Legal Issues in Drunk Driving Injury Cases

May 8, 2017 | Attorney, Matthew Dolman
Legal Issues in Drunk Driving Injury Cases

Operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is extremely dangerous and often results in very serious motor vehicle accidents and personal injuries. Because alcohol is a depressant and slows down a person's central nervous system activity, a driver who is under the influence of alcohol will mostly likely experience altered perception and delayed reaction time while behind the wheel of a car or truck.

If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident that was caused by the negligence, recklessness, or carelessness of a drunk driver, then you may be entitled to monetary recovery under Florida law. This monetary recovery may be available to compensate you for all of the personal injuries, damages, suffering, and inconvenience you experienced as a direct result of a drunk driver's carelessness and negligence.

Our experienced New Port Richey personal injury attorneys have the legal knowledge and expertise to assist you with proving the elements of negligence in your drunk driving car accident case. Our attorneys can also negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf and assist you with obtaining the monetary compensation you need and deserve under Florida law.

Florida Drunk Driving Law

In the state of Florida, a driver with a blood alcohol content (BAC) level of .08 or above can be charged – and possibly convicted – of driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI). Even when a driver's BAC falls below that threshold, he or she may still be impaired while behind the wheel of a car or truck, potentially leading to a dangerous accident or collision with another vehicle.

Driving a motor vehicle while impaired or while under the influence of alcohol is dangerous and can result in one or more of the following occurrences:

  • An altered state of mind
  • Altered depth perception
  • Blurry vision
  • Dizziness while behind the wheel
  • Delayed reaction time
  • Loss of control over the vehicle

In cases involving a drunk or impaired driver, one or more of the following is likely to occur:

  • Rear end motor vehicle collisions, including multi-vehicle, chain-reaction collisions on highways
  • Collisions with pedestrians at intersections and on curbs
  • High-speed collisions with other vehicles

Elements of Negligence

In order to prove negligence in a motor vehicle accident involving a drunk driver, the injured plaintiff must generally prove all of the following elements:

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

All drivers who operate their motor vehicles on Florida roadways owe a duty of care to operate their vehicles in a reasonable, careful, and prudent manner – and to drive as a ‘reasonably prudent' driver would drive ‘under the same or similar circumstances.' When a Florida driver operates a motor vehicle while impaired or under the influence of drugs or alcohol, he or she breaches (or violates) the applicable standard of care and may be deemed responsible for any resulting motor vehicle accident.

In addition to the duty and breach elements of negligence, the injured plaintiff must also prove that the negligent action (i.e. driving a motor vehicle while impaired by drugs or alcohol) proximately resulted in the plaintiff's injuries and damages.

Whenever a plaintiff sustains injuries and damages in a drunk driving accident case, the drunk driver's motor vehicle insurance policy will likely come into play.

In cases involving a hit-and-run – or in cases where the cost of the injured plaintiff's medical bills and damages exceeds the drunk driver's insurance policy limits of liability – the injured plaintiff may be able to seek recovery from his or her own automobile insurance policy. In an underinsured motorist case such as this, the injured plaintiff's own insurance company may be named as a defendant in any lawsuit that is filed in the Florida court system.

Types of Damages Available to Injured Plaintiffs in Drunk Driving Motor Vehicle Accident 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 monetary recovery:

  • Compensation for medical and physical therapy bills
  • Compensation for lost wages and time missed from work as a result of the injuries and damages 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 that can be causally traced to the accident
  • Compensation for psychological or psychiatric treatment that stems from the accident
  • Compensation for loss of earning capacity (in cases of permanent injuries and impairment)
  • Compensation for loss of consortium, companionship, or spousal support
  • Compensation for permanent injuries, damages, and impairment that result from the accident.

In most personal injury motor vehicle accident cases, including accident cases involving drunk drivers, insurance companies and their adjusters are not typically looking out for you or your interests. They will often look to any pre-existing medical conditions, prior motor vehicle accidents, and preexisting degenerative changes in order to downplay the seriousness of your current injuries and damages.

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Contact a New Port Richey Personal Injury Attorney Today to Discuss Your Case

If you have been injured in a drunk driving motor vehicle accident case, you may be entitled to monetary recovery under Florida law.

Insurance companies like to challenge liability in personal injury accident cases, and adjusters often attempt to place some – or all – of the blame on the injured plaintiff's shoulders.

Even when insurance companies accept liability for a car accident, adjusters may still try to settle the case for much less than full value – even in personal injury accident cases that involve catastrophic injuries and traumatic brain damage.

If the insurance company refuses to settle your personal injury case for full value, our experienced New Port Richey personal injury attorneys welcome the opportunity to explore mediation, arbitration, and other forms of alternative dispute resolution - or take your personal injury car accident case to trial if necessary.

To schedule a free consultation or case evaluation with a New Port Richey personal injury attorney, please call us at 727-853-6275 or contact us online.

Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA 5435 Main Street New Port Richey, FL 34652 (727) 477-9660


Matthew Dolman

Personal Injury Lawyer

This article was written and reviewed by Matthew Dolman. Matt has been a practicing civil trial, personal injury, products liability, and mass tort lawyer since 2004. He has successfully fought for more than 11,000 injured clients and acted as lead counsel in more than 1,000 lawsuits. Always on the cutting edge of personal injury law, Matt is actively engaged in complex legal matters, including Suboxone, AFFF, and Ozempic lawsuits.  Matt is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving individual cases in excess of $1 million and $2 million, respectively. He has also been selected by his colleagues as a Florida Superlawyer and as a member of Florida’s Legal Elite on multiple occasions. Further, Matt has been quoted in the media numerous times and is a sought-after speaker on a variety of legal issues and topics.

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