When someone gets behind the wheel after having too much to drink, they have already established they don’t care about breaking the rules or putting themselves at risk. You might also learn after a crash caused by a drunk driver that they don’t have insurance on their vehicle or that they have a very low amount of coverage that falls far short of the cost they created.
People who live irresponsible lifestyles may also have low income or few personal assets, meaning that you may not be in a position to recover your losses by taking the drunk driver themselves to court. Sometimes, those negatively affected by an intoxicated driver can bring a claim against not the driver but rather the bar or restaurant that served that individual alcohol prior to the crash.
Might that be an option in your case?
What New York law permits
Under a dram shop liability claim, you can hold a business responsible for improper alcohol service. So long as an employee at an establishment licensed to dispense alcohol breaks the laws limiting such service, people negatively affected may have grounds for claims against the company.
Any business that sells or serves alcohol to a minor could have legal liability if that underage patron causes a crash later. New York law also prohibits the sale of alcohol to someone who is already visibly intoxicated. If someone asks for one more for the road when they can barely stand up, the wait staff should tell them no instead of allowing them to become even more intoxicated.
When a business violates alcohol laws and sells to someone they should not, they have liability if that patron ends up causing a crash.
How do dram shop claims work?
When you confirm your suspicions that the drunk driver who hit you had too much to drink at a local restaurant, you may be able to bring a claim against that business’s liability insurance. In some cases, you may end up going to court. You can expect that a business owner or their insurance company will aggressively try to counter or negotiate claims of dram shop liability, so you will need to prepare to advocate for yourself.
Learning more about the laws that protect you when a drunk driver hurts you can help you get compensation for those losses in court.