The City of Doral has plenty of attractions for residents and visitors alike. You can relax at the Doral Hotel & Country Club and take in some of Miami Beach's famous nightlife in downtown Doral. In most of these (and other) locales in the Doral area, you can also regularly find folks relaxing and unwinding with a cocktail, glass of wine, or a cold beer. Most enjoy their beverages responsibly.
However, a few do not, and they go on to cause catastrophic drunk driving accidents. If you suffered injuries in a crash involving a Doral drunk driver, you have likely faced unexpected physical, mental, and financial difficulties. You do not deserve to bear those burdens at all, and you certainly should have to shoulder them without help.
The party who caused your Doral drunk driving accident and injuries should bear legal and financial responsibility for them. The Doral drunk driving accident lawyers at the Dolman Law Group represent victims seeking compensation for injuries and losses.
About Our Doral Law Firm
Dolman Law Group is affiliated with Florida law firms with offices on both coasts. We represent clients in a wide variety of personal injury matters, including legal actions seeking compensation for injuries suffered in Doral drunk driving accident accidents.
Over our years of practice, our teams have compiled an impressive track record on behalf of our clients. We have recovered millions of dollars for injured Floridians in car accident cases through settlements and jury verdicts. Of course, that is no guarantee that your claim will have a favorable outcome. However, it does reassure our clients that they have personal injury lawyers fighting for them who know how to get results in even the most challenging cases.
The Prevalence of Drunk Driving in Doral
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that drunk driving has decreased by about one-third over the last 30 years. However, we still have a long way to go to fix the scourge of drunk driving in this country. One person dies from drunk driving accident injuries every 50 minutes in the U.S.
Florida falls in line with the national trend - drunk driving in Florida has also decreased over recent years, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV). However, too many drunk drivers still plague the roads of the Sunshine State, including in and around Doral:
- According to FLHSMV data, around 400 people die every year in Florida alcohol-related crashes, and roughly 3,000 suffer injuries.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that Florida's alcohol-related crash statistics historically stay above the national average, especially among those between ages 21 and 34, the age group most likely to drink and get behind the wheel.
- In the Doral area, alcohol contributes to well more than 300 crashes a year, nearly 200 injuries on a bad year, and an average of about 20 deaths annually.
Doral Drunk Driving Accident and No-Fault Insurance
If you are a Florida resident who owns a vehicle, you likely know ours is a no-fault insurance state. The law requires all residents who register a vehicle to carry a minimum of $10,000 of coverage in property damage liability (PDL) and a minimum $10,000 in personal injury protection (PIP) coverage.
If you haven't been in an accident until now, it's understandable if you are uncertain about how the state's no-fault system works. When an accident happens, each party's own PIP coverage pays for their injuries first, regardless of who caused the accident. Florida standard PIP coverage pays for 80 percent of medical expenses and 60 percent of lost wages up to your policy limit.
In drunk driving accidents, however, the cost of medical care for injuries can quickly meet or exceed the $10,000 minimum. Once this occurs, victims with severe injuries can often seek additional compensation from the at-fault parties by taking legal action.
If this seems confusing to you, then you are not alone. Florida's no-fault laws can tie accident victims in knots trying to understand whether their PIP coverage applies. The attorneys at Dolman Law Group, however, have years of experience working with South Florida drunk driving accident victims and helping them navigate their way through no-fault insurance rules.
Doral Drunk Driving Accident Injuries
Doral drunk driving accidents frequently leave victims with severe, catastrophic, and even fatal injuries. At Dolman Law Group, we have experience representing crash victims who have suffered injuries such as:
- Traumatic brain injuries. Drunk driving accident victims who suffer head trauma often must cope with some level of traumatic brain injury (TBI). Direct trauma to a driver's or passenger's head, as well as indirect trauma from movement during impact, can lead to a TBI. Mild, moderate, and severe brain injuries can cause lifelong struggles with chronic headaches, thinking, memory, and other cognitive functions. Brain damage can also impact balance, sight, hearing, and behavior. Some TBI patients even experience personality changes, such as increased aggression and struggles with acting appropriately in social situations.
- Spinal cord injuries. One of the worst accident injuries a drunk driving accident victim can face is a spinal cord injury. Unlike other injuries, spinal cord damage is often permanent. Even minor back injuries might result in swelling or bruising of the spinal cord that results in paralysis. Severe injuries can lead to permanent loss of body function. Typically, the higher up the spine the injury occurs, the worse the functional loss, because the injury blocks messages from traveling from the brain to more parts of the body. Many spinal cord injury patients find themselves confined to a wheelchair for life and needing costly, ongoing treatment for life.
- Amputations. The violent impact of a severe drunk driving accident can crush or pin the limbs of vehicle occupants. Crushed and pinned limbs may not get adequate blood flow, and as a result, doctors may need to amputate the limb to save the crash victim's life. Amputees face multiple physical and emotional challenges related to their loss and typically need costly medical treatment and care to help them cope with the loss of their limb.
- Back injuries. In a Doral drunk driving accident, the bodies of vehicle occupants can twist and contort in unnatural positions, resulting in severe back injuries including fractured vertebrae and herniated discs. These injuries can lead to chronic discomfort and pain that even multiple surgeries and powerful pain medications may not fix.
- Bone fractures. Doral drunk driving accident victims often suffer broken bones, some of them involving multiple, complex fractures. Some of these injuries may heal in time, but for others, full recovery is not possible. Victims of severe breaks may have to undergo one or more corrective surgeries to reconstruct affected areas with screws, pins, or surgical plates. Many struggle with long-term chronic pain, limited range of motion, and disability.
- Neck and shoulder soft tissue injuries. The soft tissue in the neck and shoulders of vehicle occupants often suffers severe trauma in a Doral drunk driving collision. These injuries can cause lasting pain and stiffness and may lead to chronic conditions that victims struggle to address with pain medications and other therapies.
Of course, these are just some of the types of injuries Doral drunk driving accident victims can suffer. No matter what type of injury results from a drunk driver's reckless, criminal conduct, the team at Dolman Law Group has the skill and resources to assess a victim's needs and to pursue maximum compensation.
How Dram Shop Laws Apply to Doral Drunk Driving Accident Claims
Liability often seems clear in drunk driving cases. Had the drunk driver not consumed alcohol and decided to drive, the accident would not have happened. The accident is the drunk driver's fault, so they should have a legal liability to crash victims. That is usually accurate. However, it does not make the drunk driver the only party with potential liability to crash victims.
Others may also owe money damages to people injured in Doral drunk driving crashes. Among them are bars, restaurants, and other businesses that sell or serve alcohol. In Florida, dram shop laws can make the establishment where a drunk driver consumes alcohol legally and financially responsible for victims' injuries and losses.
According to Florida law, if a business knowingly serves “a person habitually addicted to the use of any or all alcoholic beverages,” it may face legal liability for any harm that person subsequently causes in a drunk driving accident. Additionally, Florida law may also hold a business responsible for damages related to a drunk driving accident if caused by a minor to whom the business served or sold alcohol.
At Dolman Law Group, our team of experienced Doral drunk driving accident lawyers investigates the facts and circumstances of our client's injuries to determine if a business establishment should face legal and financial accountability.
Seeking Compensation After a Doral Drunk Driving Accident
Victims of Doral drunk driving accidents who suffer serious injuries and exhaust their PIP insurance coverage often have legal rights to take legal action seeking compensation from the parties at-fault (which may include the drunk driver, a bar or restaurant, and others whose dangerous decisions or actions led to the crash). Every case is different, but in a legal action, Doral drunk driving accident victims can often seek compensation for:
- Medical expenses beyond what PIP insurance covers, including ambulance service, visit to the emergency room, hospital stay, surgery, X-rays, follow-up visits, prescription medication, and travel expenses to and from the doctor.
- Estimated future healthcare costs relating to permanent, life-altering injuries requiring ongoing treatment and care, sometimes including nursing home care.
- Costs for rehabilitation such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, mental health services, and other treatment that helps drunk driving accident victims regain lost functions and cope with any permanent disabilities or conditions.
- Lost wages from time away from a job because of the drunk driving accident, injuries, hospital stay, and rehabilitation.
- Costs for assistive technology and devices such as computer programs for communication, wheelchairs, prosthetic limbs, and crutches.
- Estimated lost future wages and benefits if a victim suffers permanent injuries that prevent returning to work or seeking employment in the future.
- Physical and emotional pain and suffering.
- Loss of consortium with a spouse.
- Diminished quality of life.
The severity of a Doral drunk driving victim's injuries and the financial resources of the party with legal liability for them can affect the amount of money victims might receive by taking legal action.
How Florida's Statute of Limitations Applies to Your Case
When a drunk driving accident leaves you with financial expenses and losses, the law allows you a civil remedy for holding the at-fault driver responsible for their negligence. The law also imposes a time limit on your right to recovery per Florida Statutes § 95.11:
- It generally allows you to file your personal injury lawsuit up to four years from the date of the collision. A lawyer will use your car accident report to establish the applicable date and ensure compliance.
- The same statute generally allows you to file a wrongful death lawsuit up to two years from the date of a loved one's demise. A copy of your loved one's death certificate will establish the applicable date.
The statute of limitations can be somewhat ambiguous, making compliance difficult to achieve. According to Florida Statutes § 95.051, some factors that affect the deadline include:
- The age of passengers or other accident victims
- The involvement of a government vehicle
- The at-fault party left the state before you could file your lawsuit
With sufficient notice, a personal injury lawyer will make sure your case meets the state's filing deadline. Failure to do so could eliminate any possibility of obtaining the financial compensation you deserve. However, timely compliance protects your right to go to court if you cannot settle your case.
Doral Drunk Driving Accident FAQ
A Doral drunk driving accident can leave you with a lot of questions. Does the drunk driver's conviction for driving while intoxicated impact your right to seek compensation for your injuries? Can you file a claim against the bar or restaurant that over-served the intoxicated driver? Look at the FAQ below and contact Dolman Law Group to ask any additional questions you may have about your Doral drunk driving accident claim.
1. The Driver Who Caused My Doral Auto Accident Was Convicted of DUI. Does That Affect the Compensation I Could Recover for My Injuries?
When a person is injured in an accident caused by a drunk driver, they can often seek compensation from that person for their injuries through a personal injury claim. A personal injury claim allows the victim to seek compensation for three major types of damages: medical costs, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
In general, the drunk driver's conviction for driving while intoxicated will not increase the compensation you can recover through your drunk driving accident claim. In some cases, a court may order an intoxicated driver to also pay punitive damages or fines on top of standard personal injury claim damages. The court usually decides this in a separate trial, and the punitive damages or fines are often paid to the court or the state rather than the victim.
However, the driver's conviction for driving while intoxicated can help you establish that the driver bears complete liability for the accident. With that conviction, you may have an easier time moving forward with your drunk driving accident claim.
2. The Driver Who Caused My Doral Drunk Driving Crash Did Not Receive a DUI Conviction. Do I Still Have Grounds for a Claim?
The criminal case against a driver who chose to drive while intoxicated and the civil case against that same driver whose negligence led to the victim's injuries are separate cases. If another driver's negligence caused your injuries, you have the right to move forward with an auto accident claim regardless of whether or not that driver receives a criminal conviction for driving while intoxicated.
Many factors can change how a criminal drunk driving case proceeds. If the chain of evidence in a blood alcohol test gets disrupted, or the driver does not take a breath test or blood test immediately after the accident despite clear intoxication, they may get out of the drunk driving conviction. However, a drunk driving accident claim may proceed very differently than a criminal case.
In a personal injury claim, the injured party's attorney needs only to prove that the other driver's negligence caused the accident. A drunk driver who caused an accident likely ignored the rules of the road, failed to adhere to traffic signs, or drove aggressively. They may have swerved repeatedly or stopped abruptly and without warning. You may have evidence of these driving mistakes even if you do not have evidence that the driver was driving while intoxicated.
3. Can Other Issues Make It Seem Like a Driver Was Intoxicated? If So, Can That Change the Compensation I Could Recover Through a Claim?
Several issues can make a sober driver seem like they drove while intoxicated. For example, a person who suffers from very low blood sugar may behave in a similar way to an intoxicated individual. Sleep deprivation can also lead to similar effects. Traumatic brain injury during the accident can also cause the driver to behave in an intoxicated manner at the scene of the accident.
If a driver can prove that one of those issues led to the appearance of intoxication, rather than drug or alcohol consumption, they may avoid criminal penalties associated with driving while intoxicated. However, if a driver engaged in dangerous or negligent behavior on the road, regardless of whether that dangerous behavior occurred due to intoxication, you may have grounds to move forward with an auto accident claim. Talk to an attorney about the specific circumstances of your accident to learn more.
4. What Should I Do to Protect Myself After a Doral Drunk Driving Accident?
The steps you take immediately after a Doral drunk driving accident can go a long way toward protecting your finances and your physical health. Start by prioritizing medical care. Visit the Doral Emergency Room or head for Jackson West Medical Center to have a doctor look for any potential injuries you may have sustained in the accident.
That trip to the hospital helps ensure that you identify any potential injury, many of which, including broken bones, may not show symptoms immediately after the accident due to high levels of adrenaline in your body after a traumatic event like an auto accident. Your medical records from that visit also provide a record of exactly when your injuries took place, which could prove critical for a later auto accident claim. Always report the accident.
A drunk driver may have a particular incentive to try to convince you not to report the accident, since a drunk driving conviction could result in license revocation, hefty fines, and even jail time, depending on whether or not this is the driver's first drunk driving offense. However, failure to report the accident could make it difficult for you to move forward with an auto accident claim.
A police report stating the exact time, date, and location of the accident as well as the officer's assessment of fault in the accident can go a long way toward helping prove your claim. Make note of any situations that may have increased the accident's severity, including the behavior displayed by the drunk driver. Try to record a statement about the accident as soon as possible, while the accident remains fresh in your mind and before you have a chance to forget anything related to the accident.
Finally, get in touch with an attorney as soon after your Doral drunk driving accident as possible.
5. What Happens at My Initial Consultation With a Personal Injury Lawyer? How Much Will It Cost?
Your initial case review will likely be a brief meeting with a lawyer or other representative of the law firm. At this meeting, you can expect them to ask questions that draw out details of the accident. These might include questions about the accident's cause and your personal recollections.
If you have already obtained it, bring a copy of your police report to this meeting. If your initial case review takes place as a phone call, you might be asked for information from the report (including its number) that can allow your attorney to obtain a copy. Review any additional information as well, including any post-accident photos or videos you might have taken on your smartphone.
Your lawyer will ask other questions that help clarify the cause of your crash, the length of time remaining on the statute of limitations, and the potential extent of your injuries and property damage.
You will receive an explanation of your case's probative value and can ask the attorney any questions you may have. A potential timeline might be discussed, though no one can tell you precisely how long your case will take to settle or to go through the court system.
You can expect to have the fee structure reviewed to ensure both parties are aware of the contingency fee process and how it works. Finally, if you mutually agree on representation, you may be asked to sign paperwork to that effect.
6. If I Suffered Injuries in a Doral Drunk Driving Accident, do I Have the Right to File a Claim Against the Bar or Restaurant That Supplied Alcohol to the Driver?
Florida's dram shop law states that a bar or restaurant is not liable for a drunk driver's behavior unless the drunk driver is underage or the server knowingly serves a person who is habitually addicted to alcohol.
Florida's dram shop law acknowledges that a drunk driver generally bears responsibility for their actions, starting with the choice to drive while intoxicated. In most cases, this means that if you suffered injuries in a Doral drunk driving accident, you would need to pursue compensation through the liable driver's insurance policy, not the bar or restaurant that served them.
7. Do I Really Need an Attorney to Help Handle a Doral Drunk Driving Accident Claim?
You might assume that you will have no trouble recovering the compensation you deserve when it comes to your Doral drunk driving accident claim. After all, you have a clear record of the other driver's intoxication and a police report clearly stating the other driver caused the accident. So, do you need a lawyer? Unfortunately, despite clear evidence regarding who caused your accident, you may still need an attorney to work with you on your claim.
An attorney can offer several key benefits to your Doral drunk driving accident claim. An attorney can investigate whether other factors may have contributed to the accident. The liable driver chose to drive while intoxicated, which likely led to poor decision-making on the road and ultimately contributed substantially to the accident. However, other factors may also have contributed to the accident, such as a mechanical malfunction.
A deeper investigation into the accident might uncover the fact that the driver, a known alcoholic, frequented a specific bar or restaurant, meaning the bar or restaurant might bear partial liability for the accident. Again, an attorney can help conduct a deeper investigation into these and other potential factors, identify anything that might have contributed to the accident, and provide a thorough assessment of who you need to include in your claim to pursue the compensation you deserve.
An attorney's investigation can also help uncover additional evidence that you need to clearly establish your right to compensation. An attorney can help you navigate your dealings with the insurance company. You know the other driver caused your accident. The other driver knows that they caused your accident. However, their insurance company may still try to deny your claim or reduce the compensation they pay out as much as possible following your Doral drunk driving accident.
The insurance company may use several tactics to try to minimize the compensation it has to pay out, from issuing a low initial settlement offer to trying to prove that you contributed to the accident in some way. An attorney can help you navigate these challenges and decrease the odds that you will inadvertently minimize the compensation you ultimately recover. In addition, an attorney can help you understand the compensation you deserve.
Sometimes, Doral drunk driving accident victims don't realize how much compensation they deserve for their injuries, leading them to accept a low settlement offer instead of fighting for the full compensation they deserve. An attorney can help ensure that you know how much compensation you deserve for your injuries, making it easier to move forward with your claim with confidence.
8. Who Must Pay My Medical Bills After a Doral Drunk Driving Collision?
As the injured party, you will need a plan to pay your medical bills related to your Doral drunk driving accident injuries. Since you will receive the medical services - and in many cases, get to decide what services you receive - you will need to arrange for upfront payment, hoping that the other driver will reimburse you through your drunk driving claim.
However, you do have some options that can help alleviate the financial strain associated with your Doral drunk driving accident medical bills:
- Use your PIP insurance. Florida drivers must carry personal injury protection (PIP) insurance, which will pay some of your medical bills after an auto accident. You can use your PIP insurance regardless of which driver caused your accident.
- Use your health insurance. Health insurance can offer vital protection as you navigate the medical costs associated with a serious accident. Make sure you contact your health insurance provider to learn more about the specific coverage you have for the types of care your doctor says you need, including physical and occupational therapy or durable medical equipment.
- File an auto accident claim. An auto accident claim does not mean the liable party's insurance will pay your medical bills directly. Instead, it means that you can use the funds from that claim to cover the cost of your medical bills after an accident. However, with those funds, many Doral drunk driving accident victims have found that they can alleviate some of the financial strain from the accident.
Experienced Drunk Driving Accident Lawyers in Doral
The skilled legal team at Dolman Law Group understands the challenges victims face after suffering injuries in a Doral drunk driving accident. We are here to guide our clients through the claims process, investigate their drunk driving accidents, and build the strongest case possible against the drunk drivers and others who caused them harm.
Contact us today online or call (727) 451-6900 for a free consultation to discuss the specifics of the Doral drunk driving accident that caused you injuries and losses. During this initial meeting, you'll learn about your legal rights to receive compensation for them. Dolman Law Group represents clients on a contingency fee basis. We only get paid if our clients recover compensation through our work.
Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA
8400 NW 36th St Suite 450
Doral, FL 33166