Drunk driving offenses are often punished quite harshly in criminal court. That is because drunk drivers are a serious danger to the safety of other drivers and pedestrians. Drunk driving is one of the leading causes of motor vehicle accidents and deaths.
At the Morelli Law Firm, we have extensive experience fighting for the victims of drunk driving accidents. Contact us today to schedule a free, no-obligation case review. Our Newark drunk driving accident lawyers will review your case and advise you of your options for pursuing compensation.
Are Drunk Drivers Always Liable in an Accident?
Determining liability after a car accident is essential. Sometimes, identifying the liable party can be difficult. However, if one of the drivers was drunk, assigning liability tends to be far simpler. The drunk driver is typically assumed to be at fault.
Even in cases where the actions of one driver clearly led to the accident, if the other driver was drunk, they likely will be determined to at least share in the fault.
When it comes to assigning fault in a drunk driving accident in Newark, it is important to keep in mind that New Jersey is a no-fault state. Because of this, there are only certain instances where you can pursue compensation for your injuries.
What Is a No-Fault State?
No-fault states work under the principle that drivers should recover compensation from their own insurance after an accident, regardless of who is at fault. The main purpose of this system is to limit the number of lawsuits that the state has to deal with every year. About a dozen states operate under a no-fault system.
However, there are many situations in which a driver can file a lawsuit after a collision. Generally, two things must be true to pursue a lawsuit against another driver after an accident in a no-fault state.
First, you must be able to prove that you suffered a serious injury. Second, you must be able to show that the other party was at fault.
Because drunk driving accidents often result in serious injuries, and the drunk drivers are typically at fault, many drunk driving accidents in Newark result in lawsuits, despite New Jersey being a no-fault state.
Newark Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer Near Me 877-751-9800
What a Newark Drunk Driving Accident Attorney Will Do for You
If you decide to pursue a lawsuit after a DUI wreck, the first step you will likely take is to hire a drunk driving accident lawyer in Newark. Upon being hired, your lawyer will immediately begin an inquiry into your accident. The purpose of the investigation will be two-fold. They will be looking to prove fault and to show the extent of the damages you have suffered.
Your attorney or their investigative team will visit the scene of your accident, take pictures, and collect any other evidence they may find at the scene. They will then speak with any potential witnesses, consult with experts, obtain a copy of your accident report, and review your relevant medical records.
After concluding their initial investigation, your attorney will assess your total damages and file your lawsuit with the court. They will then complete all the steps of the pretrial process. Throughout, they will be in constant negotiations with the opposing counsel, attempting to reach an agreeable settlement. If a settlement can not be reached, they will represent you in court.
What Is the Cost of Hiring a Drunk Driving Accident Attorney?
When most people consider hiring an attorney, they think about the high cost. With some lawyers, even a simple phone call can result in a substantial bill. However, this does not hold true in most personal injury cases. Generally, personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis. That means that they don’t get paid unless you receive compensation.
When a lawyer does receive money in a personal injury case, it comes as a predetermined percentage of the final payout. Because of this payment structure, clients will never pay a penny out-of-pocket for their legal costs. Additionally, accident victims can feel confident that their attorney will do everything in their power to secure the most money possible for their damages.
In the vast majority of cases, people who hire legal representation end up with far more money when the dust has settled than those who attempt to represent themselves. That alone makes it worth hiring a drunk driving accident attorney in Newark.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for Filing a Lawsuit?
In most cases, an accident victim in New Jersey has two years from the date of the accident to file a claim. However, there are special circumstances that can make that timeframe much smaller. Hire a Newark drunk driving accident attorney as soon as possible to ensure you don’t miss your window to file.
Whether you have two years or a matter of weeks to file a claim, it is always best to get started early. The longer you wait to file your claim, the less reliable witness testimony becomes. Additionally, evidence can become lost or degraded over time.
Damages You May Be Eligible to Claim
After an injury resulting from an accident caused by a drunk driver, there are many damages you may be eligible to claim. There are three main categories under which you can pursue money after an accident:
- Economic damages
- Non-economic damages
- Punitive damages
Economic damages cover the losses you suffered that have an identifiable monetary value. Common economic damages include:
- Medical costs
- Future medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Lost earning capacity
- Property damage
All of these things take money out of your pocket in one way or another. Some of them, like medical costs and property damage, are very straightforward. Others, like lost earning capacity, can be a bit trickier to calculate. However, they all come down to attempting to replace the money the accident cost you at a dollar-for-dollar ratio.
Non-economic damages are costs that are a bit more difficult to quantify. Common non-economic damages include:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Loss of companionship
- Permanent disability
These are all things that may not cost you financially but diminish your quality of life. There is no way to properly compensate a person for these losses. No amount of money could ever be enough. Unfortunately, financial compensation is the best our legal system has to offer. Because of this, non-economic damages tend to account for the largest part of a payout in these cases.
Unlike the damages listed above, punitive damages are not meant to compensate an accident victim for any losses they have suffered. Instead, punitive damages are aimed at punishing the liable party.
Punitive damages are only awarded in cases where the at-fault party is deemed to have acted in a grossly negligent manner. In drunk driving accidents, punitive damages are fairly routine.
Hiring a DUI Accident Attorney in Newark
When you are dealing with serious injuries after a drunk driving accident, it is essential that you receive the compensation necessary to get your life back on track. The best way to do that is by hiring an experienced drunk driving accident lawyer in Newark. At the Morelli Law Firm, our legal team has years of experience helping accident victims recover fair compensation.
Give us a call or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free consultation today. One of our lawyers will review your case and advise you of all your legal rights, with no obligation to retain our services.