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How Alcohol Can Be Involved in Personal Injury Cases

Operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a recipe for disaster. Alcohol is a depressant, and it slows down the functioning of a person’s central nervous system.1 This can result in an altered perception and delayed reaction time. When an individual drives after drinking too much, he or she often will not appreciate the consequences until it is too late.

If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident that was caused by the negligence, recklessness, or carelessness of a drunk driver, you may be eligible for monetary compensation under Florida law2 for the personal injuries, damages, and inconveniences you sustained as a result of the accident.

Our experienced Clearwater personal injury attorneys have the legal knowledge and expertise to assist you with proving the elements of your negligence case when a drunk driver is involved and will negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf in order to obtain the best possible result in your case.

Florida Drunk Driving Law

In the state of Florida, a driver with a blood alcohol or breath alcohol level of .08 or above can be charged – and possibly convicted – of driving under the influence of alcohol (i.e., a DUI3). Even if a driver has a blood alcohol content of below .08, that individual’s driving abilities may still be impaired or affected. This is especially true in the case of young, inexperienced drivers who are operating their vehicles while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Driving a motor vehicle while impaired or while under the influence of drugs or alcohol can produce some or all of the following effects:

  • An impaired state of mind
  • Altered depth perception
  • Blurry vision
  • Slowed reaction time
  • Inability to control the vehicle

When a driver is behind the wheel of a motor vehicle while impaired or under the influence of alcohol, devastating consequences, such as the following, can result:

  • Rear-end motor vehicle collisions (often resulting in serious, multi-vehicle chain reaction collisions)
  • Collisions with pedestrians (especially at intersections, on curbs, or on concrete medians in the middle of the roadway)
  • High-speed collisions with other vehicles (usually on freeways and highways)

Elements of Negligence

In order to prove negligence 4 in a motor vehicle accident where a drunk driver was involved, the injured plaintiff must generally prove all the following elements in every case:

  • Duty
  • Breach
  • Causation (factual and legal)
  • Damages

All drivers operating their motor vehicles on Florida roadways owe a duty of care to all other drivers to operate their vehicles in a reasonably careful and prudent manner – and to drive as a “reasonably prudent” driver would drive under the same or similar circumstances. When a driver operates a motor vehicle after drinking too much (or while impaired by drugs or alcohol), he or she is in breach of the applicable duty of reasonable care.

Therefore, when a drunk driver causes a motor vehicle accident which results in injuries and damages to another driver, the drunk driver can be deemed “at fault,” or negligent, for causing the motor vehicle accident.

The drunk driver’s motor vehicle insurance policy will likely provide the coverage to compensate the injured plaintiff for injuries and damages sustained in this accident. This is true even though the named defendant in the lawsuit will likely be the defendant drunk driver. In cases involving a hit-and-run – or where the injured plaintiff’s injuries and damages exceed the drunk driver’s insurance liability policy, the injured plaintiff may be able to name his or her own insurance company as a defendant in any personal injury lawsuit that is filed in the Florida court system.

Types of Damages Available to Injured Plaintiffs in Drunk Driving Cases

Injured plaintiffs in drunk driving car accident cases may be able to receive some or all of the following types of damages as part of their recovery:

  • Compensation for medical and physical therapy bills
  • Compensation for lost wages and time missed from work as a result of the injuries sustained in the subject accident
  • Compensation for past, present, and future pain, suffering, and inconvenience
  • Compensation for past, present, and future mental anguish and emotional distress
  • Compensation for psychological or psychiatric treatment that stems from the accident
  • Compensation for loss of earning capacity (where permanent injuries are involved)
  • Compensation for loss of consortium, companionship, or spousal support

In most personal injury motor vehicle accident cases, including accident cases involving drunk drivers, insurance companies, and their adjusters are not typically on your side. Adjusters and defense attorneys will usually try to explore all other possible causes for an injured plaintiff’s claimed symptoms, injuries, and damages – including pre-existing medical conditions, prior accidents, and degenerative changes that are present on MRIs and other imaging studies.

Contact a Clearwater Injury Attorney Today to Discuss Your Case

If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident as a result of the recklessness, carelessness, and negligence of a drunk or impaired driver, you may be entitled to monetary compensation under Florida law.

Insurance companies routinely try to challenge liability in personal injury accident cases and attempt to place some – or all – of the blame on the injured accident victim.

Even when insurance companies accept liability in car accident cases involving drunk drivers, they will still try to settle the case for as cheaply as possible. This is often true even when the accident victim sustained catastrophic personal injuries and damages resulting from someone else’s negligence.

If the insurance company does place an attractive offer of settlement on the table, our experienced Clearwater personal injury lawyers are not afraid to litigate your case, explore alternative dispute resolution options (such as mediation or arbitration), or take your personal injury car accident case to trial if necessary.

To schedule a free consultation or case evaluation with a Florida personal injury attorney, please call us or contact us online.

Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA 800 North Belcher Road Clearwater, FL 33765 727-451-6900 https://www.dolmanlaw.com/legal-services/drunk-driving-dui-attorneys/

1 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMHT0024762/

2 www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/

3 https://www.leg.state.fl.us/Statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0300-0399/0316/Sections/0316.193.html

4 https://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0700-0799/0768/Sections/0768.81.html