Drunk driving ranks among the top causes of severe car accidents in America. The New Jersey Department of Law & Public Safety reports that drunk driving contributes to 29% of deadly car crashes nationwide. Even in cases where no one dies, accidents caused by drunk driving can cause significant harm, including massive medical expenses, severe pain, and suffering.
When it comes to personal injury cases, the responsible driver may not have the resources to cover all damages. Luckily, individuals injured by drunk drivers in New Jersey have multiple options to seek compensation.
Being involved in a car accident can be a traumatic experience. But when the driver who caused the accident is drunk, the experience becomes even more devastating. Drunk driving is a serious offense in New Jersey, resulting in serious injuries or even death. If a drunk driver in New Jersey has injured you or a loved one, you may be entitled to compensation. This blog post will discuss the various legal options available to you.
Benefits from car insurance for personal injury
In the state of New Jersey, Personal Injury Protection (PIP) is a required component of car insurance policies. This coverage benefits medical expenses, lost wages, and other related costs resulting from a car accident, regardless of who was at fault for the collision.
While PIP benefits are intended to support injured individuals, navigating the claims process financially can be complex and overwhelming. That’s why working with an experienced car insurance attorney who can help you understand your rights and navigate the claims process is essential. With their guidance, you can rest assured that you’ll receive the financial support you need to recover from your injuries and move forward with your life.
Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits are available to policyholders and household members, even if they were not in a car at the time of the accident. This means that if you are walking, biking, or even if you are a pedestrian hit by a car, you may still be eligible for PIP benefits. PIP covers medical expenses, lost wages, and other related costs resulting from a car accident. It is important to note that there are specific eligibility requirements and deadlines for filing a claim, so it is always recommended to consult with a professional attorney. Knowing your rights and options for PIP benefits can provide peace of mind and financial security in an accident.
Taking legal action against a drunk driver
Suing a drunk driver in New Jersey can be a complicated and emotional process. If personal injury protection (PIP) benefits are unavailable or insufficient to cover damages, pursuing legal action may be necessary. It is crucial to seek the advice of an experienced personal injury attorney who can guide you through the legal system and help you get the compensation you deserve.
While no amount of money can undo the harm caused by a drunk driver, it can help alleviate the financial burden and provide some sense of justice. Don’t hesitate to fight for your rights and the justice you deserve.
Nonetheless, personal injury claims against drunk drivers have their limitations. Similar to any car accident where PIP (personal injury protection) benefits are available, individuals can only sue a drunk driver for non-economic damages if they suffer permanent injuries. Such injuries include dismemberment, death, disfigurement, or permanent loss of function in a body part.
Even in cases of drunk driving, the prerequisite of permanent injury for non-economic damages applies. In the Woodworth v. Joyce case, the Appellate Division of the Superior Court denied the plaintiffs the ability to sue for non-economic damages, despite the driver’s fault in causing the accident while driving with a 0.16 blood-alcohol level. The plaintiffs had to prove that they sustained permanent injuries to be eligible for non-economic damages.
The process of collecting damages through insurance
Winning a lawsuit against a drunk driver is only half the battle. The court’s ordered judgment is only helpful if the driver can pay it. However, it is often the case that they are unable to pay on their own, and this raises concerns about insurance coverage.
Under New Jersey Statute 39:6B-1, every driver must have a car insurance policy that includes a minimum of $15,000 in personal injury liability coverage. Drivers may choose to purchase up to $250,000 in personal injury liability coverage, but this comes with higher premiums. If the drunk driver’s insurance coverage is insufficient to cover the verdict or if they were driving illegally without insurance, then the injured person’s car insurance becomes crucial.
New Jersey drivers who purchase car insurance have the option of buying uninsured motorist (UM) and underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage. UM coverage applies if the driver at fault was uninsured or if the accident was a hit-and-run where the driver at fault was never found. It pays what the driver at fault would be liable for, up to the policy limits of the UM coverage.UIM coverage applies if the driver at fault’s liability coverage is insufficient to cover the damages they caused. In such a case, the injured person will receive UIM benefits, equal to the amount that the driver at fault was unable to pay. For instance, if the drunk driver owed $45,000 in damages but had only $15,000 worth of insurance, the injured person would receive UIM benefits of $30,000.
A proficient personal injury attorney can evaluate the insurance situation early on and typically construct a strong case that convinces insurance companies to settle outside of court. As a matter of practice, this results in the injured party receiving higher compensation and avoiding a prolonged and arduous trial process.
Bringing a lawsuit against a bar or restaurant
The New Jersey statute 2A:22A-5, commonly referred to as the dram shop law, enables individuals injured by drunk drivers to file a lawsuit against the bar or restaurant where the driver was served alcohol. If a bar or restaurant served alcohol to someone who was visibly drunk or underaged, they may be held accountable for the damages caused by the intoxicated person.
Pursuing legal action against the bar where the driver consumed alcohol is advisable if insurance coverage is inadequate to cover all injury-related expenses. Holding the bar accountable provides an extra means of compensation for someone harmed by a drunk driver.
What Should I Do if I'm Injured by a Drunk Driver?
If a drunk driver has injured you or a loved one, reach out to Peter Michael Law for a complimentary consultation without delay. Our team of personal injury attorneys can assess the accident’s details and ensure that you receive the full compensation you are entitled to. Dial 201-500-5500 now to schedule an appointment.