Dedicated Florida DUI Accident Lawyer Serving Victims of Drunk Drivers
The worst thing about drunk driving car accidents is that they are 100% preventable. Drunk driving fatalities tear families apart. And this happens only because one person made a choice to get behind the wheel of an automobile while they were impaired.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), between 2003 and 2012, 8,476 people were killed by drunk drivers in Florida. Drunk driving accidents account for 28% of all traffic deaths in the United States. Drunk driving accidents are very serious and can result in severe injuries or even death.
Drunk driving is not an accident, it is a choice. Drunk driving creates hundreds of thousands of victims each year, despite strong and ongoing efforts by communities and governments to deter it. And, victims of DUI drivers in Florida should know and understand what their rights are when a DUI accident happens. A Tampa DUI attorney from Abrahamson & Uiterwyk can help.
What is Drunk Driving?
In Florida, a driver can be charged with Driving Under the Influence (DUI) if they are operating or in control of a vehicle while their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is .08% or higher. For commercial drivers, the BAC level required for a DUI is .04%, and for drivers under the age of 21, the BAC level is .02%. A drunk driver that causes an accident that results in serious bodily injury or death to another person can face additional charges.
Evidence of Drunk Driving
A drunk driver’s fault in an accident can be established using the same types of evidence that may be used in a criminal case. This evidence includes:
- Failure of field sobriety tests
- Results of a breathalyzer and/or blood tests establishing BAC
- Testimony of witnesses about the driver’s condition (smelled of alcohol, was stumbling or driving erratically)
- Police body-cam or dash cam video
- Any statements made by the driver to police or any other witnesses.
While it does not, by itself, guarantee liability on the part of the driver, if a drunk driver pleads guilty or is convicted of DUI, this is, of course, helpful to any lawsuit against the driver for damages. However, even if the driver is not convicted criminally, you can still pursue a civil case.
Florida Drunk Driving Laws
Florida is tough when it comes to holding drunk drivers accountable to their victims. There are extensive provisions in the Florida statutes that are aimed at helping DUI victims, including mandatory blood alcohol testing of all drivers involved in serious injury crashes who are killed or for those who survive, felony DUI charges for repeat offenders to get them off the road, and what are known as Dram Shop laws in which an establishment can be held liable for serving an intoxicated person who then causes death or injury as a result of an alcohol-related crash.
Florida law mandates that second-time offenders, and some first-time offenders, have an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicle. This device prevents them from driving while intoxicated.
Florida also takes one of the toughest stances in the nation when it comes to drivers under the age of 21. If a driver under 21 is stopped by law enforcement and they test with a blood-alcohol level of .02 or higher, their Florida driver’s license will automatically be suspended for six months. This .02 limit, in effect, means that drivers cannot have even one drink and then drive. Florida’s stance indicates a zero tolerance for drinking and driving.
Florida’s Dram Shop Act
Florida is one of the states that has enacted laws that create liability for bars and other establishments that sell liquor. The Dram Shop laws provide DUI victims with another avenue for determining who is legally liable for injuries and what type of punitive damages may be awarded.
Florida has a very limited statute that allows for the recovery of damages from someone who sells or furnishes alcohol to someone that causes injury as a result of intoxication. This is limited to bars, clubs, or individuals who serve someone who is not of lawful drinking age or knowingly serve someone who is habitually addicted to alcohol.
Florida Victim Impact Panels
In an effort to educate those convicted of drunk driving, and to educate the public, Florida has created Victim Impact Panels. These meetings serve to help victims cope with what has happened and to help offenders see the consequences of their decision to drive drunk. The panels are non-judgmental and simply a way to create a healing opportunity for all and for the victims to share their stories in a meaningful way.
Help For Victims of Drunk Driving Injuries
Florida’s Bureau of Victim Compensation has standards that must be met in order for DUI victims to receive compensation. The criteria include reporting the crime to the police, suffering an injury, cooperating with law enforcement, not engaging in unlawful activity at the time of the crime, and several other criteria that are easily met under ordinary circumstances.
Once the victim compensation criteria are met, there are several types of benefits and compensation available to victims of DUI. If someone has died, there could be a claim for wrongful death for loss of support, and in case of injury, loss of wages for time away from work. When an injury occurs there can be claims for medical expenses, physical therapy, and mental health counseling to help with the issues victims may be facing. If the injury is severe, there can be a claim for disability. Compensation is also considered for loss of property.
Court or Settlement?
While the criminal justice system and laws hold the offender responsible for their illegal actions, a personal injury DUI case is the most comprehensive way to hold offenders accountable for the full impact of what they’ve done. A personal injury DUI case allows victims to seek fair compensation for themselves and their families, regardless of what happens in the offender’s criminal case. The decision to go to a civil trial or to settle will be made with full regard to the victim and their rights to compensation. After all, victims should have the ability, as best as possible, to get their life back on track without severe financial or emotional burdens. Learn more about what to expect with a drunk driving accident settlement.
Drunk drivers create thousands of victims each day and Florida is at the forefront of protecting victims and their families from this negligent behavior. In recent years, Florida law has included extensive provisions for protecting DUI victims.
“Our experience shows us that insurance companies do not want to litigate drunk driving cases. Therefore, when we represent the victim of a drunk driver, we negotiate particularly aggressively. “ Erik G. Abrahamson Representing Victims of Drunk Driving for Over 30 Years
Understanding Punitive Damages and Drunk Driving Injury Claims
Drunk driving accidents can be tragic events that can forever change the life of an innocent family.
Often in drunk driving cases, there are separate punishments on the criminal and the civil side of the case. A personal injury lawyer can explain how punitive damages and drunk driving work hand in hand.
As the public’s disdain for drunk driving continues to grow, the penalties for drunk driving continue to increase.
For example, one 24-year-old woman received a sentence of 38 years in jail after she was driving drunk and killed another person. While the woman may not have intended the injury and at some point may have lost the ability to reason, she is receiving a serious punishment for her lapse in judgment to get behind the wheel after drinking.
When a person gets behind the wheel in an intoxicated state, he or she may be held liable if the conduct results in someone sustaining an injury. Drunk driving cases may involve two different sets of damages.
These are the damages that the plaintiff’s attorney can prove to a reasonable certainty, such as medical expenses and lost wages. Economists or doctors may be able to provide information about more speculative forms of these damages, such as the lost earning capacity, physical capacity, future medical expenses, and pain and suffering.
Punitive damages are meant to punish the offender for egregious actions. They are meant to deter future conduct from community members and to serve as a warning to others. These damages are typically established by statute and can usually go up to a certain amount. However, some statutes have exceptions that allow for higher awards of these damages.
Florida Drunk Driving Facts & Statistics
The statistics below demonstrate just how large the problem of drunk driving has become:
- Over 55,000 DUI tickets were issued in Florida in 2011 and more than 33,000 DUI convictions in the state that year
- There 716 deaths caused by drunk driving accidents in 2011, accounting for about 30% of all traffic fatalities in the state
- DUI fatalities have been steadily rising since 2000
- Some 112 million intoxicated drivers were on the road in 2010.
- About 3,000 people are injured or killed in drunk driving accidents every year.
- An average of about 300,000 drunk drivers behind the wheel every day.
- About 28 people are killed every day in drunk driving crashes.
- One in three people will be involved in a drunk driving accident of some kind in their lifetime.The Center for Disease Control reports that there are three groups that are particularly at risk for driving under the influence: repeat offenders, young drivers and motorcyclists.
- Nearly 50% of driver fatalities who tested positive for drugs also had a significant amount of alcohol in their system.
- The Florida DMV’s website reminds drivers that our state has an “Implied Consent Law” that applies to Florida drivers. When drivers sign for their driver’s license at the DMV, they are agreeing to comply with an officer’s request for a breath, urine or blood test if they have been pulled over. Refusing to comply can result in suspended license.
Were you Injured Because of a Drunk Driver?
Each year, thousands of innocent victims are seriously injured or killed in alcohol-related automotive accidents. For more than 30 years, Abrahamson & Uiterwyk has been fighting for victims of drunk driving who are seeking compensation for serious injuries caused by the reckless behavior of an intoxicated driver. If you or a loved one has been seriously injured by an intoxicated driver, Abrahamson & Uiterwyk can help. Our experienced Tampa DUI attorneys have over 100 years of combined experience fighting for the rights of personal injury victims.
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Contact a DUI Accident Lawyer in Tampa
If you’ve been injured in a DUI accident, or need more information from a DUI accident lawyer in Tampa contact Abrahamson & Uiterwyk online or call 866-598-8582 to set up your free consultation today.
At Abrahamson & Uiterwyk, our DUI injury legal team takes it personally when we work with innocent victims who have been seriously injured by the reckless behavior of a drunk driver. We’re driven to pursue personal injury claims related to these accidents efficiently and aggressively. Florida law allows victims of alcohol-related accidents to seek punitive damages against drunk drivers that are designed to punish them for their mistakes. Our drunk driving accident victim’s lawyers pursue the compensation that drunk driving victims deserve in the form of property damage, medical expenses, loss of income, funeral expenses, and pain and suffering. Abrahamson & Uiterwyk has recovered millions of dollars for victims who have been seriously injured due to another person’s neglect. Our drunk driving victim attorneys have the knowledge and experience to prove fault in the complex context that can surround injury claims.
If you’ve been involved in a car accident in Hardee County, contact a Hardee County car accident lawyer at Abrahamson & Uiterwyk for guidance and representation.
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