Hit by a Drunk Driver – What You Should Do

Driving under the influence (DUI) is automatically negligence since it is a crime in Florida to drive intoxicated. If you are hit by a drunk driver in Florida and you sustain injuries, you may be able to sue for medical expenses, pain and suffering, and other damages. Whether you were a pedestrian, in a vehicle, or on a bicycle or motorcycle at the time of the accident, be sure to see a doctor, report the accident to the police, and if necessary, reach out to a personal injury lawyer.

What Defines DUI

In Florida, a minor (under 21) is considered DUI if the person’s blood alcohol content (BAC) is .02% or more. If 21 or older, BAC of 0.08% is considered intoxicated, and if driving commercially, the level is .04%. Many drivers will not even feel particularly impaired or only “buzzed” at this level. However, if police officers arrive on the scene and find that the driver’s alcohol level is over the limit they are automatically considered negligent and have committed a crime. 

What You Should Do Right Away

Under Florida Statutes – Motor Vehicles 316.065, you are required to file a car crash report within 10 days of the incident if any injury or death occurred, if the accident was caused by a drunk driver, if it was a hit-and-run, or if there was property damage of $500 or more. 

You also have 14 days to visit a doctor in order to be eligible for compensation for medical expenses under the Personal Injury Protection (PIP) law. Under PIP, your insurance policy is required to cover up to $10,000 of medical expenses due to the accident. 

When You Can Sue

If your medical bills resulting from the injuries sustained in the accident exceed $10,000, you may be able to sue for additional compensation. 

Under Florida law, in order to sue for personal injury, you must prove your injuries were sustained due to the negligence of another party. Since drunk driving is automatically negligent, you most likely have a case. If you were driving in an erratic, irresponsible, or illegal manner at the time of the accident, the other driver’s insurance company could argue that you were at fault. However, as long as you were driving responsibly, the negligence is on the part of the driver who was DUI. 

Like many other personal injury cases, you can sue for any of the following situations that apply:

  • Medical costs, current and future
  • Lost wages
  • Property damage
  • Pain and suffering
  • Other expenses caused by the accident, such as necessary changes to your home to accommodate your injuries
  • Loss of companionship in the case of serious permanent injury or death

But DUI cases are special; in these cases, you may also sue for punitive damages, which come out of the driver’s own pocket. The intention of punitive damages is to punish the driver. Punitive damages may be substantial if the driver has the means to pay. 

Who Can Be Sued Following a DUI Accident

As with most personal injury cases, the driver’s insurance company will be liable for some portion of the compensation. In addition, as stated above, the drunk driver can be sued directly for punitive damages. And finally, dram shop laws allow for the possibility of suing the person who served the driver alcohol. An establishment or individual can be held liable if they willfully sold or furnished alcohol to a minor (under 21) or to someone known to have a habitual drinking problem. This includes parents or friends along with restaurants, bars, and other establishments. 

An expert personal injury lawyer will research your case thoroughly and collect all the medical files, witness testimonies, and accident scene evidence necessary to build a powerful case for you. I take my clients’ needs very personally, leaving no stone unturned and working night and day to get you coverage for your expenses and appropriate compensation for your pain, suffering, and other losses. Call me today to start the process.

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