While accidents happen, many traffic accidents are avoidable — especially accidents involving intoxicated drivers. When someone chooses to drink and drive, they do so fully aware of the possible consequences of their actions.
For those who do make the unfortunate decision to get behind the wheel while under the influence, Florida has harsh penalties in place. This regrettably doesn’t stop thousands of drunk driving accidents from occurring year after year, many of which result in serious injuries and even fatalities.
If you have been seriously hurt in an accident caused by a drunk driver, you may have the right to compensation for your medical bills, pain and suffering, and other damages.
Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol in Florida is a serious offense. According to Florida law, anyone with a blood alcohol level of 0.08 or higher is guilty of driving under the influence, and that’s whether or not the car is even moving. Furthermore, if a driver is deemed to be impaired of their “normal faculties” and unable to drive safely, despite their blood alcohol level being below 0.08, they can still be cited for a DUI.
When a driver receives their first DUI conviction, a fine anywhere between $500 and $2,000 will be issued, and it’s possible to face as much as 6 months jail time. If there were a minor in the car during the incident, the 6 months of jail time increases to 9 months. The same is true if the defendant had a blood alcohol content of 0.15 or more. Serving 50 hours of community service is also required, along with as much as one year of probation. In addition, the driver can have their license revoked for up to a year, and the driver’s record will show the DUI for life.
When someone drives under the influence and causes an accident, they can be held civilly liable and sued for damages by accident victims.
There are 3 potential avenues to go down when seeking compensation for drunk driver-related injuries. You can make a claim against your own PIP insurance, you can make a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance, or you can potentially make a dram shop claim, depending on the circumstances of the accident.
To make a PIP benefit claim, it’s important that you have received treatment within no more than 14 days following the accident. The following expenses are covered by PIP insurance:
When an accident is caused by another driver, you have the right to make an injury claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance policy. Hopefully, the driver has maintained enough liability coverage to fully compensate you for your medical bills and other damages. Unfortunately, too many drivers carry just minimum liability coverage which is rarely enough for even a fairly minor accident.
While it will be the driver that caused the accident who is responsible for contacting their car insurance company to report the accident, it’s often wise to make sure you contact them too, so be sure that you get all of their details and give them a call once you’ve contacted your own insurance company.
In the overwhelming majority of all intoxicated driver accident claims it’ll be the drunk driver who’s held fully responsible for all damages and injuries resulting from their negligence. Under Florida’s Dram Shop Law, though, you may have a third-party claim. This law points out two cases where a party besides the negligent driver may also be held partly liable.
If the business that provided the alcohol did so to a driver who was underage, even if they weren’t aware, they can be held responsible for any injuries. Also, if the business knew the patron had a history of alcohol abuse and served them alcohol anyway, they may be held partially liable for any damages.
If you have been seriously injured by a drunk driver in Florida, it’s important to seek experienced legal counsel before speaking with an insurance company to protect your rights. At GMV Law Group, LLP, we will aggressively seek fair compensation for your injuries to make you as financially whole as possible. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation with a DUI injury attorney to discuss your case; we have English and Spanish speaking representatives ready to help you.