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?
You may be eligible for financial compensation.
Learn more about your rights by completing our free case review form today.
Florida insurance law and DUI accidents
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.
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.
Contact the Tragos Law Firm today for a free case consultation.