Drunk driving is one of the most harmful and dangerous crimes in the United States. Intoxicated drivers are responsible for over 10,000 deaths per year, with nearly 1,000 occurring in Florida. If you’re dealing with injuries or damage stemming from an accident caused by impaired driving, it’s normal to feel frustrated and confused. However, it’s crucial to address the situation properly, so this article will explain your rights if hit by a Florida drunk driver.
It’s essential to find adequate legal representation whenever you experience property damage or physical harm due to a crime like impaired driving. Navigating the legal system can be complicated, so consulting a lawyer can help you take full advantage of the legal recourse available. For residents of Florida, Pam Olsen Law is an excellent option.
Pam Olsen has assisted hundreds of Florida residents with car crash cases and can walk you through the options available after being hit by a drunk driver.
What Constitutes Drunk Driving?
Drunk driving is a crime involving operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. Whether someone is impaired or not is determined by measuring blood alcohol content or BAC. This limit is 0.08 percent in Florida, so anyone driving at this level or higher is considered a drunk driver.
Drunk driving is highly unsafe, as alcohol significantly impairs reflexes and decision-making. Both of these attributes are essential to driving, so it is no surprise that impaired drivers are far more likely to be involved in accidents.
What Legal Options Are Available to Victims?
Driving while intoxicated in Florida is a crime, so the law treats accidents involving DUIs significantly differently from typical accidents. If a drunk driver has struck you or your vehicle, you qualify as the victim of a crime. If you find yourself in this situation, seeking professional legal help is the best option, so Pam Olsen Law can help explain your options and help you pursue compensation.
However, it can also be helpful to stay informed about the legal system and the options available in your state. For this reason, the following sections will cover the basic ways victims of drunk drivers can pursue compensation for their damages.
Filing a civil lawsuit is an excellent option for anyone injured by a drunk driver. Civil cases involve providing evidence of your damages and proving why the defendant is responsible to a judge, after which the judge will determine the extent of the awarded damages. In drunk driving cases, victims have the right to sue for all related expenses.
These expenses include immediate costs like bills for medical treatment or ambulance rides. Additionally, long-term expenses may entitle victims to recovery, such as lost wages due to lasting injury that impairs the victim the ability to work. Compensation for pain and suffering due to ongoing injury or the loss of a loved one can also be items the court considers when calculating damages.
Offering the opportunity to recover the high costs of dealing with an automotive accident, filing a civil lawsuit is an excellent option for most people hit by a Florida drunk driver. However, there are a few options for parties the victim can sue for damages in DUI cases, so consulting an attorney like Pam Olsen is always wise.
The driver is the most obvious defendant in a civil lawsuit for drunk driving. As the party responsible for the accident, the court may require the driver to cover all medical and repair costs for the victim. However, victims need to consider the time constraints, as Florida requires them to file these lawsuits within four years of the incident.
Driver’s Insurance Company
Another option for victims of drunk driving accidents is to file a lawsuit against the driver’s insurance company. These suits can be effective options in cases where you may be unable to recover from the driver directly.
Bar or Restaurant
A less commonly discussed option for victims of drunk drivers is to pursue legal action against the bar or other establishment that provided the driver with alcohol. While bars are not liable for providing alcohol in every case, the court can consider them at fault if it becomes clear that they should not have provided the driver with additional alcohol.
These cases are often called dram shop claims and can be a valuable option for victims. Bars are obligated to regulate how much alcohol their clients consume, so victims can build compelling cases if they act irresponsibly. However, these cases are more complex than alternatives, so consulting an experienced professional like Pam Olsen Law is even more vital.
Victim’s Compensation Fund
Established by the Florida Crimes Compensation Act, the victim’s compensation fund is a state program providing financial restitution to victims of crimes in the state. As a drunk driving accident victim, you may qualify for funds for physical and property damage, but you must follow some specific steps. The best option is to contact a legal professional, but the following portion of the article will cover the basic requirements.
First, to qualify for the victim’s compensation fund, the victim must report the drunk driving incident within three days. Once you’ve reported the crime, you’ll have one year from the date of the crime to file your application. Additionally, you’ll need to cooperate with law enforcement throughout their investigation.
Get Legal Assistance Today
Dealing with auto accidents or injuries can be frustrating and scary, but drunk driving incidents considerably heighten things. If you or your loved ones are coping with injuries or trauma due to an impaired driver, we offer our sincere condolences. Fortunately, Florida law provides several avenues for victims of drunk drivers to secure compensation.
Finding effective legal representation is crucial if you’ve been the victim of a Florida drunk driver. At Pam Olsen Law, we have years of experience handling drunk driving cases and can help you navigate the process and make critical decisions. If you want to discuss your case with a trusted Ocala car accident lawyer, call Pam Olsen Law at (352) 671-9777 today.