Unfortunately, Clearwater’s bustling nightlife and bevy of bars and restaurants mean that residents are not immune to troubling drunk driving accident statistics. Victims of drunk driving collisions often suffer serious injuries, many of which can have life-altering consequences and limitations.
If you suffered injuries in a Clearwater drunk driving accident, an experienced Clearwater Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer can help you better understand the compensation you deserve. Contact Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA and Sibley Dolman today at 833-552-7274 (833-55-CRASH) to speak with one of our passionate Clearwater drunk driving accident lawyer.
Experience. Determination. Results.
At Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA and Sibley Dolman, we have extensive experience dealing with auto accident claims, including claims by victims injured in drunk driving accidents.
In one notable claim, we helped win $939,000 for a victim injured in a drunk driving accident. We have also helped multiple auto accident victims achieve substantial results in their claims: one truck accident victim with a brain injury received $3.2 million in compensation, while a victim with two herniated discs following an auto accident received $1.58 million in compensation.
These past results cannot guarantee the results of your drunk driving accident claim. The experienced Clearwater personal injury attorneys at Sibley Dolman and Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, however, are committed to achieving the best results possible for every one of our Clearwater clients.
The Aftermath of Clearwater Uber Drunk Driving Accidents: Serious Injuries With Lifelong Consequences
Drunk drivers display decreased focus and concentration, and less ability to safely control their vehicles. Often, drunk drivers struggle to keep their vehicles on the road or to navigate safely. Poor decision-making skills and slowed reaction times create a perfect storm that can substantially decrease those drivers’ ability to maintain control of their vehicles during an accident. As a result, drunk driving accident victims often have more substantial injuries than those involved in other types of auto accidents.
Traumatic Brain Injury
Victims with traumatic brain injury often get portrayed in the media as losing their long-term memories. While traumatic brain injury can certainly cause a loss of long-term recall, it can also cause trouble with short-term memory, making it difficult for victims to retain instructions or remember the thread of a conversation.
Victims with a traumatic brain injury might lose the ability to focus or concentrate on a task at hand. Many struggle with emotional regulation following the accident: they may react with extreme emotion to relatively mild stimuli or find themselves having emotional reactions inappropriate to the situation. Many even notice personality changes following the accident.
Not only can this make it difficult for victims of traumatic brain injury to work, many find it difficult to hold on to relationships in the aftermath of their accident. They may struggle to interact normally with friends and family members or find themselves feeling isolated and distanced. Many also struggle with ongoing physical symptoms that interfere with sleep, perception, and more. Even mild traumatic brain injury victims may notice that symptoms linger for more than a year after the accident. Victims with moderate or severe traumatic brain injury may suffer lifelong limitations and implications as a result of the accident.
Spinal Cord Damage
In many accidents, including drunk driving accidents, the spinal cord suffers substantial damage. If the spinal cord severs completely, the victim may suffer full paralysis and loss of sensation below the site of the injury. Victims may also notice decreased organ functionality below the site of the injury. Even victims who suffer incomplete spinal cord damage, in which the spinal cord does not sever completely, may suffer decreased mobility and sensation below the site of the injury. The higher the injury occurs, the greater the extent of those limitations.
Many victims with spinal cord damage need to use a wheelchair to get around. When the injury occurs high on the spine, it can even make it difficult or impossible for the victim to use his hands and arms. Many victims cannot return to work long-term following the accident. Others may lack the ability to complete their former work responsibilities, especially if they work in highly physical professions. Spinal cord injuries can also make it necessary for victims, particularly highly active victims, to give up many of their former hobbies and pursuits or to adapt them to fit their new limitations.
The violent force of an auto accident can cause limb amputation on the spot. For some victims, however, amputation occurs after the initial accident: damage to the limb may cause such severe limitations that the victim decides to have it removed to increase the overall quality of life, or doctors may have to remove the limb due to lack of blood flow and necrotic tissue.
Amputation leaves the victim without the use of the limb. While some victims use prosthetics to replace the missing limb, many prosthetic devices offer more benefits to appearance than functionality. Amputees must typically relearn how to perform many tasks, including self-care tasks. They can also expect ongoing costs from prosthetics if they can use them and choose to do so. Not only do most amputees have to replace their initial prosthetic within a year, since the shape of the stump often changes dramatically during that time, victims usually have to replace prosthetics every three to five years due to general wear and tear.
If the car catches fire during an accident, it can cause severe burns to the victim. Burns cause a great deal of pain and suffering and scarring that can permanently change the victim’s appearance. Many burn victims suffer from the physical changes that occur due to their burns, even if they receive plastic surgery intended to help restore normal appearance.
Burns also have a high rate of complications. The skin provides a vital protective layer that helps prevent infection. Burns strip away that layer of protection, increasing the risk of infection. Many victims find that infection lengthens their recovery time. Burn victims often require a long stay in a special burn unit to help reduce the risk of infection. Burn victims may also suffer decreased mobility around the site of the burn, especially when burns cause scarring around joints.
Victims with broken bones may struggle to complete many self-care tasks, much less taking care of work-related tasks. A single broken bone can make it difficult for the victim to care for himself. Multiple broken bones can make it incredibly difficult for victims to engage in normal self-care tasks. Some broken bones require surgical treatment and long-term physical therapy for the victim to restore as much strength and flexibility as possible in the injured limb. Often, victims with broken bones need considerable time before they can go back to work or complete their normal job tasks.
How Much Compensation Can You Expect After a Clearwater Drunk Driving Accident?
Many victims find the compensation they can receive after a Clearwater drunk driving accident a top point of concern. How much compensation do you really deserve? What should you expect the insurance company to offer after a drunk driving accident?
The driver’s inebriation at the time of the accident does not impact the compensation that you, as the victim, can receive for your injuries. If the liable driver receives a drunk driving conviction, it can serve as critical evidence that the driver caused the accident. It does not, however, change the compensation that the driver and/or their insurance company must pay as a result of the accident.
The compensation offered for drunk driving accident victims usually gets based on several key factors.
1. How much liability insurance does the driver carry?
In most drunk driving accidents, you cannot receive more compensation than the maximum coverage offered by the driver’s insurance policy. Some drivers, including commercial drivers or rideshare drivers, may carry more substantial insurance policies than drivers who drive only for personal use. An attorney can help give you a better understanding of how much compensation the driver’s insurance policy allows.
2. How much did your medical treatment cost?
The medical treatment you needed for injuries sustained in a drunk driving accident usually serves as the foundation of the compensation you will receive for your injuries. You can include the full cost of medical treatment as part of your Clearwater drunk driving accident claim after a drunk driving accident: everything from immediate, emergency medical transport and treatment in the emergency room to the ongoing cost of physical and occupational therapy, which may go on for months or even years after your accident.
Your medical costs generally serve as the foundation of compensation for pain and suffering, as well. Typically, an insurance company will assign your pain and suffering a value that represents a percentage of your medical expenses, usually between 1.5 and 4 times your medical costs.
3. How much work did you miss as a result of your injuries?
Serious injuries can make it difficult to return to work for a long time after your accident. Some employers, depending on the type of injuries you sustained, may allow you to work remotely or to limit your work responsibilities during your recovery. Other employers, on the other hand, may need you to make a full recovery before allowing you to return to your workplace. You can claim compensation for those lost wages as part of your Clearwater drunk driving accident claim.
Who Bears Liability for a Clearwater Uber Drunk Driving Accident?
Florida Statute § 768.125 notes that the owners of bars, restaurants, and other establishments where drinking takes place will not face liability in a drunk driving accident caused by a patron of those establishments. While some states do hold those establishments liable for over-serving drivers who then cause accidents after leaving the establishment, Florida law names the driver as the party who holds liability for drinking and driving.
Ultimately, the driver bears liability for his decisions behind the wheel, including the decision to drink and drive. Most of the time, those drivers bear primary liability in any accident. Other factors, however, can contribute to those accidents: mechanical failure, for example, could leave the vehicle manufacturer liable for a percentage of the accident.
A drunk driver on the clock at the time of the accident may share liability with his employer, especially if the employer:
- Has unrealistic expectations for the driver, including trying to force the driver to get behind the wheel despite known inebriation.
- Knows the driver has a history of driving while intoxicated, but continues to employ the driver anyway.
- Fails to properly maintain the vehicle, increasing the risk of an accident.
An experienced drunk driving accident attorney can give you a better idea of any other parties that share liability for your drunk driving accident and help you file a claim against any other party that bears liability for the accident.
A Note on Insurance Settlements
After you suffer injuries in an accident with a drunk driver in Clearwater, you may get a call from the insurance company that covers that driver. The insurance company may quickly issue a settlement offer that would get much-needed money in your hands fast.
Unfortunately, in many cases, insurance companies may try to convince you to accept a low settlement in exchange for agreeing to a settlement quickly. That initial settlement offer may not reflect the funds you really deserve for injuries sustained in a drunk driving accident. Talk to our experienced Clearwater drunk driving accident attorneys as soon after your accident as possible to get a better idea of the funds you deserve in compensation for your injuries and when to accept a settlement offer.
Clearwater Drunk Driving Accident FAQ
While Pinellas County is a hot destination for restaurants, hotels, and watering holes, drunk drivers are unfortunately a common occurrence. Drunk driving accidents often leave victims with serious injuries, and Clearwater residents are no exception. Drunk drivers have decreased reaction time, more trouble navigating the road, and decreased visual awareness. As a result, they often cause more serious injuries than sober drivers in accidents. Following a drunk driving accident, you may have substantial questions about your legal rights and the potential outcomes of a personal injury claim.
Contact an experienced Clearwater drunk driving accident attorney as soon after your accident as possible to get answers to specific questions about your accident and your claim.
1. How much compensation do I deserve after a Clearwater drunk driving accident?
Following a drunk driving accident caused by another party, you likely have the right to compensation for your injuries. Several factors can contribute to the compensation you receive.
Who caused the accident? In Florida, drivers must carry a minimum of $10,000 in PIP coverage for bodily injuries caused in an auto accident. Uber and Lyft drivers, on the other hand, usually carry policies that offer up to $1 million in coverage for injuries and damage sustained in an accident. Commercial drivers, including truck drivers, may also carry high-limit policies that can offer substantially more compensation.
Following a drunk driving accident, you may find that other factors contributed to the accident. For example, a tire blowout could instigate an accident, especially since a drunk driver may have more trouble controlling the vehicle. Identifying another party that contributed to the accident can help increase the compensation you may receive for your injuries.
Likewise, if a commercial driver hit you while on the clock, that driver’s company may share liability for the accident: for continuing to employ a driver known to drink and drive, for example, or for requiring a driver to drive while still under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
What injuries did you sustain in the accident? The extent of your injuries can have a substantial bearing on the compensation you can receive for a Clearwater drunk driving accident. Serious injuries, including injuries like traumatic brain injury or spinal cord injury, can cause much higher medical bills than, for example, broken bones. Your medical expenses often pose a large basis of your compensation. Typically, even compensation for pain and suffering gets based on a percentage of your medical expenses related to the accident.
Your medical bills may also include any complications you sustained during your recovery. You can factor in the cost of physical therapy, occupational therapy, and durable medical equipment as well as the initial medical expenses associated with your accident.
How much work did you miss because of your injuries? In addition to compensation for your medical expenses, you can ask for compensation for the time you had to miss at work because of your injuries. How much you lose in lost wages may depend on the severity of your injuries as well as the type of work you typically perform. For example, if you typically work in a highly creative profession, you might return to work quickly after your accident if you suffered only minor broken bones. On the other hand, if you suffered a traumatic brain injury, it could prevent you from performing the duties associated with that profession long-term. We attorney can explain how to include your lost wages and your lost time at work as part of your claim.
2. I know the other driver was drunk, but the police did not convict him of drunk driving. Will it affect my Clearwater drunk driving accident claim?
The other driver’s criminal status at the time of the accident has no impact on the compensation you will receive for your injuries. A civil and criminal action are entirely separate matters, with different evidentiary standards. If the police report or other evidence from the accident clearly establishes that the other driver caused the accident, it does not matter if the other driver receives a drunk driving conviction or not. If the driver does receive a drunk driving conviction, it can provide valuable evidence that will help establish your claim.
3. How can I show evidence that the other driver involved in my Clearwater drunk driving accident was inebriated?
Your attorney will discuss whether the other driver’s inebriation has any bearing on your claim. You may need an expert witness to establish intoxication, especially if the police did not conduct a blood test or breathalyzer test at the time of the accident. Your attorney may also review evidence from the accident: for example, if the attorney can clearly establish that the other driver had several drinks immediately before the accident, it could establish inebriation as a contributing factor in the accident.
You do not need to look for evidence regarding the other driver’s inebriation at the time of the accident. Your attorney can take care of that for you.
4. What should I do after a drunk driving accident in Clearwater?
After a drunk driving accident in Clearwater, the steps you take can have a significant influence on your recovery as well as your ability to receive compensation for the accident. You should:
Get medical care. Make medical care your top priority after any type of accident. A doctor can properly assess and diagnose your injuries and help you get the treatment you need for them. That visit to an emergency room or urgent care facility will also establish a chain of evidence that will help you show when your injuries occurred.
Keep track of all medical records and bills while you manage your recovery. You may need to show that evidence as you file your personal injury claim.
Contact your insurance companies. Get in touch with your insurance companies as soon as you can after your accident: both your health insurance and your auto insurance. If you carry personal injury protection insurance—a requirement for all Florida drivers—you can use that insurance to cover the first part of your medical expenses. You will, however, need to notify your insurance company about your accident and how it occurred to streamline your claim.
When you talk to your health insurance company, make sure you ask several questions related to your claim.
You need to know:
- How much you can expect to pay in copays and deductibles.
- How much you can expect your insurance company to cover for physical therapy sessions and occupational therapy. Many insurance companies have a calendar year maximum for those types of treatments.
- How much you will receive in coverage for durable medical equipment.
- Any questions about your out-of-pocket maximum.
Contact an experienced personal injury attorney. A personal injury attorney can offer many advantages throughout your claim. Following a drunk driving accident, get in touch with a Clearwater personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. That lawyer can help establish the compensation you deserve for your injuries, give you a better idea of how long it will take to resolve your claim, and help you avoid any steps that could minimize your compensation.
5. I got a call from the drunk driver’s insurance company. They offered me a settlement for my injuries. Should I take it?
Many insurance companies will try to minimize their financial liability after an accident by offering you a low settlement soon after the accident. This settlement may reflect the minimum amount the insurance company thinks it can get away with, rather than the full compensation you deserve for your substantial injuries and medical expenses.
An attorney can help give you a better idea of how that offer relates to the compensation you really deserve. Get in touch with an attorney before deciding whether to accept any settlement offer. Many attorneys will offer a free consultation to give you a better idea of what to expect and help decide when to accept an offer.
6. How long will it take to get compensation for a drunk driving accident in Clearwater?
You should expect it to take some time for you to actually receive compensation for your drunk driving accident. You may need to go through numerous rounds of negotiation before arriving at an agreement that works for both you and the liable driver’s insurance company.
Several factors can influence the time it takes to settle your claim.
- How severe are your injuries? Severe injuries often lead to a request for a high level of compensation to cover your medical expenses. The insurance company that covers the drunk driver, however, may fight to minimize that compensation as much as possible, especially in the case of serious injuries with high medical bills.
- How much have you recovered? In some cases, you may not know what your long-term prognosis will look like until several months after your Clearwater drunk driving accident. Victims with incomplete spinal cord injuries, for example, may not know for some time how much mobility they will regain or how it will impact them long-term. Victims with traumatic brain injury may also have a long road to recovery: symptoms of even minor traumatic brain injury may linger a year or more after the accident. Your attorney may advise waiting until you have a solid idea of what your prognosis will look like long-term before filing a personal injury claim, since this information can impact both the compensation you need to cover your medical bills and how you will handle resuming your usual activities—or if you can resume them—after the accident.
- How hard will you negotiate? To reach a settlement, both you and the insurance company or liable party must agree on the amount. Many victims go through several rounds of negotiation before they reach an agreement with the liable party. Each round of negotiation adds time to your claim.
- Do you need to go to court to reach a resolution? If you need to take your claim to court, it may significantly extend the time needed to reach a resolution in your claim and, therefore, the amount of time it takes for you to receive a settlement or judgment.
7. What should I do about my medical expenses after a drunk driving accident in Clearwater?
As the victim injured in the accident and, therefore, the person receiving medical care, you bear primary liability for your medical expenses. For many accident victims, that represents stressful medical debt.
We can help you explore your options when it comes to paying for your medical expenses.
- Start with your personal injury protection insurance. Following any Florida accident, including a drunk driving accident, you can use your personal injury protection insurance to cover your initial medical expenses. You will provide this information to the hospital when you receive treatment. You can use your personal injury protection insurance regardless of who caused the accident or what factors contributed to your injuries.
- Use your medical insurance. If you carry medical insurance, it provides valuable protection in the event of serious injuries, including injuries sustained in a drunk driving accident. Your medical insurance will provide long-term coverage for your medical expenses after an accident.
- File a personal injury claim. A personal injury claim can help provide compensation for your medical expenses after a drunk driving accident. The party that caused your accident or their insurance company will not pay those medical bills directly. Instead, you will receive a check in the amount of your settlement or, if you had to go to court to reach an agreement, your award. Many victims must wait for the funds from a personal injury claim to arrive before they can pay their medical bills. If you need to put off collections for medical bills following an accident, your attorney can write a letter of protection. This letter will establish your intent to pay your medical bills once you receive your settlement and will prohibit the hospital and other medical providers from taking collection actions until you resolve your claim.
You Need a Clearwater Drunk Driving Accident Attorney
An average of 2.1 percent of Florida citizens report driving after drinking an excessive amount. In a recent year, that led to 814 deaths across the state—between 17 and 27 a year in the Clearwater area.
If you suffered injuries in one of the far too many drunk driving accidents that take place in Clearwater, or your loved one died in one of them, do not wait to connect with our experienced personal injury attorneys. The sooner you get in touch with us, the sooner our attorneys can offer a free evaluation of your claim.
With offices on both Florida coasts, Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA and Sibley Dolman are eager to help Clearwater residents better understand their rights following a drunk driving accident. Contact our firm today at 833-552-7274 (833-55-CRASH).
800 N Belcher Rd
Clearwater, FL 33765