What to Do When You Get in a Car Accident With a Drunk Driver
In our last blog, we stressed the importance of not drinking and driving over the New Year’s weekend. But what does happen if you get into a drunk driving accident…but you’re the sober one?
For example, let’s say you are the designated driver for the evening. You haven’t had a drop to drink all night. As you drive your less-than-sober friends home, another partygoer swerves into your car. Not only is your car severely damaged, but you and one of your passengers are hurt in the accident. What happens next? Who is responsible for your passenger’s injuries? And can you sue the drunken driver for the damages?
First, it’s important to know the legal implications the drunk driver faces. As we’ve mentioned in the past, New Jersey has strict laws when it comes to driving drunk. You could face time in prison, a license suspension, and some hefty fines — and that’s just for the first offense. But when an intoxicated driver causes an accident that results in an injury, that driver will be facing aggravated assault charges, regardless of fault. If the accident results in a fatality, then the driver will be charged with death by auto.
But if you’re the victim of a drunk driving accident, is it possible that you can sue the driver for your injuries? Yes, you can! As can the passengers in your car who were injured in the accident. You can sue for property damage, medical expenses, pain and suffering, and if the accident resulted in a death, funeral expenses.
Although you can sue for injuries after the accident, who will pay for your passenger’s injuries at this time? Will it come out of your pocket?
In New Jersey, when you get into an accident as a passenger in someone else’s vehicle, your injuries will be taken care of by that driver’s personal injury protection insurance, better known as PIP insurance. This type of insurance will cover the medical bills of any passengers involved in the accident. It can also provide for lost wages and survivor benefits if the passenger had died in the accident.
But remember, there are limits to PIP insurance. In New Jersey, the minimum insurance amount a driver can have is $15,000 per person per accident. And if the accident is severe enough, this amount may not cover the medical expenses. But the passenger will have the option to sue the drunk driver as well — despite being intoxicated at the time of the accident.
As you can imagine, this can all get very complicated very quickly. That’s why it’s best to speak with an experienced New Jersey car accident attorney to see what legal options are available to you. If you or someone you love get into an accident with a drunk driver this New Year’s weekend, it’s time to get legal help. Contact Jersey City drunk driving accident lawyer Anthony Carbone today for a free consultation.