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

Police are constantly on the lookout for signs of impaired drivers. Despite strict laws and harsh penalties for drunk driving, alcohol plays a significant role in accidents in New York and New Jersey. Nearly 11,000 deaths were attributed to alcohol-impaired driving crashes in 2017. In addition to fatalities and serious personal injuries, there is also the issue of significant property damage.

If a drunk driver hits your vehicle and damages it, will your auto insurance cover the cost of repairs?

Yes, if you carry sufficient uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage. However, even with this coverage, insurance companies can be uncooperative when it comes to paying out the full value of your property.

That is why it is helpful to seek guidance from a skilled car accident lawyer who can investigate your case and fight for the most favorable outcome. Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman attorneys leverage decades of experience helping people maximize their recovery. There are time limits for pursuing compensation in an auto accident claim. The sooner you contact us, the better your chances of success.

Uninsured and Underinsured claims

Both New Jersey and New York have no-fault insurance rules. This means your auto insurance carrier is responsible for compensating you up to your policy limits– for property damage and related medical expenses. However, what happens if your car is totaled and the cost of repairs surpasses the limits of your policy?

For example, let’s say you purchased $50,000 UM/UIM coverage. While your car was parked, a drunk driver sideswipes it, causing over $20,000 in damages. This repair bill exceeds your coverage limits by $10,000, but your UIM policy kicks in to make up the difference.

Even if you have faithfully paid your insurance premiums for years, your insurance company is not necessarily on your side. After all, they are in the business of making money, not protecting their clients.  Negotiating a UM / UIM claim takes the knowledge and resources of a qualified attorney.

Basic auto insurance requirements for NY and NJ

The following are the minimal requirements for auto insurance in New York and New Jersey. Motorists are encouraged to purchase higher policy limits if they are financially able to do so.

New York

  • $25,000 per person, $50,000 per accident for bodily injury
  • $50,000 per person, $100,000 per accident for death
  • $10,000 property damage liability
  • $25,000 per person for uninsured/underinsured motorist liability; $50,000 per accident

New Jersey

  • $15,000 per person for bodily injury or death, or $30,00o per accident
  • $5,000 for property damage liability
  • $15,000 in personal injury protection (PIP) and up $250,000 for certain injuries
  •  $15,000 (Optional) uninsured/underinsured motorist

What other remedies are available?

If you and the DUI offender are both uninsured, you will find it nearly impossible to recover for any property damages. However, if the accident caused “serious injury,” then you may be eligible to file a personal injury lawsuit against the drunk driver, assuming they have assets.

In some cases, third parties may also be sued for damages. Under New York’s Dram Shop laws, victims can take legal action against a restaurant, bar or store employee who sold alcohol to the person who hit you if they were under the age of 21, or “visibly intoxicated.”

The state of New York also imposes a “host” liability law, which allows victims of underage drunk drivers to sue hosts who provided the underage motorist with alcohol.

To prove either of these types of claims, it is vital to retain a capable attorney who can begin investigations right away.

Legal help from Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman

The car accident lawyers of Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman represent clients throughout Rockland County, New York, and Bergen County, New Jersey.  If your vehicle was damaged by a drunk driver, or you were injured in a crash, we invite you to reach out for a free, no-obligation consultation.

Our legal team can help you seek full and fair compensation and get your life back on track. There is no risk since our services are offered on a contingency basis, meaning there are no fees until we secure money damages in your claim.