30.8 C
New York
Thursday, June 20, 2024

Florida Drunk Driving Accident Lawyers for DUI Injury Victims

In the vibrant state of Florida, where the sun-soaked roads wind through picturesque landscapes, the unfortunate reality of drunk driving accidents casts a shadow over the beauty. For those who have fallen victim to the devastating consequences of DUI-related injuries, the journey to justice can be overwhelming. In the aftermath of such incidents, it becomes crucial to have a reliable legal ally by your side to navigate the complexities of the legal system.

In this blog post, we delve into the vital role of Florida Drunk Driving Accident Lawyers and how they champion the cause of DUI injury victims. From understanding the legal nuances surrounding DUI cases to seeking compensation for the physical, emotional, and financial toll these accidents inflict, our exploration aims to shed light on the invaluable support these legal professionals provide.

Join us as we uncover the intricacies of DUI injury cases, the legal recourse available to victims, and how skilled attorneys in Florida specialize in fighting for justice on behalf of those who have suffered due to the reckless actions of intoxicated drivers. Discover the path to reclaiming control and rebuilding lives with the assistance of seasoned Florida Drunk Driving Accident Lawyers.

What Is a DUI?

A DUI, which stands for “Driving Under the Influence,” typically pertains to the act of operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. An individual is issued a DUI citation if their Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) measures at .08 or above, indicating a significant escalation in the likelihood of a crash. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that at these BAC levels, alcohol can adversely impact various faculties, such as:

  1. Muscle coordination and speed regulation
  2. Information processing and concentration
  3. Memory and perception
  4. Self-control and judgment

Operating a vehicle with a BAC of .08 or higher is considered illegal in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico (with an exception in Utah, where the BAC limit is .05). BAC is typically measured using a breathalyzer, which gauges the alcohol content in a driver’s breath, or through a blood test. It’s crucial to note that even a minimal amount of alcohol can impair driving abilities. In 2018, there were 1,878 fatalities in alcohol-related crashes where drivers had lower alcohol levels (BACs of .01 to .07).

Importantly, DUI charges are not confined to conventional vehicles; individuals operating golf carts, motorcycles, mopeds, scooters, or even riding lawnmowers under the influence can face DUI convictions. Additionally, a related offense, drug DUI, encompasses those impaired by narcotics, including over-the-counter drugs.

When addressing DUI accidents involving alcohol as a contributing factor, there are often additional complexities. If you or a loved one has suffered from a drunk driving accident, don’t hesitate to contact one of our drunk driving accident lawyers for direct assistance.

DUI vs. DWI

DUI, or “Driving Under the Influence,” and DWI, short for “Driving While Intoxicated,” both represent serious offenses indicating that a driver was operating a vehicle or other motorized transportation while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The specific abbreviation used can vary by state; for instance, Florida employs the DUI designation.

In some states, DWI takes on a different meaning, representing “Driving While Impaired.” In these cases, “impaired” may encompass alcohol, drugs, sleepiness, or other factors that could compromise driving ability. Regardless of the abbreviation, the paramount consideration is avoiding any of these designations on your driving record.

Certain states utilize alternative abbreviations such as:

  • OUI: Operating Under the Influence
  • OWI: Operating While Intoxicated
  • DWAI: Driving While Ability Impaired

Understanding the specific terminology used in your state is essential for legal clarity and compliance.

How Fault Is Determined in DUI Accidents

While a drunk driver is often deemed fully responsible for a crash, certain DUI accidents can be more intricate, involving shared culpability between the involved parties. Determining who bears the financial responsibility for damages, including injuries and medical expenses, is crucial.

Given that driving under the influence is illegal nationwide, individuals who choose to drive after consuming excessive alcohol are considered negligent even before an accident occurs. However, being negligent does not always equate to automatic fault. In specific scenarios, the drunk driver, despite being negligent, may not be entirely at fault. For instance, if a sober driver runs a red light and collides with a drunk driver who has the right of way, the sober driver may not necessarily prevail in court, despite the illegality of the drunk driver’s actions.

Also Read

Drunk Driving Accident Lawyers in Seattle Washington

Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer in Los Angels

Courts and juries assess the overall circumstances when assigning fault, potentially attributing a percentage of blame to each party involved. In cases like the example mentioned, they might assign partial blame to both drivers. While the drunk driver may still be considered mostly at fault, the sober driver’s actions could impact the damages the DUI victim can recover. However, it’s essential to note that such situations are typically the exception rather than the norm.

Your Legal Options After Being Hit By a Drunk Driver

Drunk drivers may encounter severe criminal charges, leading to penalties such as restitution and imprisonment, but they can also be held civilly liable for their actions. This civil liability can become particularly complex in no-fault states like Florida. In these states, the general rule is that each party’s insurance covers their own medical expenses and damages, regardless of fault.

Insurance Claims and No-Fault Laws

After a DUI accident in most states, the common practice is to seek compensation from the impaired driver’s insurance company by filing a claim in the hopes of securing a settlement. It’s advisable to engage a DUI lawyer to navigate the process, negotiate the best settlement, and potentially go to trial if the offered settlement is unsatisfactory.

However, in some states, such as Florida, a no-fault rule is in place. Under this rule, drivers are required to carry their own Personal Injury Protection (PIP), typically valued at $10,000. Unlike in states solely governed by negligence laws, where drunk drivers are automatically liable, no-fault laws stipulate that a financial threshold must be met before a lawsuit can proceed. In the aftermath of an accident, regardless of fault, a DUI accident victim in a no-fault state must initially rely on their PIP coverage to address medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses.

If the PIP coverage proves insufficient and the injuries meet the state’s definition of “serious injuries,” victims may then pursue a liability claim or personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver. In Florida, for instance, “serious injuries” are those causing a substantial risk of death, personal disfigurement, permanent impairment, or extended yet temporary impairment (lasting 90 days or more). In certain cases, individuals may also have the option to step outside the no-fault system, especially if medical bills surpass a certain threshold.

Civil vs. Criminal DUI Cases

Indeed, most DUI cases are processed through criminal courts, even if there are no direct victims, with the primary aim of punishing the driver and serving as a deterrent to others. In instances where there is an accident, injury, or death involved, the criminal court may order restitution to be paid to DUI victims. However, the severity of drunk driving accidents, often resulting from impaired drivers unable to react quickly enough to prevent a collision, can lead to damages and medical expenses that exceed the restitution awarded.

In situations where Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage has been exhausted and restitution is insufficient, DUI accident victims retain the option to pursue a civil lawsuit against the driver in civil court. Criminal and civil cases are treated as distinct legal processes, and the primary objective of a personal injury lawsuit is to secure compensation for the accident victim, covering damages and medical expenses beyond what may be available through criminal restitution. The civil court process allows victims to seek additional compensation to address the full extent of their losses resulting from the DUI accident.

Wrongful Death and Drunk Driving

If a loved one is tragically killed by a drunk driver, their family or next of kin has the legal right to file a civil suit for wrongful death on behalf of the deceased’s estate. The purpose of such a lawsuit is to ensure that surviving family members maintain financial stability in the aftermath of the loss. Wrongful death claims typically seek both economic and non-economic damages.

Economic damages may include quantifiable financial losses such as medical expenses, funeral costs, and loss of financial support. Non-economic damages, on the other hand, are less tangible and may encompass factors like emotional pain and suffering, loss of companionship, and the impact on the family’s overall quality of life.

In some states, punitive damages may also be available in wrongful death cases resulting from a DUI accident. These damages are intended to further punish the drunk driver and serve as a deterrent to prevent similar behavior in the future, both for the specific individual and the public at large. It’s important to note that a fatality resulting from a DUI accident is legally treated as a wrongful death case rather than a DUI case, and seeking legal counsel can help navigate the complexities of such claims.

Your Next Steps for a DUI Accident

Following a DUI accident, assuming you are out of harm’s way, there are a number of steps you should take for your personal and financial well-being.

1. Seek Medical Help

Regardless of the seeming insignificance of your injuries at first, it is crucial to recognize their importance. A thorough examination may reveal hidden injuries, such as organ damage or internal bleeding, that may not be immediately apparent. Additionally, it is essential to diligently maintain records of all bills and documents, as they serve as crucial evidence when pursuing accountability from the responsible party.

2. File a Police Report

In compliance with Florida law, obtaining a police report is mandatory if the damage to either vehicle exceeds $500, injuries occurred, or vehicle towing was necessary. Ensure that the attending police officer acknowledges your injuries and records other relevant details at the scene, as this report will play a crucial role in the event you decide to pursue a personal injury claim.

3. Document the Scene

Make an effort to collect witness information and capture photos or videos of the scene, vehicles involved, and license plates. Memories tend to fade over time, but having this evidence can be invaluable if you decide to initiate a lawsuit. Check for any potential street surveillance footage, and make a note of its existence so that it can be obtained for additional supporting evidence.

4. Keep a Log

In the event of an injury in a DUI accident, maintain a written record detailing your pain and suffering. Consider attending hearings related to the drunk driver’s charges to gain insight into the legal proceedings. You may also be called upon to testify or provide a victim impact statement, so staying informed about the case is crucial. This information can significantly contribute to your case and any potential legal actions you may pursue.

5. Avoid Social Media

While it might be tempting to express frustration on social media about the negligence of the drunk driver, it’s important to exercise caution. Insurance adjusters and attorneys often scour social media platforms, searching for any inconsistencies or activities that may contradict your injury claims. Be mindful of what you share online to avoid potential complications in your case. It’s advisable to refrain from making statements or engaging in activities that could be used against you in the legal proceedings related to your injury claims.

6. Hire an Experienced Attorney

DUI injury accidents, particularly in no-fault states like Florida, can be intricate. Seeking the assistance of an experienced personal injury attorney is crucial for building a strong case. When hiring a lawyer for such cases, consider the following:

  1. Specialization in Personal Injury Law: Ensure that the attorney specializes in personal injury law rather than practicing in a general capacity. This specialization indicates a focused expertise in handling cases similar to yours.
  2. Previous Experience with DUI Injury Cases: Look for a lawyer who has a track record of successfully handling DUI injury cases. Experience in this specific area equips the attorney with the knowledge and strategies needed to navigate the complexities associated with DUI-related accidents.
  3. Trial Preparedness: Confirm that the attorney is prepared for civil trial proceedings. While many cases are settled out of court, a lawyer ready for a civil trial demonstrates a commitment to pursuing your case to the fullest extent if necessary. This readiness can also strengthen your negotiating position during settlement discussions.

By considering these three factors, you increase the likelihood of securing legal representation that is well-suited to handle the complexities of a DUI injury case in a no-fault state.

FAQs

What are your fees?

Many DUI accident lawyers operate on a contingency fee basis, taking a percentage (usually 25-40%) of your monetary recovery. Some may also charge case-related costs, so it’s essential to clarify upfront whether you’ll be responsible for these expenses.

Have you handled DUI accident cases like mine before?

Feel free to inquire about a lawyer’s past experiences and results. Ask about their settlement and trial frequency, as well as their success rate. It’s important to gather this information when considering legal representation.

How long does it typically take to resolve a DUI accident case like mine?

DUI cases can vary in complexity due to various factors. Nevertheless, your attorney should provide you with a general timeline for your case.

Will my case go to trial?

While a DUI settlement can be successful, it’s crucial to hire an attorney prepared to go to trial if needed.

How much can I recover?

A seasoned personal injury lawyer can provide a rough estimate of potential recovery in a civil suit based on factors like discovery, liability, and injury severity. Exercise caution if presented with an unusually high DUI lawsuit payout figure, as it may indicate an attempt to attract your business.

Who will handle my case?

Ensure you have the best attorneys working for you by clarifying your representation. If you initially meet with a senior partner, confirm whether you’ll be working with them consistently or if you might be passed on to a less experienced associate. Know who will be your representative from start to finish and identify their superior for additional support if needed.

What do I need to do in a lawsuit?

Individual preferences vary, with some preferring active involvement in their case and others opting for a hands-off approach, relying on their attorney. It’s crucial to comprehend your lawyer’s expectations regarding your involvement to ensure compatibility.

Latest Posts

Don't Miss

Stay in touch

To be updated with all the latest news, offers and special announcements.