Driving while intoxicated is a crime in Florida and throughout the United States. When a drunk driver causes an accident, they will usually face criminal penalties. However, criminal penalties do nothing to compensate the victim of the accident for their injuries.
While the criminal courts are effective at convicting and sentencing drunk drivers, it is the civil courts that are set up to provide victims with compensation. Because criminal and civil matters are completely separate, it may still be possible to recover compensation from a drunk driver even if criminal charges are never filed or the driver is acquitted.
Which Injuries Are Common After a Drunk Driving Accident?
If you have been the victim of a drunk driving accident, you may have suffered serious injuries such as:
- Head and brain injuries, including traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
- Neck and back injuries
- Spinal cord damage, including paralysis
- Cuts and lacerations
- Bruises and burns
- Broken bones
- Damage to internal organs
- Joint damage
Under Florida law, victims are able to recover compensation for their injuries resulting from the fault of a drunk driver. It’s important to note that Florida has “pure comparative negligence” laws, which means that if you suffered injuries as a result of a drunk driver and your case goes to trial, the jury or the judge will determine the level of responsibility for each party involved in the accident. The damage awards are then reduced by that percentage. For instance, if it is determined that you were 25% at fault for the accident, your compensation will be reduced to 75% of the damages.
What Type of Compensation Am I Entitled To?
The types of compensation you may be entitled to include:
- Medical expenses. If you are injured in an accident caused by a drunk driver, you can seek compensation to pay for all medical costs you incur, including present and future medical bills.
- Lost wages. This includes financial compensation for missed work due to being injured and unable to perform your job.
- Loss of Earning Capacity. If the injury results in permanent disability that affects your ability to work like you were able to prior to the accident, you are entitled to collect damages to make up the difference.
- Pain and suffering. This is a non-economic damage, so it is harder to quantify. Pain and suffering is meant to compensate you for all of your mental anguish, physical discomfort, and stress that you have experienced due to the accident.
- Wrongful death. This type of compensation is usually sought by close relatives of victims who die from a drunk driving accident.
- Loss of consortium. The victim’s spouse may be able to pursue compensation for the damage to the quality of the marriage or loss of intimacy resulting from the accident.
- Punitive damages. If the driver’s blood alcohol exceeded the legal limit or the driver drove recklessly, for example, punitive damages, or exemplary damages, may be available. These relatively rare damages are intended to punish the wrongdoer and deter future reckless behavior.
This list of damages is not exhaustive. Other types of damages may be available in accidents involving drunk drivers. It is critical that you contact Holliday Karatinos Law Firm, PLLC if you or a loved one have been injured in a drunk driving crash.
What to Do After Being Hit by a Drunk Driver
After you are involved in any type of car accident, you should always first get to a safe location and seek medical treatment. Call 9-1-1 and report your name, where the crash took place, the number of vehicles involved, and any injuries you are aware of. If you are too hurt to get out of your vehicle, wait for the first responders. Never admit fault for the accident.
You need to collect information about the accident so that you can later file an injury claim or lawsuit against the responsible party. Make sure you gather the following:
- The names and contact information of all parties involved, including witnesses
- Information about the vehicles involved, including license plate information and registration
- Insurance information from all drivers involved
- Where the accident took place
- What the lighting conditions and weather were like
Take plenty of photos of the accident scene with your camera or smartphone. Make sure you get photos of your injuries, vehicle damage, and any potential evidence from the accident scene.
How To Build A Case Against a Drunk Driver?
A personal injury attorney can help build a case against a drunk driver who caused your injuries. The Holliday Karatinos Law Firm can help with an array of important tasks, including ensuring that the accident is thoroughly investigated and documented, and all relevant evidence is collected. We can also assist with filing a lawsuit so you can pursue damages for your injuries.
The skilled lawyers at Holliday Karatinos Law Firm, PLLC are ready to fight for your rights and guide you through the complex legal process. We work on a contingency fee basis, which means that you not pay us a dime unless we successfully help you recover financial compensation in your Florida drunk driving accident case. Call us today or fill out our online form to schedule a free and confidential initial consultation.