Heading home from work, class, or after a nice dinner out with friends in Syracuse, you never expect to get into an accident. Even if you’re traveling the treacherous I-81 and I-690 interchange, you never expect that you will be one of the cars involved in an accident.
But sometimes, you have no control over it, especially when another driver makes a poor decision to get behind the wheel after having too many drinks. Whether they drive drunk regularly or they just had a few too many at happy hour, drunk driving can cause serious accidents. Drunk drivers are impaired drivers, and their reaction times are much slower.
If your or a loved one has suffered injuries in a car crash caused by a drunk driver, an experienced Syracuse drunk driving accident lawyer can help you hold negligent drivers responsible for their actions, and work to help you recover the maximum compensation for your injuries.
Why Drunk Driving Is so Dangerous
Drunk driving, a form of impaired driving, is extremely dangerous. When someone gets behind the wheel, they need to be alert. They need to be focused on the task at hand. They must react quickly. If you’ve ever driven an older German car, for example, they usually don’t have cup holders. The thought was that drivers should not have any distractions, including water.
When a driver is drunk, they cannot react quickly to dangerous situations or potential hazards on the road. That delayed reaction time can have tragic consequences. Usually, the other driver, not the drunk driver, shoulders those consequences. Most serious injuries in drunk driving accidents happen to people other than the drunk driver.
These injuries often cause life-altering situations for the victim. This may require extensive and expensive medical care, including ongoing needs. It may also mean that the victim cannot return to work and may not have a source of income. Millions of Americans are just one missed paycheck away from poverty, and the number one cause of bankruptcies every year is astronomical medical bills.
But you don’t have to suffer this same fate. You can take action and hold the negligent drunk driver liable for your injuries and your medical expenses. You do that by partnering with a skilled Syracuse drunk driving accident injury lawyer as soon as possible after your accident.
Common Syracuse Drunk Driving Accident Injuries
No matter where in Syracuse you were injured by a drunk driver, the result is the same—you have serious injuries that may require you to put your life on hold.
Common injuries include:
- Sprains and strains
- Broken bones
- Neck injuries
- Back injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Concussions and other traumatic brain injuries
Many of these injuries will require intense medical treatment and rehabilitation. Even minor injuries can cause substantial medical bills. Concussions, one of the most common car crash injuries, can cost the victim millions of dollars in lifetime treatment.
What’s important to remember is that these costs are not your burden to bear. Your sole focus during this difficult time is to follow your doctor’s orders and get better. Your legal team can take on the responsibility of holding the negligent driver liable for your injuries and medical expenses.
But you cannot delay. From the date of your accident, you only have three years to pursue the negligent driver for damages. Your lawyer will need as much time as possible to investigate your accident and determine the exact cause. They may need time to work with accident reconstruction experts to show how the drunk driver caused your accident. They will also likely need time to work with medical experts to get a full understanding of how much money you need to recover.
The last thing you want right now is worrying about how you will pay your medical bills, let alone your regular expenses. Knowing how much money you need to recover so that you do not pay a penny out of your own pocket is vital to ensuring that you do not go into financial hardship because of an accident you did not cause. Giving your lawyer as much time as possible to conduct all of this evidence-gathering gives you a better chance of recovery.
When you file a claim against the drunk driver, your goal is to recover maximum compensation. You want to make sure that your money stays in your pocket and the negligent driver pays for your medical recovery.
Your lawyer may try to get you compensation for:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Lost income
- Lost earning potential
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of life enjoyment
- Present and future medical expenses
- Rehabilitation costs
In the most serious cases, victims of drunk driving accidents may never fully recover. In those instances, the victims may need a substantial sum of money to cover all of their needs. Because they likely won’t return to work, at least not in the same capacity as before their accident, they may also be eligible to collect additional sums of money for their lost earning potential.
This could substantially increase your recovery, but to give yourself the best opportunity, you need to partner with a knowledgeable drunk driving accident injury attorney in Syracuse.
Even if your injuries do not threaten or change your life, you may still face an uphill battle for your physical recovery.
During this time, you may experience:
- Multiple medical procedures
- Extended hospital stays
- Long periods of time out of work
Each of these items adds up. Medical bills pile up and financial losses get larger. Together, this can create a worrying situation for people in your position. But it’s important that you not lose focus, and work with an aggressive Syracuse drunk driving accident injury attorney who can help you hold the negligent driver accountable. Your lawyer may show that the drunk driver caused your injuries and should be responsible for all of your expenses.
A Criminal Case Won’t Get You Money
When someone drives drunk and causes an accident, they may face criminal charges. If the prosecutor decides to file charges against the drunk driver who caused your accident, you might think that you don’t need a lawyer to help you file a civil claim. That’s an incorrect assumption, and it could leave you in a tough financial spot.
Criminal cases are separate from civil cases, even if they arise from the same event. If the drunk driver is found guilty, they may be required to pay some money to you as restitution. This money is not guaranteed, however, and it is never substantial. It will likely not even come close to covering all of your medical bills and lost income.
To give yourself the best chance of collecting maximum compensation to cover all of your needs and avoid paying a dime out of your own pocket, you need to file a civil claim, separate and distinct from the criminal case. In the end, a criminal conviction of the drunk driver may help your lawyer negotiate a larger settlement, but you still need to have an open and pending civil case, an Albany drunk driving accident claim. Without that, you risk missing out on your chance to collect every dollar you deserve from the drunk driver.
Insurance Adjusters Aren’t Looking out for You
Many drunk driving accident injury victims in Syracuse get a phone call from the insurance company representing the drunk driver. This may even happen just a day or two after the accident. Many victims get excited about this call because they hope it means that they can put the legal process behind them and move on with their physical recovery.
Ultimately, that’s rarely the case. The insurance adjuster has strict instructions to settle your case for as little money as possible. The goal is to make you go away for as little money as possible. Unfortunately for some Syracuse drunk driving accident victims, the insurance adjuster is successful.
This is why it’s vital to have a lawyer at your side from day one. The insurance adjuster may make you a settlement offer. They may tell you the offer is only good for one day and that you don’t need a lawyer to review it for you. All a lawyer will do is take money to review the settlement and won’t get you a larger sum. That’s a lie.
Many times, a lawyer can help you increase your settlement and may protect your rights, too. What the insurance adjuster will not tell you is that once you sign the settlement offer, you cannot come back to them later and request more money. Ultimately, that’s a real possibility. Without a lawyer at your side, you may not realize just how much money you need to collect to cover all of your medical bills and financial losses. If you sign the settlement offer and it ends up being too little, you have no recourse. You may end up having to pay out of your own pocket to cover those needs.
When you partner with an experienced and aggressive Syracuse drunk driving accident lawyer, you gain access to their knowledge and experience dealing with insurance companies. Your lawyer always has your best interests in mind, unlike the insurance company. Your lawyer will accurately and honestly advise you of your rights. They will also work tirelessly to help you recover every dollar you deserve so you can focus all of your effort and energy on your physical recovery.
Syracuse Drunk Driving Accident Injury Lawyers Get Results
When you suffer injuries in a drunk driving accident in Syracuse, the last thing on your mind is filing a claim for damages against the negligent driver. Once you speak with a trusted legal advisor, you don’t have to think about it again. But you must act fast. The longer you wait, the more likely it is that witnesses will forget what they saw and that other evidence may no longer be available. The sooner you partner with a lawyer, the sooner you can get better.
The choice of a car accident lawyer is a personal decision and not one to take lightly. Above all, you want to partner with a lawyer who has experience helping members of the Syracuse community recover from their injuries. You want a lawyer who is not afraid to stand up to the big insurance companies and fight to get victims like you every dollar they deserve.
Mr. Finkelstein is the Managing Partner of Finkelstein & Partners, LLP. He has become a noted consumer activist through his representation of injured individuals against corporate wrongdoers and irresponsible parties.
An accomplished litigator, Mr. Finkelstein has represented Plaintiffs in wrongful death and catastrophic personal injury cases. He has successfully handled dozens of multi-million dollar cases.