What to Know About New Jersey Drunk Driving Accidents

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by Matt Bonanno, Esq.

New Jersey Drunk Driving Accidents

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), about 32 people die in drunk driving-related accidents daily. Along with the deaths, drunk drivers are responsible for causing serious injuries and costly damages to the accident victims.

Drunk Driving Accident Victims

The consequences can be devastating for the victims of a drunk driving accident. In some cases, the injured parties will need ongoing medical treatment to return to their daily lives. However, the pain is unimaginable for families who have lost a family member to drunk driving. These families must learn to live without a loved one, often facing difficult financial challenges along the way,

Research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has shown that more than 10,000 people have died in accidents with impaired drivers. In many cases, young children are seriously injured or killed in these collisions. About 16% of fatal accidents have involved a child.

Drunk Drivers Are More Likely to Cause Accidents

When someone has a high blood alcohol level, he or she is often unable to maintain control of a car. These drivers have decreased judgment and reaction times. A person may assume that he or she is fine to drive, but his or her physical and cognitive abilities have been impaired by alcohol.

Unfortunately, drunk drivers are more likely to engage in risky behavior on the road, such as driving on the wrong side, speeding or road rage. In a flash, other drivers may have to attempt to avoid a catastrophic accident.

Drunk Driving Civil and Criminal Penalties

When someone is injured in a drunk driving accident, he or she may be able to receive compensation. Families who lost a loved one may also be able to bring a lawsuit against the responsible party. Civil cases are not the only problem for a drunk driver. If law enforcement authorities believe alcohol was a factor in an accident, they can pursue a criminal case.

A drunk driver’s criminal trial will have different standards from a civil lawsuit. The state pursues criminal charges, but the injured party can file a civil lawsuit against the drunk driver. If the judge or jury agrees that the drunk driver was responsible for the accident in a civil trial, the individual will have to compensate the other party.

A criminal trial will determine whether a drunk driver must pay a fine or face jail time for his or her actions. In some situations, if the drunk driver was convicted in a criminal case, it may be easier for the plaintiff to prove his or her civil allegations against the driver.

When consulting with a car accident lawyer, these injured parties may be able to discover the best legal options for their case.

Common Injuries in Drunk Driving Accidents

The consequences may be severe when a driver loses control of his or her vehicle. Many injuries can affect an individual’s physical and mental health for the remainder of that person’s life. Along with that, a victim must deal with costly medical bills.

The impact of a drunk driving accident is amplified, especially when reckless behavior is involved. Some of the most common injuries sustained in a drunk driving accident include:

Individuals with serious injuries may not know the severity of the problem until a medical doctor has examined them. Some injuries, such as concussions, can easily be masked by adrenaline and shock. For that reason, everyone involved in a drunk driving accident must go to a hospital or schedule an examination by a doctor. A timely diagnosis often increases the chances of a full recovery. Unfortunately, not everyone injured in a drunk driving accident will be able to recover. Usually, the accident will cause lifetime injuries that need constant medical care.

What to Do After a Drunk Driving Accident

Like any other type of accident, there are a few steps to take after a crash with a drunk driver. By taking these steps, you may be able to protect your legal rights.

First, you always want to call the police. Tell the dispatcher that a drunk driver has hit you. The police will respond to your accident site. Law enforcement and emergency personnel understand the importance of a timely response to these accidents.

While you may feel fine after an accident, you still need to check for any injuries to you or other passengers. Always have a medical professional examine you for any issues. You never want to self-diagnose yourself at the scene.

After an accident, you never want to confront an intoxicated driver. In some cases, these individuals could become belligerent and harm you. Stay inside your vehicle until the police have arrived.

Yes, you want the police to do their job, but make sure to get the name and contact information of any person who witnessed the accident. That eyewitness testimony could become a powerful piece of evidence in both criminal and civil cases. In addition, you should keep your comments to a minimum. Only talk to the investigating officer. Anything you say can be used as evidence against you.

After leaving the accident scene, you need to get a medical examination. Even if the EMT has examined you, set up an appointment with your primary care doctor. Some injuries from a drunk driving accident can show up days after the incident. For example, whiplash is usually not evident at the moment of the accident, but the symptoms can develop over the next few days. When you visit your doctor, it will start a document trail of your medical treatments. Those records may be significant evidence if you pursue a civil case.

You will also want a copy of your official crash report. Get a copy from the reporting agency or the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission. After you receive the report, you will want to check it to ensure all the details are correct. The report will list your basic contact information. Along with that, it contains other vital details about the accident scene. The report may even specify if the drunk driver was charged with a crime. Many of these reports will document the investigating officer’s observations, which can help determine whether the driver was impaired.

In most cases, an insurance adjuster will contact you. The insurance company may want to talk to you if the drunk driver was at fault. Keep in mind that you don’t have to speak to them. Anything you say can be used to reduce your compensation or deny an injury claim.

Social media is everywhere. While you may want to make a post or video about the incident, go off the grid. An insurance adjuster could look up your accounts and use those posts as evidence against you.

Finally, you may want to speak to a drunk driving accident attorney. A quick consultation could help you determine how to proceed with your legal case.

Consult a Motor Vehicle Accident Lawyer

You may want to talk to an attorney if you have been involved in an accident with a drunk driver. At Rebenack Aronow & Mascolo, L.L.P., our attorneys will examine your case details so that you can decide about pursuing potential compensation. You can visit our website or call our New Brunswick or Somerset offices at (732) 394-1549 to schedule a consultation.

Contact Our Office

To schedule a confidential consultation, contact us online or call our offices, in New Brunswick at (732) 247-3600, in Somerville at (908) 448-2560, or in Freehold at (732) 828-2234.

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