxicated or knowing that the driver was a minor;
- A government agency or contractor who failed to prevent or warn drivers about an unreasonably hazardous road condition that contributed to the accident; and
- Anyone else whose unreasonably dangerous decisions or actions, even if unrelated to the act of drunk driving, contributed to the cause of the Atlantic City accident that injured you.
- As we said, every Atlantic City drunk driving accident has its own unique facts and circumstances that will determine who may owe you damages. To identify the parties with legal liability to you for your injuries and losses, contact an experienced drunk driving accident injury lawyer today.
How much money can I recover after my Atlantic City drunk driving accident?
There are no guarantees. The probability of you recovering money by taking legal action, and the amount of money you might have the right to recover, depends on the specific circumstances of your Atlantic City drunk driving accident and injuries, your auto insurance coverage (if any), and the financial resources of the party that owes you damages.
However, in general victims of drunk driving accidents can often seek compensation from liable parties to pay for:
- Past and future medical expenses not covered by PIP insurance related to caring for your injuries, such as the costs of emergency care, hospitalization, long-term care stays, doctor appointments, surgery, therapy, and medication.
- Past and future non-medical expenses related to living with your injuries, such as the cost of hiring someone to help out with daily activities while you recover;
- Past and future lost income owing to your temporary or permanent inability to work because of your injuries;
- Your pain and suffering associated with your drunk driving accident injuries;
- The harm done to your quality of life and relationships by your injuries; and
- In some cases, punitive damages that aim to punish the act of drunk driving and any other extreme or outrageous conduct that led to the accident and your injuries.
Every Atlantic City drunk driving case is different. To find out how much money you might have the right to recover, and the amount you might reasonably expect to recover, contact an experienced Atlantic City drunk driving accident injury lawyer today who can evaluate your injuries and losses, and the strength of your potential legal claim.
Can I sue even if the drunk driver wasn’t convicted for a DWI?
Assuming you have the right to sue generally, then yes, you probably can. Your right to take legal action seeking compensation for your injuries and losses in an Atlantic City drunk driving accident does not depend on whether the driver was convicted of DWI. In fact, your rights do not even depend on whether the authorities charged the driver.
The reasons why a drunk driver might escape criminal charges often have nothing to do with whether an experienced drunk driving accident injury lawyer can prove a case on your behalf for damages. Also, as we mentioned above, oftentimes someone other than the drunk driver might owe you damages.
Never let the fact that the drunk driver in your Atlantic City accident did not face criminal charges keep you from talking to an experienced lawyer about your rights.
What if the Atlantic City drunk driver didn’t have insurance?
You probably still have a claim.
The drunk driver’s lack of insurance might complicate recovering compensation, but Atlantic City drunk driving accident victims can often seek compensation from other sources, such as:
- Other parties, as described above, who may have legal liability for your injuries and losses;
- The drunk driver’s personal assets and income, which you may have the right to collect as damages in the absence of the driver having insurance; and
- Your own uninsured motorist insurance coverage, if you carry it, which protects against this exact situation and pays benefits in place of what you might otherwise recover from the drunk driver’s insurance or assets. (This coverage also protects you if the drunk driver flees the scene and cannot be found.)
Experienced Atlantic City drunk driving accident injury lawyers have the resources and know-how to explore all legal options available to you to collect compensation for your injuries and losses. Do not assume that you are out of luck just because the drunk driver lacked insurance.
How long does it take to recover money after an Atlantic City drunk driving accident?
It all depends on the particulars of your case. Some Atlantic City drunk driving accident matters can go from start-to-finish in a matter of weeks. Others might take a year or more to bring to a successful resolution. And, of course, there are no guarantees, which is why you need to hire an experienced Atlantic City drunk driving accident lawyer at the Levin Firm who has the skills and resources to give you the best possible chance of a favorable financial outcome for your claims.
You may not have the ability to control many of the factors that influence the timeline of your case. They can include the number of parties involved, the degree of dispute between them, and the personalities of the lawyers, insurance representatives, and others involved in the process of addressing your claim.
One thing you can control, however, is when you seek the help of an experienced drunk driving accident injury lawyer. The sooner you take that first step, the sooner you can hope to resolve your legal claims.
How common are Atlantic City drunk driving accidents?
Drunk driving accidents happen far too often. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:
- Nationwide, drunk drivers contribute to 30 fatalities each day.
- In one recent year, 10,511 people died in crashes involving drunk drivers.
- In New Jersey, 776 people were involved in accidents while driving under the influence, and 564 people sustained fatal injuries in alcohol-related crashes in that same year.
- Of those killed, 6 people sustained fatal injuries in alcohol-related crashes in Atlantic County.
- Nationally, alcohol was a factor in 22 percent of accidents in which children age 14 and younger sustained fatal injuries.
What should I do to protect my rights after an Atlantic City drunk driving accident?
First and foremost, get the medical care you need and follow your doctor’s orders. Your health is the top priority. By getting and following appropriate care, you give yourself the best possible chance of regaining your health. You also benefit yourself legally by documenting the nature and extent of your injuries in your medical records, and by ensuring that no one can ever claim you made your injuries worse by not taking care of yourself.
Next, be wary of unsolicited settlement offers from parties at-fault for your accident and/or their insurance companies. Sometimes, individuals, businesses, and others with financial exposure to an Atlantic City drunk driving accident try to cut their losses by offering a quick settlement of a claim.
Invariably, these offers fall far short of the amount of money you actually need and deserve for your injuries and losses. Instead of jumping at what seems like easy money, leave negotiation of any settlement to an experienced attorney who has the experience and street smarts to protect you from getting taken for a ride.
Finally, contact an experienced Atlantic City drunk driving accident injury lawyer right away for a free case evaluation to discuss your legal options for securing compensation. You may have valuable legal rights, but only if you act on them before time runs out. If you wait too long, then you could lose your ability to recover compensation altogether.
With the help of a skilled attorney who understands the legal and factual challenges of an Atlantic City drunk driving accident case, you can give yourself the best possible chance of recovering the maximum compensation available to pay for your injuries and losses.
Contact an Atlantic City Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer Today
If you suffered serious injuries in an Atlantic City drunk driving accident, our Atlantic City personal injury lawyers could help you better understand your legal rights and give you a better idea of the compensation you deserve for your injuries. Contact The Levin Firm today at (215) 825-5183 to schedule a free consultation.
The Levin Firm | Atlantic City Office
2 Convention Blvd, Atlantic City, NJ 08401