Palm Harbor Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer
We all know the inherent dangers of drunk driving – it slows our reaction time, impairs judgment, and is a major contributing factor in Palm Harbor car accidents. Despite knowing its risks, many drivers choose to negligently drink and drive, contributing to thousands of injuries and deaths each year. Between 2003 and 2012, nearly 8,500 Floridians lost their lives at the hands of a drunk driver. Around 2.1% of citizens admit to driving under the influence, which is higher than the national average of 1.9%.
If you or a loved one suffered harm due to a drunk driver, you may be coping with severe or incapacitating injuries. You may also be eligible for compensation for the full extent of your injuries, pain, and suffering. Contact the Palm Harbor Drunk Driving Accident Lawyers at Bulluck Law Group today and schedule a free initial consultation. We’re committed to protecting your rights under Florida law and will work to hold drunk drivers accountable for their actions.
What Constitutes Drunk Driving in Florida?
Florida, like every other state, considers a blood alcohol concentration of .08 to be intoxicated. In some cases, the BAC can be lower – drivers under the age of 21, for example, may face drunk driving charges if they have any discernable amount of alcohol in their system.
You may have a BAC of .08 if you consume two drinks in a one-hour period. Ultimately, however, any number of factors will influence your BAC, including your gender, weight, tolerance, and even the amount you’ve eaten that day. When in doubt, arrange for alternate transportation and never get behind the wheel after drinking too much.
What Should I Do After a Drunk Driving Accident?
If you or a loved one recently suffered injuries due to a drunk driver, it’s essential to understand your legal options. Your next steps could determine your right to compensation and the amount of your settlement or court judgment. After a drunk driving accident, take the following steps:
- Ask for a copy of the police report. The police are required to report to the scene of any accident that involves injury. If you were receiving emergency medical care and were unable to provide a statement to the responding officer at the time of the accident, now is the time to do so. Contact the police department and provide as much information as possible: what you were doing, how the other driver was acting. Be thorough, but don’t get overly emotional.
- Don’t sign any paperwork or agree to any recorded statements from an insurance company. When one driver has an on-scene DUI charge, it’s easy to determine who was at-fault for the accident. To speed the claims process, the at-fault driver’s insurance company might present you with a low-ball offer that does not reflect fair compensation for your injuries, pain, or suffering. Don’t sign anything unless instructed to do so by an attorney.
- Contact a Palm Harbor drunk driving accident attorney. A personal injury attorney from Bulluck Law Group can help you understand your rights, including what your car accident claim is worth. Let us negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf to obtain fair compensation for your injuries.
Damages Available in Drunk Driving Accident Claims
Under Florida law, drunk driving accidents leading to serious injuries may result in compensation for the following types of damages:
- Economic damages, which provide reimbursement for reasonable medical expenses, lost wages from missed work, any loss in earning capacity, and any future medical or therapy expenses.
- General damages, which compensate for intangible losses such as loss in life quality, pain, suffering, and emotional anguish. When a drunk driving accident leads to wrongful death, it may also address loss in partnership or consortium.
- Punitive damages are reserved for cases of gross negligence or intentionally reckless conduct, which applies to drunk driving. When another person willfully puts another person in danger by getting behind the wheel while impaired, he or she could face civil damages, payable to the victim, which serve as punishment for his or her wrongdoing.
What About Other Forms of Drug Use?
One of the more common questions we receive is, “Can I file a claim against someone who was driving high or under the influence of other drugs?” The answer is a resounding yes. Under Florida law, it’s simply illegal to drive while intoxicated or impaired, so a driver may face DUI charges for being incapacitated for marijuana or any other illicit drugs. In fact, drivers may even face DUI charges for operating under the influence of prescription drugs that he or she takes legitimately. There have even been cases where victims have recovered damages from drivers who took sleep aids like Ambien and got behind the wheel.
Prescription drugs are required by law to include labels when they cause impairment, and drivers have a responsibility to read these labels and use a reasonable amount of caution. If you don’t smell marijuana or see evidence of illicit drug use or alcohol, be sure to tell a responding officer if you notice any symptoms of impairment like erratic driving behavior or drifting in and out of lanes.
How Do Drunk Driving Claims Differ From Traditional Car Accident Claims?
Generally, a drunk driving accident claim makes it easier for victims to step outside of the no-fault insurance system and hold a drunk driver accountable for their actions. Drunk drivers tend to drive recklessly and at high speeds, all with a lower reaction time. This often leads to more serious accidents, with incapacitating or even permanently disabling injuries or death.
Who Is Responsible for Damages?
A drunk driver is most often responsible for the damages that arise from an accident involving a DUI. However, there are certain instances in which a business may share the blame. Under Florida’s “dram shop” laws, a business, bar, or party store may be partially liable for damages if they willingly and knowingly sell alcoholic beverages to someone who is visibly or obviously intoxicated. If a business knowingly serves alcohol to any minor, it may be responsible for any damages that result. This highlights the need for an experienced Palm Harbor drunk driving attorney to help you through the claims process.
How Long Do I Have to File a Suit?
Florida has a time limit for filing personal injury actions against drunk drivers, which is referred to as a statute of limitations. You have four years from the date causing the accident or injury to file a personal injury claim, though this time limit may be shorter in some cases (such as those involving government employees). It’s in your best interest to contact a car accident attorney as soon as possible to protect your right to compensation. Failure to file a lawsuit within the designated time frame could cause a case dismissal, even if the other party was negligent.
Why You Need an Experienced Palm Harbor Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer
Drunk driving crashes have notable differences from traditional car accident cases, as they are often a matter of criminal negligence. If someone’s reckless conduct led to your or a loved one’s injuries, he or she should be accountable for their actions. At Bulluck Law Group, we aggressively defend your right to compensation for your injuries, pain, and suffering. Don’t pay the price for another person’s bad behavior. Contact our Palm Harbor Drunk Driving Accident Lawyers to schedule a free case evaluation and learn more about our contingency-fee legal services today.