Super Bowl Sunday, the biggest day of the year in the National Football League, is almost here. It’s February 7, and although the big game will be played three thousand miles from New York – and even though no teams that call New York home will be playing – law enforcement agencies in every region of New York State are getting ready to do what they do on every Super Bowl Sunday. Officers will be aggressively looking for drunk drivers and taking them off New York’s streets and highways. Your chances of being stopped or arrested for driving while intoxicated are almost double on Super Bowl Sunday – compared to a more typical Sunday in January or February – and your odds of being injured by an intoxicated driver also nearly double on Super Bowl Sunday.

For a number of years, intoxicated driving on the day of the Super Bowl has been a growing public safety concern. Before last year’s Super Bowl, Governor Andrew Cuomo declared, “New York State has zero tolerance for impaired driving and for the needless tragedy that it causes.” State and local law enforcement agencies will be putting more officers on New York’s streets and highways, conducting more sobriety checkpoints in more locations, and making more stops for suspicion of DWI and more arrests for DWI (driving while intoxicated) and for DWAI (driving while ability impaired). If you are injured by a drunk driver on Super Bowl Sunday – or on any other day – discuss your rights and options with a good personal injury lawyer, and in the New York City area, contact an experienced Bronx personal injury attorney about your case as quickly as possible if you’ve been injured.

Drivers and passengers injured by drunk or otherwise negligent drivers are entitled under New York’s personal injury laws to full reimbursement for their medical treatment, lost wages, and all additional injury-related losses and expenses. In 2012, more than 10,000 fatalities were reported in the United States in alcohol-related traffic collisions. That’s about one fatality every 51 minutes. In New York State in 2014 alone, according to the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, alcohol played a role in 270 fatal crashes and in 3,974 personal injury accidents. Whenever you drive in New York or ride as a passenger, it’s likely that an impaired driver is somewhere on the road with you, and on Super Bowl Sunday, it’s almost twice as likely. If you’re driving on Super Bowl Sunday, take extra precautions.

WHAT WILL YOU HAVE TO PROVE?

In the state of New York – like all other states – a driver is legally too intoxicated to drive if his or her blood alcohol content (BAC) level is 0.08 percent or higher. Impaired drivers responsible for accidents are almost always prosecuted in the criminal courts, but a drunk driver who injures you can also be sued for civil damages. To prevail with a personal injury claim, you must prove that you were in fact injured and that the other driver’s negligence is the reason there was an accident and injury. However, to establish that the motorist who injured you was in fact liable for the injury, you do not have to prove that he or she was legally intoxicated. You can file a personal injury claim if you are injured by a driver who was in any way negligent or distracted at the time of the accident. Nevertheless, a breathalyzer test result on the high side or a DWI conviction by a New York criminal court will certainly enhance your personal injury claim.

If you are injured by an impaired driver, let a good personal injury lawyer manage your personal injury claim and negotiate a settlement on your behalf. Your attorney will arrange for an acceptable settlement, and if an acceptable settlement is not possible, your lawyer can take your case before a jury. If a trial is needed – and in more than nine out of ten personal injury cases, it’s not – your personal injury lawyer will craft an appropriate trial strategy and make certain that your story is plainly told to the jury and clearly understood.

WHAT’S THE BEST GAME PLAN?

Of course, the best game plan for Super Bowl Sunday means no injuries for you and your passengers and loved ones. As part of its annual “Fans Don’t Let Fans Drive Drunk” safety awareness campaign tied to this year’s big game, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration offers these safety suggestions for this year’s Super Bowl:

  1. Arrange in advance to get home safely if you plan to enjoy drinks with friends. If someone you trust will act as a designated driver, let that person drive, or arrange for a ride service, a limo, a taxi, a room, or a friend’s sofa.
  2. Even if you start with the best intentions, several drinks can cloud anyone’s judgment. Leave your keys home and get a safe ride to your destination as well as a safe return ride. That way, you can’t be tempted to drive after drinking.
  3. Don’t let your friends drive while impaired either. Help them find a safe way home. You might even consider being the designated driver for your friends.
  4. Don’t drive under any circumstances until you are fully and completely sober.
  5. Wear your seat belt. On Super Bowl Sunday, others will be driving under the influence even if you are not. If you will be driving on the day of the game, check your tire pressure, windshield wipers, brakes, and all of your lights ahead of time.
  6. After the game, it’s dark, and drivers may be impaired, so if you’re walking – especially in the New York City area – try to have a friend accompany you.

If a drunk or negligent driver injures you in an accident – on the day of the Super Bowl or at any other time – try to stay calm and think clearly. Immediately after an accident, you need to take several very important steps immediately. The top priority is to seek medical attention for yourself and for anyone else who’s been injured. After summoning medical help, call the police. You’ll need a copy of the accident report, and you may need their testimony as witnesses if you file a personal injury claim. Ask any other witnesses for their names and for a way to reach them. You must obtain the other driver’s name, contact information, and insurance information. Most drivers will be helpful, but if the other driver is injured, impaired, or hostile, ask the police to help you get the information you need.

It’s almost imperative in personal injury cases today to take photos of the accident site, the vehicle damages, and your own injuries. Photos can be powerful and persuasive evidence. Take the photos or have someone take them – you can’t have too many. Ensure that you can prove the date that the photographs were taken. Also make and keep copies of every document related to the accident: medical bills, test results, the police report, and any other pertinent paperwork.

WHAT WILL AN ATTORNEY DO FOR YOU?

Subsequent to any traffic collision, do not admit to anything. Sign no insurance forms or documents, and don’t even discuss your case with an insurance company or with an insurance representative prior to speaking with a good personal injury attorney. Typically, an insurance company will try to cajole an accident victim into accepting a quick accident settlement. Don’t. An insurance company may offer you an amount far below the actual value of your personal injury claim. Moreover, if you accept a quick settlement, you may be precluded from further legal action if your injury is more serious than it first appears. When an accident victim is disabled or permanently injured, that victim will need the maximum possible compensation. An experienced personal injury attorney is a trained and seasoned negotiator who can handle the negotiating on your behalf.

However, if a settlement cannot be reached for any reason, your personal injury attorney should also have substantial trial experience and should be ready to present your claim to a jury. If you pursue a personal injury claim, it will also be vital to keep all of your medical appointments. You not only need proper and timely treatment for your injuries, but your medical appointments also create the records and documents that your attorney will need to advocate effectively on your behalf.

“Don’t Drink and Drive” is still the number one key to safe driving. Even if you take precautions and only drive when you’re sober, there is still no final, foolproof way to protect yourself and your loved ones from a drunk driver’s irresponsible choices and behavior. If you are injured by a drunk driver – or by a distracted or otherwise negligent driver – take action at once. Evidence gets corrupted and memories fade, so you must put a good personal injury lawyer on the case without delay. If you are injured by negligence on Super Bowl Sunday or any other day of the year, speak as quickly as possible to a good personal injury lawyer, and in the New York City area, speak with an experienced Bronx personal injury attorney and get the legal help you need.