Every day, someone is seriously injured or killed because of a drunk driver. In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), someone is killed in a drunk driving accident every 52 minutes in the United States.
At Zimmerman & Frachtman, P.A., our Florida drunk driving accident lawyers are prepared to stand up to those whose reckless and negligent decisions have caused them to hurt others. Getting behind the wheel of a car after one has been drinking alcohol is a very reckless act. The family members of a victim who was injured or killed in an accident are often left feeling helpless and sorrowful, and the injured parties themselves may be facing a lengthy and complicated recovery. We can help you hold the at fault party accountable as well as obtain compensation to cover your accident-related expenses while you focus on healing and getting your life back on track.
Drunk Driving Accident Data
Those unfortunate enough to have suffered at the hands of a DUI offender include people from every walk of life, creed, race, and skin color, both old and young. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that roughly 30 people are killed every day in the United States due to incidents relating to drunk drivers.
A rather hair-raising factoid from Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) is that, generally speaking, an impaired driver has driven in their current state at least 87 times before they are ever arrested. They also note that “each day, people drive drunk more than 300,000 times, but only about 2800 are arrested.”
Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) reported that in the year 2020, there were 746 fatalities from crashes involving alcohol, drugs, or a combination of both in the state. This is a significant decrease from 2019, although the COVID-19 pandemic likely skewed the numbers since fewer people were driving in general in 2020. Florida DUIs are common not only on our state’s roads but on the water as well since boating is such a common activity here.
On our blog, we have covered local DUI cases, including one about an off the clock cop who was charged with the prospect of DUI manslaughter as well as vehicular homicide. He killed a twenty-three-year-old woman in Miami while cruising about far above the legal limit.
One of the many sad things about drunk driving is that some people never seem to learn their lesson, and there are many repeat offenders. That is why Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and other organizations are working hard to raise awareness about the dangers of drunk driving. As a result of this, drunk driving accident fatalities are dropping; however, getting hit by a drunk driver remains a major concern. We highly recommended everyone to visit the MADD website to learn about their goals and to educate themselves on the inherent dangers of drunk driving and what you can do to mitigate its hold over the populace.
How to Prove Liability in Florida
In order to succeed in a drunk driving accident claim or lawsuit, you must establish liability. Obviously, the drunk driver would be clearly to blame for causing the crash, but you still need to provide ample evidence to maximize your entitled compensation.
Here are some general steps and considerations to prove liability in a drunk driving accident in Florida:
- Gather Evidence at the Scene: Always contact law enforcement immediately after a drunk driving accident. They will conduct an investigation and create an official police report. If it's safe to do so, gather evidence at the scene, such as photographs of the vehicles, any visible injuries, skid marks, road conditions, and any open containers of alcohol in the other driver's vehicle.
- Medical Records and Documentation: Even if you don't believe your injuries are severe, it's important to see a doctor and obtain medical records documenting your injuries. Keep records of all medical expenses, treatment plans, and any long-term impact the accident has on your health.
- Eyewitness Statements: Talk to any eyewitnesses who may have observed the accident. Their statements can help establish the other driver's intoxication and fault.
- Police Report: The official police report will typically include important information about the accident, including whether the other driver was tested for alcohol or drugs and the results of those tests.
- Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) Testing: Florida has strict laws regarding drunk driving. If the other driver was arrested for DUI, their BAC test results can be critical evidence. The legal limit for BAC in Florida is 0.08%.
- Surveillance Footage: If the accident occurred in an area with surveillance cameras, try to obtain footage that may show the other driver's actions leading up to the accident.
- Witness Testimony: Your attorney may depose witnesses, including the other driver, to gather sworn statements under oath.
- Expert Testimony: In complex cases, experts may be called upon to reconstruct the accident and testify about factors like speed, visibility, and causation.
- DUI Conviction: A DUI conviction in criminal court can be strong evidence of liability in a civil case. However, a civil case has a lower burden of proof than a criminal case.
- Consult with an Attorney: Hire a lawyer who specializes in personal injury law and has experience with drunk driving cases. They can guide you through the legal process, help gather evidence, and advocate for your rights.
Florida Dram Shop Laws
In Florida, dram shop liability is governed by statute 768.125 of the Florida Statutes. It establishes that a person or entity that provides alcoholic beverages to someone who is of lawful drinking age (typically 21 years old) cannot be held liable for injuries or damages caused by that person's intoxication. This means that if a bar or restaurant serves alcohol to a legal adult who later causes harm due to intoxication, the establishment is generally not legally responsible.
While Florida's dram shop law generally shields establishments from liability, there are exceptions. The law does allow for liability under specific circumstances, such as:
- Serving alcohol to a minor: If a business serves alcohol to a minor (someone under 21 years old) who subsequently causes harm, the establishment may be held liable.
- Serving an already intoxicated person: If a business knowingly serves alcohol to a person who is visibly intoxicated, and that person later causes harm due to their intoxication, the establishment may be held liable. Establishing "knowingly" serving can be challenging and often requires evidence like witness testimonies or surveillance footage.
Lawyers Who Understand the Law Specifically as it Concerns DUI Accidents
The attorneys at Zimmerman & Frachtman take drunk driving accidents very seriously. We will work directly with the victims who have been injured in the car accident in order to provide personalized representation to suit your needs. We will also work with the family members of a person who has been killed in a drunk driving accident during wrongful death claims. No matter the circumstances, our attorneys will work aggressively in order to make sure that victims are fairly compensated.
In most cases, the drunk driver will face criminal prosecution. The attorneys’ primary goal is to make sure that the victim and their family get the most compensation possible. Money will not take away the pain and suffering that people experience after they have been involved in a drunk driving accident. However, it does help protect the financial well-being of the victim and his or her loved ones after an auto accident.
People who have been seriously injured in a drunk driving accident are often left with serious questions that they may not be able to answer:
- How will I be able to pay my bills and support my family?
- How much will it cost to complete the therapy that I need?
- How will these complications from the accident impact my future?
The attorneys at Zimmerman & Frachtman will be able to help people answer those questions. Give us a call now to learn more.
Call for a Free Consultation with Our Car Accident Attorneys
We have made it our passion to help people whose lives have been negatively impacted by drunk driving and that means delving into understanding the kinds of emotional and financial stress it can cause. If you or a loved one have been the victim of drunk driving call us toll free for a consultation today. You have rights and we exist to protect them and see justice done for you and your family.
Contact us online or call (954) 504-6577 to learn more during a free, confidential consultation. You do not have to let a drunk driving accident turn your life upside down. You should contact Zimmerman & Frachtman so that you can find out about your legal rights!
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