People who drive while impaired by alcohol or drugs place everyone on the road in danger. Drunk driving causes tens of thousands of accidents each year, many of which result in serious injuries or fatalities to other motorists and their passengers.
If you suffered injuries or lost a loved one in a drunk-driving car accident, you likely want to hold the responsible party accountable and get the compensation you need. For help, reach out to an experienced drunk-driving car accident lawyer for an objective review of your case and advice regarding your options.
Virtually all states, including Florida and Washington, passed these DUI laws:
Also, Washington, Florida, and many other states have zero-tolerance rules for minors and those under 21 who drive under the influence of alcohol. Any detectable amount of alcohol in a minor’s system can result in a DUI charge.
All states have implied consent laws regarding DUI. This means drivers have inherently given consent to submit to a chemical test (breath, blood, or urine) if arrested for suspicion of DUI. Refusal to take a test can result in administrative penalties, such as driver’s license suspension.
Conviction of DUI can result in license suspension or revocation, jail time, and vehicle impoundment. In many cases, drivers convicted of DUI must install ignition interlock devices on their automobiles.
Your attorney can file a car accident claim with the drunk driver’s insurance company to seek compensation for your injuries and other losses. This typically involves providing evidence of the drunk driver’s negligence and demonstrating your injuries and damages. Your lawyer will need to gather police reports, witness statements, medical records, and documentation of your expenses.
The insurance company may respond with a low settlement offer that does not cover all your expenses or they may only agree to cover some of your injuries. Your attorney can negotiate with the insurer to convince them to honor the policy and pay you the full amount you deserve.
Civil Lawsuit Against the Drunk Driver
If the insurance company does not offer a fair settlement or denies your claim, you can file a civil lawsuit against the drunk driver. In a lawsuit, you would need to prove that the drunk driver’s negligence or intentional misconduct caused the accident and resulted in your injuries. Your attorney can guide you through the legal process and build a strong case.
You have a limited time to file a lawsuit against the driver in civil court. For instance, Florida allows you two years, and Washington allows you three. The statute of limitations may vary for wrongful death, so you have no time to lose in contacting an attorney and starting the process.
In drunk driving accidents, the driver may face criminal charges for driving under the influence (DUI) or related offenses. You can participate in the criminal proceedings as a victim, providing information and testimony to support the prosecution’s case. The outcome of the criminal case can also influence your civil case or insurance claim.
However, the driver does not have to face criminal charges and the state does not have to convict them of a crime for you to pursue compensation. You may file a civil claim regardless of whether the driver faces any criminal consequences, and your attorney needs only show the driver caused your injuries through a preponderance of evidence rather than proving they drove drunk beyond a reasonable doubt.
In some cases, you may have a claim against a third party, such as a bar, restaurant, or social host that served alcohol to the drunk driver. Dram shop laws vary by jurisdiction, and they have specific requirements. In many cases, plaintiffs cannot hold an establishment or host liable for serving alcohol to someone who later causes a DUI accident unless the individual was a minor or was known to have an alcohol problem.
Consult an attorney in your state to determine whether you can pursue compensation against a bar, restaurant, adult host, or some other party that served the driver alcohol before the crash.
Whether through an insurance claim or lawsuit, you can pursue compensation to cover your injuries and losses resulting from a drunk driving car accident.
Some common types of damages include:
Additionally, courts will sometimes award punitive damages when the defendant’s egregious negligence, intentional misconduct, or unlawfulness caused the victim’s injuries or losses. Since your claim involves a drunk driver, you should discuss with your attorney whether taking your case to court makes sense and follow their recommendations and advice on the likelihood you could obtain punitive damages.
The types and amounts of compensation you could receive will depend on the severity of your injuries and other unique factors in your drunk driving car accident case. An attorney can determine the compensation you can pursue and calculate the amounts you deserve. They can also advocate for you and fight each step of the way to increase your chances of getting the maximum amount possible.
Pursuing compensation following a drunk driving car accident requires the skills and resources of an experienced attorney. A personal injury attorney in Tempa will understand your state’s criminal DUI laws and personal injury laws and can help you make the most informed decisions. An attorney will also have your best interests at heart, protect your rights, and work diligently to get everything you deserve.
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