Drunk driving statistics in Florida
Car accidents involving a driver who is under the influence of drugs or alcohol can have a devastating impact on the victims of these crashes.
People hurt by drunk drivers suffer some of the most serious injuries of any accidents.
According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration: “Every day, almost 30 people in the United States die in drunk-driving crashes. That’s one person every 48 minutes in 2017. These deaths have fallen by a third in the last three decades, however, drunk-driving crashes claim more than 10,000 lives per year. ”
Seeing your loved seriously injured or killed in an accident is terrible enough. It’s even worse when it was an accident that was entirely preventable, because it was caused by a drunk driver.
The good news is that the rate of DUI accidents with injuries have decreased steadily over the past decade. The bad news is that there are still almost 33,000 alcohol-related driving arrests every year in Florida alone, and many of the people arrested are repeat DUI offenders.
Here are some facts about DUI accidents in Florida that may surprise you:
- Last year, Florida experienced 166,210 crashes that caused injuries, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.
- 76 percent of drinking-related fatalities involved drivers with a high blood alcohol content (BAC) of .15 or more.
- 18 percent of all DUI-related accidents also involve other drugs such as marijuana or cocaine.
What are your legal options after you’ve been injured in a DUI incident in Florida?
Being involved in a car accident can be a harrowing, life-changing event for those who are seriously injured. This happens far too often on U.S. highways, especially in Florida which has a higher rate of accidents than in other states.
Serious accidents occur for a variety of reasons, but one of the most common causes of tragic accidents is driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The decision to drink and drive may seem harmless at the time, but the truth is that impaired drivers can easily and quickly cause a deadly accident when their ability to react quickly is diminished.
The victims who survived and the families of those who suffer are often left not knowing where to turn or what to do following any accident, let alone one that involves a drunk driver. The best decision for anyone in this situation is contacting a Florida personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.
Were you or a loved one hit by a drunk driver?
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Learn more about your rights by completing our free case review form today.
Florida insurance law and DUI accidents
Like many states, Florida takes drunk driving seriously and the laws reflect that. A DUI is defined as driving with a BAC of .08 or higher or driving while using a controlled substance.
A driver who’s under 21 can be charged with a DUI even if their BAC reading is only .02%. Drivers with a commercial driver’s license (CDL) can be charged if their BAC reads .04%.
Florida is a no-fault insurance state that uses pure comparative negligence when adjudicating accidents. What this means is that all vehicle owners in Florida are required to carry at least $10,000 in personal injury protection that is used before any claim can be filed in pursuit of additional damages. The minimum coverage required by state law can be exceeded quickly following any accident, but the state must authorize any subsequent legal action to collect whole damages from a negligent driver.
The severity of injuries is actually the primary basis of determining whether a case may proceed in court, even when the opposing driver is cited for driving under the influence (DUI). Material case facts indicating fault for the crash leading to the injuries can matter when a case goes to trial.
Criminal case complications
Criminal prosecutions for a DUI can be problematic for those trying to recover financial compensation from an accident involving a drunk driver. The state will typically have a cited driver in court and prosecuted long before the accident case is settled.
This means that a convicted driver will already be financially obligated to the state for fines and could very well be incarcerated for a period of time based on how intoxicated they were at the time of the crash, and it can be especially problematic when both drivers were intoxicated.
Criminal penalties for DUI can include loss of driving privileges, significant fines and service fees, and extended jail time in certain situations. This can absolutely impact an injury claim and having the right attorney handling the case makes a major difference.
Potential drunk driving damages
Injury claims that are allowed by the court can result in specific damages that can be paid to injured victims, especially in cases of clear fault by an impaired driver.
Compensatory damages are the primary initial claims and can include financial recovery for medical bills, lost wages, property damage, and general damages for pain-and-suffering incurred from the injuries.
Punitive damages may also be available in many DUI accident cases when the plaintiff’s legal counsel can prove to a jury that the drunk driver was guilty of gross negligence. In cases of fatal injury where wrongful death may apply, the family of the decedent may also have a claim for loss of consortium in certain instances.
How comparative negligence matters
Another factor that can impact your DUI injury case is comparative fault. Florida uses pure comparative negligence law that requires damages be discounted according to the fault percentage of the injured driver. While it is common for convicted DUI drivers to be found totally at fault, this is not always the case in accident claims.
Can you sue a drunk driver after an accident?
Under Florida law, you can sue someone who has caused injury or death in an auto accident.
Compensation for accident victims and their families can include:
- Medical costs
- Lost wages
- Property damages
- Emotional distress
- Wrongful death
There are some specific factors in Florida that affect the outcome and the amount of a judgment in each lawsuit.
Facts of the case: The court will have to determine that the driver was acting recklessly or negligently. In most cases that involved a DUI-related injury or fatality, that is not difficult to prove.
Florida’s no-fault law: Florida is a no-fault law state, meaning that in the case of an accident, you are required to get compensation for your medical costs and other damages from your insurance company’s personal injury protection (PIP) coverage.
There are exceptions to this rule, however. The law also says that you can sue the driver for additional compensation in cases of:
- Permanent injury
- Permanent scarring
- Loss of a significant bodily function
- Punitive or exemplary damages
Florida allows additional damages (in the form of punitive or exemplary damages) to be paid in a DUI-related injury claim. This is in addition to compensation for medical costs, lost wages and emotional distress.
Why hire an experienced DUI injury attorney
Insurance companies work diligently to defend their insured drivers in an attempt to reduce total payouts for injured claimants. The injury is often immaterial to the insurance carrier, and an aggressive personal injury attorney will understand what to expect when pursuing damages.
It is never a good decision to attempt handling a claim personally when you have been injured in an accident with a drunk driver because the claim may be much more valuable than you realize. Always call an experienced personal injury attorney who has a strong track record of results.
At Tragos, Sartes and Tragos, we can take aggressive action to ensure justice for the innocent victims of an impaired driver. Your suffering and loss deserve compensation, and we can get it for you. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.
Remember, there is no fee unless we win your case.
Contact the Tragos Law Firm today for a free case consultation.