If a Drunk Driver Damaged My Car, Will My Auto Insurance Pay?

When it comes to car accidents, New York is a no-fault state. An insurance company will reimburse a motorist for any injuries– no matter who was at fault. However, no-fault insurance does not apply to property damage claims. You can pursue a lawsuit against a drunk driver for  damage to your vehicle, but much will depend on whether the person has sufficient insurance coverage or assets to make pursuing such a claim worthwhile.

The New York City car accident lawyers at Douglas and London can help you receive compensation for damage done to your motor vehicle.

How No-Fault Insurance Works

Approximately a dozen states follow the no-fault insurance model, and New York is one of them. Every motorist must carry a minimum amount of insurance. The current minimums include:

  • $25,000 in liability coverage for bodily injury per person when the driver is at-fault
  • $50,000 in total liability bodily injury coverage per accident when the driver is at fault. This is the minimum no matter how many people are injured in the crash
  • $10,000 liability coverage for property damage per accident for which the driver is at-fault
  • $50,000 in no-fault Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage

Keep in mind these are only the minimum requirements, and it is wise for most people to purchase additional coverage to protect their personal assets should a serious accident occur.

Policy Limits

The at-fault driver’s insurance company will only pay for damage to your vehicle up to the policy limits. If the drunk driver purchased only the $10,000 minimum in property damage liability coverage, and yours was an expensive vehicle– you will not receive more than that amount in damages.

However, if you have collision coverage on your vehicle, then your insurance company should pay the difference of the drunk driver’s policy limits and the cost of repairing your car. It does not matter whether the car was in exceptional running order or that you cannot replace it for its current book value.

Comprehensive coverage comes into play if the drunk driver hits your car while it was parked. When a driver hits a parked vehicle, there is an automatic assumption that they were at fault for the collision.

Dram Shop Laws

There is another avenue in which you may receive compensation for property damage involving an underage drunk driver, and that is under New York’s dram shop law. If your car was damaged by a drunk driver, you might sue the bar, restaurant, or “social host,” responsible for providing alcohol to the inebriated driver. However, dram shop laws do not apply to any third party legally providing alcohol to those over age 21.

Serious Injuries and Drunk Drivers

If you were badly injured by a drunk driver, and your injuries meet New York’s threshold of “serious,” you may pursue a personal injury lawsuit. That is also true if your economic losses exceed the $50,000 PIP limitation. New York law defines serious injury as:

  • Permanent loss of body organ, system or function
  • Dismemberment
  • Significant disfigurement
  • Death of a fetus

The law also allows a third-party lawsuit if the victim cannot conduct their daily activities for at least 90 days during the 180 days following the car accident.

If a family member is killed by a drunk driver, relatives may pursue a wrongful death lawsuit through their personal injury lawyer.

Contact a New York Car Accident Attorney

If your car was damaged by a drunk driver, or such a driver caused a serious injury, you need the services of the experienced New York City personal injury lawyers at Douglas and London. Arrange a free consultation by contacting us today. We will review your case and let you know your options.