Because drunk driving is a crime, there’s an assumption that the impaired driver is automatically at fault. But is that always the case? Are there situations where a drunk driver isn’t fully to blame? If you’re considering filing a personal injury lawsuit against a drunk driver, it might be helpful to your case to find out.
In many cases, the drunk driver is at fault. However, that isn’t always the case. Whether or not a drunk driver is at fault for a car accident or taxi accident depends on the details of the accident itself. If you’ve been involved in a car accident with a drunk driver and want to sue, it’s best to enlist an experienced New Jersey car accident attorney for help.
Our team of dedicated New Jersey personal injury lawyers can fight to get you the compensation you deserve. If you were involved in a car accident caused by a drunk driver, reach out to our attorneys for a free consultation. Call us today at (732) 838-9769 to speak with our Newark, NJ Bicycle Accident Lawyer.
When Is a Driver Automatically at Fault for Drunk Driving Accident in New Jersey?
There’s a misconception that an accident involving a drunk driver is easy to win as a plaintiff. However, sometimes a car accident isn’t caused by the intoxicated driver involved. In some cases, a drunk driver may only be partially responsible. In others still, the drunk driver may be wholly to blame. It all depends on the facts of the case.
A drunk driver can be automatically at fault for an accident if their impairment directly caused the collision. For instance, if a driver operated their vehicle on the wrong side of the road because they were intoxicated, they’d be at fault for the accident. Drunk driving is not only a crime but also a breach of a driver’s legal duty All drivers accept a certain level of responsibility behind the wheel and are required to abide by traffic laws. Violating those traffic laws can result in an accident. If that happens, the driver who broke the law is at fault. In New Jersey, a person is drunk driving when they operate their vehicle while having a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or higher or enough alcohol in their system to impair their driving.
When Drunk Drivers Might Not Be at Fault
However, there are other situations where a driver’s blood-alcohol level may be irrelevant. For example, if Driver A rear-ended Driver B, whether Driver B was drunk or not might not matter. In most fender-benders, Driver A would be at fault for pushing Drive B into you. This all depends on the circumstances of the collision.
In any car accident case, you must prove that a driver’s mistakes or traffic violations actually caused the accident. In a situation like this, the driver’s violation – driving while intoxicated – did not actually affect whether or not the accident would have happened. Because of that, they might be as much of a victim as you were, and the court could award you both damages paid by Driver A at the back of the pileup.
Sometimes, a drunk driver might only be partially to blame for an accident. Collisions that aren’t necessarily caused by impairment, but are facilitated by it, can be partly the fault of a drunk driver. That’s because drunk driving is illegal and a violation of a driver’s legal duty.
What Constitutes Drunk Driving in New Jersey?
In New Jersey, operating a vehicle with a 0.08% blood alcohol content (BAC) or higher is considered drunk driving, as is driving with enough alcohol in your system to impair your driving (even if you are under 0.08). This act is illegal because it can greatly endanger fellow drivers on the road.
Getting behind the wheel while impaired can pose serious risks. Not only is it a crime, but it can warrant civil litigation and result in injury to yourself or other people. When a person’s BAC is 0.08% or higher, they can lose their ability to think and act rationally.
When your BAC is above the legal limit to operate a vehicle, you can become drowsy, unaware, and incoherent. Drivers can fall asleep at the wheel or become unable to respond to happenings on the road. This can cause damage to themselves and other drivers.
Drunk driving is a serious offense as it is completely avoidable. After drinking alcohol, refrain from driving. Doing so can save your life and the lives of others.
How New Jersey’s No-Fault Insurance Laws Apply in Drunk Driving Cases
Some states have strict laws for auto accidents. New Jersey is a no-fault choice state. This means that drivers can purchase personal injury protection, or PIP, coverage to help compensate them for medical expenses or lost wages following an accident. But how does PIP protect victims, and do those protections extend to drunk drivers?
Drivers might choose to purchase PIP insurance to eliminate the need to sue after an accident. While some accidents aren’t covered by PIP, being hit by a drunk driver is. If you were injured by an impaired driver in New Jersey and have personal injury protection insurance, it might eliminate the need to file a lawsuit for compensation.
After a car accident in New Jersey, all parties involved must file a claim with their insurance, regardless of fault. Having PIP insurance can be a relief for victims of drunk driving accidents. However, this insurance might not pay enough, and a lawsuit might be in order.
It’s important to note that if your PIP insurance does not fully cover your medical expenses or lost wages and your injuries are severe, you can still sue the negligent driver. Because drunk drivers are often at fault for an accident, it’s unlikely that New Jersey’s comparative negligence laws will impact a plaintiff’s damages. However, it is possible if a plaintiff is partially to blame for the injuries they sustained in an accident.
If you do decide to file a personal injury lawsuit against an impaired driver, consider the statute of limitations, too. In New Jersey, the filing deadline is two years from the date of injury.
Call Our Attorneys if You Were Involved in a Drunk Driving Accident
When you want to file a personal injury claim after a car accident caused by a drunk driver, reach out to our experienced New Jersey car accident attorneys. For a free consultation, call Legal Care New Jersey today at (732) 838-9769.