Fact: Almost 30% of all fatal car accidents in Florida are the result of drunk driving.
Given that high percentage, it’s safe to say there are a lot of questions about what to do in the event of an accident involving a drunk driver. This is especially true if you’re a victim of this type of car crash.
Recovery from a drunk driving car accident can be multi-layered. You may have experienced severe injuries, post-traumatic syndrome symptoms, and vehicular damages. Drunk driving car accident claims are handled differently than standard car accidents, and you’ll want to know all the facts before you jump to conclusions and take legal action.
If you’re wondering what rights you have and what kind of legal recourse might be available to you, we are going to discuss many of those main topics here.
These will be general questions that will give you the main ideas behind these types of car crashes and their legal implications. We suggest consulting with our team before speaking with insurance companies or trying to navigate a drunk driving injury accident on your own.
Can I sue a drunk driver in Florida?
The short answer is yes. However, before you can proceed with your case, it’s important that you have a few key elements down. First, it’s incredibly important to work with a car accident or motorcycle accident lawyer, depending on your situation. In addition, you must have information regarding the following:
If intoxication was truly responsible for the accident – This information will likely be found in a car accident report put together by local law enforcement. A driver cannot have a Blood Alcohol level above 0.8%, or they can be criminally charged aside from your own claim against them.
The alcohol levels will be essential to note in the case and will directly impact the damages sought. Also important, will be to see if the driver has been convicted of this sort of drunk driving behavior before. There are more severe penalties for those who have second or third offenses which could impact your claim or lawsuit.
Proving the accident was not your fault – This point may seem counter-intuitive since you weren’t the person driving under the influence of alcohol. It might not even seem fair considering the situation. However, you’ll want to be able to offer some type of evidence that will clear you of wrong-doing.
An attorney will be able to assist with this and will have the resources to position your case free from fault. Even if you were partially at fault, your attorney could help protect you from the insurance adjuster who attempts to exploit that beyond reason.
A quality car accident lawyer is connected to experts who can recreate car crashes, chemical experts for crashes involving fire, and scientific analysts who can testify as to why you were not the party at fault.
Proving negligence by the other driver – Through various forms of evidence, proving negligence will be crucial to your case. Your accident attorney will be able to help you with this evidence and can include the accident report, photos of the scene and damages, red-light or similar footage, witness reports, and accident recreation testimony.
You and your attorney will be tasked with providing evidence that proves the drunk driver caused the collision resulting in your damages. The driver being drunk isn’t proof enough, unfortunately. Insurance companies will deny claims that simply state the driver was drunk and therefore negligent.
An experienced accident lawyer will have the skill set and resources to place responsibility on the driver for not only being drunk but cause the crash. It would be detrimental to your case to assume the insurer will side with you, sadly, they are more interested in paying less in claims than they are about your wellbeing. These companies fight DUI crash claims just as aggressively as they fight other car crash injury claims.
If no-fault laws affect your case – While Florida is a no-fault state when it comes to car insurance and accidents, with DUIs, there are other considerations taken into account. A car accident attorney will be able to walk you through your particular situation.
Typically, no-fault accident claims require that you approach your insurer to pay for your medical expenses and damages. DUI crashes can be different depending on the details and severity of the collision. Not only can you file claims with your own insurer, but you may have a strong case to file a claim with the driver’s insurance company.
The severity of your injuries – Another crucial component to your DUI accident case will be sharing the extent of your injuries. This may include medical records, x-rays, and other similar documents.
You may not be able to access the above information on your own, which means consulting an experienced auto accident lawyer is that much more important. Until you can prove negligence on the other driver’s part, as well as injury and personal suffering on yours, you may not have a strong enough case to bring to court.
Can I sue a bar or restaurant for serving the other driver too much alcohol?
Dram shop laws enforce the legal responsibilities of an institution that served alcohol to an individual who caused an accident.
Unfortunately, Florida dram shop law is quite limited. If the establishment served alcohol to a minor or a known “habitually addicted” person, only then can the establishment (potentially) be held liable. This means in the state of Florida, people, or establishments that serve alcohol are not always held accountable for their patrons’ actions.
What benefits can I qualify for after being injured in a drunk driving car accident?
There are several requirements your case must meet before you can qualify for benefits. For example, in Florida, you must have reported the crime within 72 hours of its occurrence. Considering that almost 88,000 people were injured in motorcycle accidents in 2015, these claims are not uncommon. But if you do meet the criteria, the benefits you may qualify for include:
- Wage Loss – This compensation will include wages lost today and those you might not be able to earn in the future as a result of your accident. Be sure to alert your attorney how this accident has impacted your ability to work or any changes in employment.
- Disability – If you become permanently injured as a result of your DUI car crash injuries, you may be eligible to receive ongoing disability benefits. This includes other tragic situations regarding disfigurements and death.
- Treatment Expenses – Recovery from this sort of car incident may require a significant amount of medical attention. This kind of recovery can be anything from surgical intervention, long-term therapy, medication management, etc.
- Mental Health Counseling – Trauma after a car accident impacts more than just your physical wellbeing. It can also be hard to recover from mentally, requiring therapy and other forms of mental health intervention.
- Property Loss/Damage Reimbursement – Your vehicle may be a total loss and need a full replacement, or there may be costly damages to tend to. You may receive compensation as a result of your losses.
Do Drunk Driving Accidents Equal Larger Settlements?
There is no “guarantee” of what kind of settlement you’ll receive in a drunk driving incident. The determination of that will be unique to each case; however, some factors may result in higher settlements. These factors are what the state of Florida refer to as the legal doctrines of punitive or exemplary damages. These damages are sought in cases where the negligent party was particularly irresponsible or reckless, leading to your injuries.
These type of damages aim to “punish” and deter the person from making the same kinds of mistakes or trespasses in the future. Your legal claim may only be a part of the drunk driver’s problems. Chances are, the person will also be facing criminal charges regarding their drunk driving.
Your involvement in a drunk driving car accident can affect you for the rest of your life, and you should be able to seek compensation for the damage that’s been done.
Before trying to navigate the drunk driving car accident space alone, please contact our office to learn more about your legal rights. Call or contact Herron Law today and schedule your consultation. We look forward to learning more about your case and working with you.