According to the FLHSMV, Florida had 4,554 alcohol-related traffic crashes in 2020.
Drugs and alcohol can have serious effects on a person’s ability to drive. When you drive, you need to be alert, think quickly, and exercise good judgment. Alcohol impairs all of these abilities, creating a serious hazard for everyone on the road.
Due to the dangers of alcohol, every driver has to do their part to keep the roads safe. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. People continue to get behind the wheel intoxicated, even though they know the dangers.
If you were injured by a drunk driver, you may be entitled to compensation. We hope this article will be helpful to injuries of drunk driving accidents and encourage them to seek legal counsel.
Florida’s Drunk Driving Laws
Drunk driving is illegal in all fifty states, but penalties may vary depending on where and how many offenses the drunk driver previously committed. In Florida, the legal limit for blood alcohol content (BAC) is .08%. Additionally, the drinking age is 21, so no one under 21 should have any alcohol in their systems.
Florida also has an “open container” law, prohibiting the possession of an open alcoholic beverage while driving. An open container usually means someone in the car is drinking, and it’s often the driver.
So, if a driver gets caught driving with a BAC above .08%, they could face penalties. Penalties for a DUI (Driving under the influence) charge in Florida include:
- Revoked license for at least 180 days
- Refusing to take a sobriety test leads to automatic suspension of license for one year
- Fines that ranging from $500 to $5,000
- Mandatory driver education courses
- Insomecases, ignition interlock devices (for repeat offenders)
- Community service
- DUIs remain on your record for 75 years
Signs That a Driver Is Drunk or Impaired
A drunk or drugged driver might exhibit abnormal behaviors that are not safe for driving. Some signs that a person is intoxicated include:
- Slowed responses or delayed reaction times
- Limitations on short-term memory functioning
- Poor or sloppy hand-eye coordination
- Inability to focus, short attention span
- Weakened depth perception and blurry vision
What Are Some Consequences of Drunk Driving?
A drunk driver can cause harm to themselves and others on the road. They could potentially harm other drivers, pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists, scooter riders, and animals. They could even face legal repercussions like a DUI, fines, and license suspension.
Florida law holds all drivers accountable for their actions. So if a person decides to drive drunk and hurts or kills someone, that’s negligence. Driving on drugs can have similar consequences as driving drunk and has the same ripple effect. Sadly, their poor choices cause harm to another person and inflicts damages and losses on the victim and their families.
But, there is hope for injured victims of drunk driving accidents in Florida. The injured victims or surviving family might be able to pursue the drunk driver for damage compensation.
You May Have Sustained These Injuries From a Drunk Driving Accident in Florida
Drunk driving accident victims seldom walk away with something as minor as a scratch on the elbow or a bruise on the knee. In fact, many drunk driving accidents end in fatalities.
Drunk driving accidents are disturbingly frequent in Florida. A few months earlier in December 2022, a drunk man driving a pick-up truck hit and killed a woman in another car. The woman was ejected from her vehicle after getting struck by the pickup on the passenger’s side. She was pronounced dead shortly after.
Death is the worst case scenario that can result from a drunk driving accident. But any injury can disrupt a person’s life and bring financial, physical, and emotional burdens. Here are common injuries people get in accidents with drunk drivers:
- Concussions ( a head injury that causes the person to lose consciousness)
- Other head injuries, including traumatic brain injuries (TBIs can be have life-long consequences if left untreated)
- Severe burns
- Spinal cord injury (can cause paralysis and other permanent damage)
- Limb amputation from crushing or catastrophic damage to a limb
- Bone fractures or broken bones (common from seat belt trauma to the collarbone or ribs)
- Internal organ damage (ruptured spleen, kidney, or liver)
- Internal bleeding
- Whiplash and other neck injuries
- Soft tissue damage
- Scarring or disfigurement
- Facial scarring
If the Insurance Company Doesn’t Cooperate, You May Need to File a Personal Injury Lawsuit
The other driver was drunk, so they are obviously responsible for causing the crash. Seems pretty open-and-shut, right? It feels like a no-brainer that the drunk driver’s insurance should cover any damages that exceed your PIP limit. While it seems like an obvious matter, drunk driving accidents are not always easy to interpret.
On top of that, insurance companies might try to offer you a lowball settlement offer before you have time to understand the extent of your injuries. They may try to pressure you into taking an offer that doesn’t really justify your damages.
To win a case against a drunk driver, you need to establish their negligence clearly. That means finding hard evidence to prove they were drunk and that’s what caused the accident. If for whatever reason that proves difficult or the insurance company decides to make unfair moves, you’ll need help from a legal professional. Sometimes, a civil lawsuit against the drunk driver is the only option to get a fair amount to cover all your damages.
The Other Driver Was Drunk, but I’m Still Partially at Fault for the Accident. Now What?
Even if the other driver was drunk, you may be partially at fault for causing it. If you did something to contribute to the accident, you can seek compensation. The only caveat is that your award amount will get reduced.
For example, if the other driver was drunk but you were also speeding, you may both be partly responsible for the crash. While they were drunk and could have prevented the accident by not driving drunk, you were still speeding. Perhaps your speeding made the crash outcome more severe than if you hadn’t been speeding. Then, let’s say your financial compensation amount is $80,000 but you were 20% responsible for the accident, you would only get $64,000.
Wrongful Death Claims for a Loved One Who Was Killed by a Drunk Driver
A large percentage of drunk driving accidents end in fatalities. There were 814 people who died in Florida because of drunk drivers in 2019.
If your loved one died in a crash caused by a drunk driver, you can file a wrongful death claim. Wrongful death claims help surviving family members claim financial reimbursement for the loss of their loved one. The money is meant to help instill financial stability for the surviving family members, especially if the deceased person was the bread-winner for the family.
Winning a wrongful death or personal injury claim requires the skill of an experienced attorney who had handled these types of cases before.
Follow These Steps After Getting Into an Accident With a Florida Drunk Driver
The first thing to do after an accident is check for injuries. Make sure you call for medical assistance if anyone is injured. If you have doubts about the severity of an injury, it’s better to err on the side of caution and call for medical attention.
Once you ensure everyone is safe and out of the way of traffic, call the police. They will come and make an official accident report. Part of law enforcement’s job is to analyze and determine if the other driver has been drinking. If they suspect the other driver is intoxicated, they might conduct a field sobriety test or give a breathalyzer test.
If you have any inkling that the other driver was drinking, call a lawyer. They’ll help you sort out all of your damages and what to do next. You might now be stuck with damages to your car, missed work, pain, suffering, and physical injuries because of a drunk driver. If so, you’ll want a lawyer to help you get the most compensation possible.
Driving drunk is illegal and considered negligence. That’s a valid basis for seeking damage compensation from the other driver. The police can decide whether or not to press criminal charges against the driver for other penalties.
I Was Injured by a Drunk Driver in Florida. What Kind of Damage Compensation Can I Get?
With help from a Florida car accident lawyer, you might be able to secure damage compensation for the following:
- Medical bills
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering
- Lost wages
- And more
Is It Necessary to File A Florida Personal Injury Claim After an Accident With a Drunk Driver?
Before you decide to file a personal injury claim, we advise discussing your case with a skilled legal professional. You’ll need to be prepared with ample evidence to prove the driver was drunk and their negligence harmed you.
That said, most car accident claims are settled out of court. It’s usually quicker and more cost-effective to settle outside of court. However, an experienced attorney knows what your case is worth and if the insurance company is offering a fair settlement. If not, it might be time to prepare for court.
Contact a Florida Personal Injury Lawyer For Legal Help
If you’re suffering from severe injuries caused by a drunk driver, you can get compensation for your damages. Or, if your loved one’s life was taken by a drunk driver, you can file a wrongful death claim.
Contact an experienced drunk driving accident lawyer to review your case and give you sound legal guidance. Rather than letting the medical bills overwhelm you and sink into a hole of financial worry, accident trauma, and physical limitations, be proactive in protecting your rights.
Drunk driving is a serious offense and you should hold them accountable for their actions that have caused you harm. That’s why we will fight to get you the compensation you need and deserve
Contact us today for a free initial consultation.