St. Augustine Drunk Driving Accident Attorney
Drunk Driving Accidents in Florida
Motor vehicle accidents involving drunk drivers are often more serious and complex than typical car crashes. At the scene of the crash, drunk drivers may be belligerent and unaware of the damage they have caused. Victims are often shaken and understandably upset by the actions of the drunk driver who caused the accident.
Moreover, these circumstances are often the best-case scenario. Frequently, drunk driving accidents are so severe that those involved suffer serious injuries or die at the scene. According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV), of the 4,984 alcohol-confirmed crashes in 2019 (the latest year for which data are available), 351 were fatal and 262 resulted in incapacitating injuries. Another 1,462 resulted in non-incapacitating injuries. These numbers reflect ongoing statistics that show that every year in Florida, hundreds of people are killed and thousands more are seriously injured by drunk drivers.
If you were injured or if your loved one was killed by a drunk driver, it is important that you contact an attorney who is experienced in drunk driving accident cases. At Canan Law, we have more than 60 years of combined experience and have handled over 250 jury trials. We know what it takes to protect our clients’ rights, and we are ready to fight for the justice and compensation you deserve.
How Drunk Driving Accident Claims Are Different from DUI Cases
Like all other states, Florida has a set of laws prohibiting drunk driving. For most people, it is a crime to operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% and above. Commercial vehicle operators and underage drivers are prohibited from operating a motor vehicle with a BAC of 0.04% and 0.02% or higher, respectively.
Anyone who is found guilty of driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) faces criminal penalties ranging from jail time to fines to driver’s license suspension/revocation. While the purpose of these penalties is, ostensibly, to deter people from getting behind the wheel when intoxicated, they do little to help the actual victims of drunk drivers—those injured or killed in the crash.
To aid those who have suffered serious injuries and damages due to accidents caused by drunk drivers, Florida personal injury law allows victims to bring civil claims/lawsuits against at-fault motorists and/or other liable parties. The purpose of a personal injury or wrongful death claim is not to punish the drunk driver but to compensate the victims for their economic and non-economic losses.
By filing a drunk driving accident claim, you may be able to recover for the following damages:
- Current and future medical expenses
- Lost income, wages, and other benefits
- Lost future earnings
- Pain and suffering
- Property damage
- Funeral/burial expenses (in the event of wrongful death)
- Lost or reduced earning capacity due to disability
- Loss of love, support, guidance, and companionship (in the event of wrongful death)
In some cases, it may be possible to recover punitive damages. Unlike the compensatory damages outlined above, punitive damages are not meant to reimburse victims for their losses but, rather, to punish the defendant for wanton/willful negligence.
Filing a Claim After a Drunk Driving Accident in Florida
Because Florida is a no-fault state, most people who are injured in auto accidents must first turn to their own insurance provider for compensation. Your personal injury protection, or PIP, insurance provides compensation for up to 80% of your medical expenses and 60% of your lost wages regardless of how the accident happened or who was at fault. However, this is often not enough for those injured in accidents caused by drunk drivers.
Drunk driving crashes tend to result in devastating injuries that have lasting repercussions. This is due to a variety of factors, such as the fact that these accidents often happen at high speeds or without any attempt to brake by the alcohol-impaired driver. Catastrophically injured victims need significant compensation if they hope to heal and move forward from such serious crashes.
If your injuries meet the Florida “serious injury threshold,” which is often the case for drunk driving accident victims, you may be able to step outside the no-fault system and bring a lawsuit directly against the drunk driver and/or their insurance provider.
In Florida, your injury is considered “serious” if they meet one of the following conditions:
- The injury results in significant and/or permanent impairment of an important bodily function
- The injury results in significant and/or permanent scarring
- The injury results in significant and/or permanent disfigurement
- The injury results in death
When one of the above is true, our St. Augustine drunk driving accident attorneys can help you prepare to bring a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit against the drunk driver. This allows you to seek full compensation for your damages, including the full cost of your medical expenses and lost wages, as well as non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering.