Florida Drunk Driving Accident Injury Lawyer
Have you or a loved one been injured in a drunk driving accident? Whether it was a hit and run or the impaired driver has little or no bodily injury liability coverage, compensation can be recovered for you!
It’s important not to accept any offer made by an insurance company without an experienced lawyer there to represent your best interests. We will fight aggressively to ensure the big insurance companies give you a fair settlement to make you whole, rather than the low ball figure they will most certainly try to get away with.
Drunk Driving Claims and Punitive Damages in Tampa, Florida
Drunk driving is a major problem in Florida and causes many people between the ages of 25-34 to lose their lives, along with minor children passengers, even though the criminal penalties are intentionally harsh. If you have been injured by a drunk driver, you have the right to recover damages from the drunk driver’s family and insurance company in civil court. As a victim of a drunk driver in Florida, you will be able to recover compensatory damages, as well as punitive damages.
How many drunk driving accidents are there in the state of Florida?
Drunk driving car and motorcycle accidents is a huge problem in the state of Florida. Florida defines drunk driving as someone who is driving while their blood alcohol concentrations (BACs) are .08 grams per deciliter (g/dL) or higher by law. (Fla. Stat. 316.193). According to NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) in 2016 we had 10,497 fatalities in motor vehicle traffic crashes involving drivers with BACs of .08 g/dL or higher. This totaled 28% of all traffic fatalities for the year. An average of 1 alcohol-impaired-driving fatality occurred every 50 minutes in 2016.
Impaired Driving Crash Data by Age Group
Of the traffic fatalities in 2016 among children 14 and younger, 17% occurred in alcohol-impaired-driving crashes. The 25- to 34-year-old age group had the highest percentage (27%) of drivers with BACs of .08 g/dL or higher in fatal crashes compared to other age groups in 2016.
Drunk Driving Accidents by Vehicle Type
The highest fatalities involved motorcycle riders (25%), compared to passenger cars (21%), light trucks (20%), and large trucks (2%). In 2016, among the 10,497-alcohol impaired-driving fatalities, 67 percent (7,052) were in crashes in which at least one driver had a BAC of .15 g/dL or higher. (SOURCE: https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/812450)
If your life has been turned upside down by a drunk driver, you need a drunk driving accident injury attorney who will fight for the justice you deserve. At Armando Personal Injury Law Firm, we are experienced in dealing with the large insurance companies and have a strong record of getting the maximum compensation for our clients.
What happens after a drunk driving car accident?
There are many consequesnces when someone chooses to get behind the wheel while intoxicated.
Causing the death of another person while being under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a second-degree felony in Florida, for which the penalty could be up to 15 years in a Florida State Prison. Sadly, even these tough penalties are not working as the deterrent they’re intended to be considering we still have a significant amount of people killed by drunk drivers.
Damages in Drunk Driving Civil Cases
After a car accident resulting from an impaired driver, the victim or the their surviving spouse will be entitled to recover compensatory damages as well as punitive damages.
Compensatory damages include:
Medical Expense include ambulance bill, hospital bill, rehabilitation bill, transportation costs, and medications. These, along with any other medical expenses related to your injury, would be covered.
Lost Wages for time that the victim had to miss work due to their injuries from a drunk driving accident.
Loss of Earning Capacity in cases of serious injuries which cause permanent disability or death as a result of the accident.
Pain and Suffering to cover compensation for mental anguish and physical pain a person suffers as a result of the drunk driving accident.
Loss of Consortium when spouse of a victim may be entitled to seek compensation for the loss of intimacy or damage to the quality of the marriage resulting from the crash.
Punitive damages can only be asked for from a jury, but only after a judge assesses that there is a reasonable foundation for them. This requires the victims lawyer to file a motion for punitive damages and have a hearing to show what evidence would support a foundation for a jury to award punitive damages.
At trial Punitive damages will be awarded if the victims lawyer can prove them by “clear and convincing evidence” as to entitlement and if the jury is convinced by the greater weight of the evidence that the conduct:
- The defendant was personally guilty of intentional misconduct or
- Gross neglect
Intentional misconduct means that the defendant had actual knowledge of the wrongfulness of the conduct and the high probability that injury or damage to the claimant would result and, despite that knowledge, intentionally pursued that course of conduct, resulting in injury or damage.
“Gross negligence” means that the defendant’s conduct was so reckless or wanting in care that it constituted a conscious disregard or indifference to the life, safety, or rights of persons exposed to such conduct.
Who pays for the damages and injuries that result from a drunk driving accident in Tampa, Florida?
Drunk driving car accidents often involve issues surrounding the amount of insurance coverage that the impaired driver has. Many times, the drunk driver does not have enough, if any, liability insurance to cover the damages he or she may have caused. That is why it is important to have a drunk driving car accident lawyer help the victims of drunk drivers find additional avenues of recovery, such as potential dram shop claims and Uninsured or Underinsured Motorists claims.
Dram Shop Claims:
Dram shop claims are claims made against a bar or nightclub who have continued to serve alcohol to an intoxicated person. Once that person gets behind the wheel and cases an accident, said bar or nightclub can be liable for the resulting injuries to others. Florida Dram Shop law state:
768.125 Liability for injury or damage resulting from intoxication.—A person who sells or furnishes alcoholic beverages to a person of lawful drinking age shall not thereby become liable for injury or damage caused by or resulting from the intoxication of such person, except that a person who willfully and unlawfully sells or furnishes alcoholic beverages to a person who is not of lawful drinking age or who knowingly serves a person habitually addicted to the use of any or all alcoholic beverages may become liable for injury or damage caused by or resulting from the intoxication of such minor or person.
A careful reading of the statute reveals that Florida protects establishments who sell to a person of legal drinking age in most cases. The only time a bar or restaurant may be held liable when they sell alcohol to a person over the age of 21, is if the person selling the alcohol knowingly served a person habitually addicted to alcohol. The other exception where bars and nightclubs will be held liable is when they sell alcohol to a minor and that minor gets hurt or hurts someone else.
Uninsured Motorist/ Underinsured Motorist (UM/UIM) Claims in Tampa, Florida
Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist coverage is found on your own car insurance policy. This protection covers you if a drunk driver causes an accident and injuries, but the at fault driver has little or no coverage. This would mean, should you be injured by a drunk driver and you have uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, that we would have a viable claim against your insurance carrier for all of the damages in excess of the drunk driver’s policy limits.
It is important to note that Pursuant to Florida Statutes, section 627.727, every motor vehicle liability insurance policy issued in Florida, which provides bodily injury liability coverage, must include an equal amount of uninsured motorist vehicle coverage unless the insured makes a specific rejection of that UM/UIM coverage. We recommend everyone purchase UM/UIM insurance as it’s not particularly expensive and can provide you with much needed relief in the event you suffer serious injuries in a drunk driving accident.
Free Consultation With a Hillsborough County Drunk Driving Accident Attorney
At Armando Personal Injury Law Firm, we have a drunk driving accident attorney team that stand ready with investigators that are able to meet with you immediately and at your convenience, fight for your rights with purpose and integrity. On the surface, a drunk driving accident may seem cut and dry; the reality is that these types of cases require detailed investigation, and it may be difficult trying to find all of the available insurance.