Should I sue my friend for unsafe driving? what's the chances for winning the case?

Asked almost 2 years ago - Stony Brook, NY

I was a passenger in my friend's car and we were hit by a drunk driver. Our car rolled over four times and all four people in our car were sent to hospital. The car was totaled. My friend's BAC level did not pass the limit therefor he wasn't charged for DUI. However, what the police didn't know is that my friend is allergic to alcohol and his tolerance is lower than normal people. Before the accident happened, we saw the drunk driver ahead of us swerving between two lanes. We reminded him but he tried to pass him instead of slowing down avoid the drunk driver. The police seemed to believe that the accident was entirely the drunk driver's fault. My friend's auto insurance doesnt have collision. Should I sue my friend for unsafe driving?

Attorney answers (8)

  1. James Michael Bergener


    Contributor Level 11


    Lawyers agree

    Answered . There are a lot of questions that would need to be answered to help you figure out what steps to take next. What are you trying to sue for? Do you have any physical injuries? Did the at-fault drunk driver that hit your friend's car have insurance? If so, the first order of action would be to exhaust the insurance resources of the negligent driver. The negligent party's policy will specify how much is available in total and to each person individually. It's also possible that you can collect from the driver if he has Uninsured Motorist coverage. It's difficult to say whether with the facts you presented here whether it would be worth your while to take your friend to small claims court. Listen, I would immediately contact a New York personal injury attorney and consult with them about your case. There are a lot of great ones advertising here on Avvo or you can search on your own.

    The information provided here is for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as legal advice on... more
  2. Ryan M. Finn


    Contributor Level 13


    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Assuming you have injuries then it sounds like you could prove liability. You would want to sue the other driver as well. Best of luck.

    Ryan Finn
    Serving clients throughout New York State

    PLEASE READ THIS DISCLAIMER * I very much like to offer my advice and guidance to those in need. It is why... more
  3. Anthony A. Ferrante


    Contributor Level 15


    Lawyers agree

    Answered . It seems as though you have 2 questions to answer, but only one can be answered in this forum.

    As to the legal possibilities presented by this scenario, it sounds as though you do certainly have a potential claim. As a passenger you are free from fault in this scenario, so whether it was your friend who is determined to be at fault, the drunk driver, or some combination of the two you will be able to recover 100% of the value of your loss. The question is whether you have any injuries which would make a claim worth pursuing.

    Here in NY you need to prove that you have sustained a "serious injury" before you can recover any money in a motor vehicle accident. This is due to our no-fault coverage system, which will cover all of your medical bills, time out of work and out of pocket expenses incurred as a result of the accident. You haven't mentioned much about what happened to you so we can't really opine as to that issue, but the truth is it is most likely impossible to tell whether your injuries are "serious" at this early stage unless you have a broken bone.

    The second question is whether you feel comfortable suing your friend - and that is simply one we can't help you with. I guess that depends on your relationship with this person and how strongly you feel about what has happened to you as a result of this accident. To a certain extent, if you are really hurt you don't necessarily have a choice. Many people would be understanding, but there is obviously no guarantee as to that. It is not as if you are looking to take $$ out of your friend's pocket as any settlement will be covered by insurance, but being sued can be upsetting.

    For what it is worth, given that you were a passenger, your vehicle flipped over 4 times and you were immediately taken to the hospital, you have the makings of a good claim. I suggest you contact a local attorney as soon as possible. You can find one right here on Avvo.

    Good luck!

    The aforementioned opinion does not constitute legal advice and is for general educational purposes only. See an... more
  4. Matthew C Simon


    Contributor Level 18


    Lawyers agree

    Answered . You should sue both the drunk driver and your friend. Both insurance companies can fight out who pays you, but you are entitled to compensation. Contact an experienced personal injury attorney ASAP. I offer free 30 minute consultations in long island. Good luck

    The above is general information only and is not legal advice. The information provided does not form an attorney-... more
  5. Yefim Rubinov

    Contributor Level 17


    Lawyers agree

    Answered . You may sue your friend and the person who hit you. Hire a lawyer without delay. What are your injuries?

  6. Christian K. Lassen II

    Contributor Level 20


    Lawyers agree

    Answered . A personal injury lawyer will pursue both parties.

  7. Elan Wurtzel

    Contributor Level 10


    Lawyers agree

    Answered . From your description, it's obvious that both your friend and the other driver were negligent, which lead to the accident. As a passenger in a car, you have the expectation that your driver will drive reasonably and carefully. If you were seriously injured, it's not unreasonable for you to hold your friend (as well as the other driver) accountable for their actions. We've represented many clients over the years who have sued friends and/or family. Each situation is different--some people are upset about being sued, but many people recognize that they were at fault and the injured person, like yourself, is entitled to compensation for your pain & suffering, lost time from work, medical expenses, etc... Most people also recognize that insurance will cover most claims. If you seek compensation for legitimate serious injuries, you should have any hesitation about making a claim and should immediately consult with your own attorney. Call us!

  8. Veleka Eskinde

    Contributor Level 11


    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Absolutely. You can sue your friend and the other driver!

    Definitely consult an attorney.
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Related Topics


The definition, charges, and penalties for driving under the influence (DUI) vary by state and depend on a number of factors.

DUI and civil lawsuits

Drivers who injure or kill someone while under the influence can face more than criminal penalties--they may also be sued by their victims.

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