Drunk driving can have horrible consequences. While accidents will always happen as long as there are cars on the road, drinking before getting behind the wheel opens the window to an avoidable catastrophe. The State of Florida has strict motor vehicle laws meant to deter and punish drivers caught over the legal drinking limit.
Contact The Law Place if you or a loved one have been involved in a DUI accident. We have 75 years of combined experience representing personal injury victims and defendants charged with a DUI in the Clearwater area. We guarantee a thorough approach tailored to the specific needs of your case and can give you desperately needed peace of mind during such a trying time.
The Law Place offers a free consultation with a Clearwater personal injury attorney to give quality legal advice for your DUI accident case. We will explain your options and our payment structure, so there are no surprise fees or costs for our services.
Our phone lines are open 24/7, and our firm’s representatives are waiting for your call.
Call The Law Place at (941) 444-4444.
What Is a DUI?
The criminal charge for drunk driving is known as a DUI, or driving under the influence, in Florida. Motorists with a BAC (blood alcohol content) over the state’s legal limit of .08% can be charged, and their license may be suspended.
If an underage person is caught with a BAC over .02%, they can be charged with a DUI as per Florida’s zero-tolerance policy. A CDL holder or truck driver on duty with a BAC over .04% can also be charged and have their CDL suspended immediately.
The consequences of drunk driving are understandably severe. Jail-time is unlikely for a first offense but becomes more certain with each successive DUI charge. Fines can number in the thousands of dollars. Drivers can also be forced to attend substance abuse counseling as well as perform community service.
Should I Get a Lawyer if I Was Hit by a Drunk Driver in Clearwater, FL?
You should consult an attorney if you are involved in an accident or struck by a drunk motorist. Even if you did not sustain serious injury, you might be entitled to punitive damages. You need the legal aid of a qualified DUI accident attorney if you want to claim these.
Florida no-fault law dictates that in the event of an auto accident, extra damages cannot be sought unless a serious injury is sustained. However, the criminal nature of a DUI means extra damages can be claimed as a form of punishment for the driver at fault. Florida Statute 768.72 allows for punitive damages if the defendant was personally guilty of intentional misconduct or gross negligence. Drunk driving falls under this category.
Who Can I Sue for a Drunk Driving Accident?
Typically it is just the drunk driver who can be sued for an accident. However, this can change depending on who served the individual, and if the motorist was actually of drinking age. You may be able to file for damages against other parties found responsible for the accident.
Dram Shop law, established by Florida Statute 768.125, means you are not able to sue licensed venues for allowing an accident to happen as a result of serving patrons. However, certain circumstances may negate this clause.
If the bar had prior knowledge of the individual’s drinking problem and continued to serve them anyway, you can prove negligence. If the establishment gave alcohol to an underage person, this is considered negligent as well. In both of these cases, plaintiffs can claim damages against the driver and the bar.
Individuals who supply alcohol to underage persons are also negligently responsible for their actions after the fact. They can be held to account for any financial damages the crash may entail.
How Much Can You Sue a Drunk Driver For?
Florida no-fault law, laid out by Florida Statute 627.7407, means that you will not be able to sue for your drunk driving accident unless you have endured a serious injury. Serious injury is defined by Florida Statute 316.027 as wounds that pose a substantial risk for death, loss of mobility or bodily function, or permanent scarring. Insurance will cover all economic expenses related to the crash, such as medical bills and property damage, up to the maximum amount allowed by the policy’s coverage.
Settlements for drunk driving cases vary greatly depending on the circumstances of the crash and any injuries the victim may have sustained. There is no average amount that is settled in drunk driving cases or any personal injury cases, for that matter.
Pain and suffering, the non-economic damages you would claim in a DUI crash case, can be calculated in a few different ways, which will affect the final settlement amount. The extent of your injuries, the mental and physical anguish they caused, and the loss of enjoyment or ability in your life all factor into how much you may be owed. Due to this, each case is just as unique as the people involved.
For example, one plaintiff may be awarded $200,000 because of their catastrophic spinal injury. This would generate an intense loss of enjoyment in their life and cause an extreme burden on their family for an extended period. Another case may end in a settlement of $50,000 because of their broken leg and the anguish that came of it. The injury is not as serious, and the calculated pain and suffering damages will reflect this.
The wrongful death of a loved one in a DUI crash will also allow for damages to be claimed. How much you can claim will depend on the value they represented in your life. Although it is terrible to measure someone’s life in dollars and cents, the courts will think according to this, and your lawyer will present arguments in economic terms on your behalf.
How Long Do I have to File a Drunk Driving Accident Claim?
Any DUI claim is classified as a personal injury claim, which falls under Florida Statute 95.11. The plaintiffs have up to four years to file an action in civil court to recover damages from negligent parties.
Although you may think this is plenty of time to get the ball rolling on your case, an attorney will advise you to file the suit as soon as possible. As time goes by, evidence supporting your claim may deteriorate or disappear entirely. A Clearwater car accident lawyer will collect and organize any evidence on your behalf, so this doesn’t happen.
Consult a Clearwater, FL., Drunk Driving Accident Attorney
Have you been injured as a result of an accident with a drunk driver? Have you endured serious pain and suffering as a result of their criminal negligence?
If you have, you are entitled to seek damages that an insurance company won’t provide.
Talk to The Law Place Clearwater personal injury lawyers today. With a combined experience of over 75 years and an excellent attorney-client relationship, our firm can help you hold responsible parties accountable for their actions. We offer a free consultation where you can sit down with a qualified Clearwater attorney to discuss the specifics of your case. We will also explain how our contingency fee structure works, so there are no surprise costs for our legal services.
All contingency fees are monitored by the State Bar Association.
Schedule your free case evaluation today. Our representatives are available 24/7 to take your call.