An accident has happened – another driver collided with your car. Maybe they ran a red light or didn't notice a stop sign, regardless, when you walk up to their window to exchange insurance information, you notice a pile of beer bottles. You smell alcohol on their breath and can see that they are having a difficult time understanding what just happened. Chances are, you're dealing with a drunk driver. Florida has strict laws against drunk driving and for good reason. Drunk drivers are one of the largest dangers on the roads in Florida. These drivers are often unpredictable and get behind the wheel of a car without concern for anyone else on the roads. Call our North Miami Beach Drunk Driving Accident Lawyers to learn about your legal options.
While the national limit for BAC (blood alcohol content) is 0.08% for those over the age of 21, many Florida drivers choose to drive when they are over the limit. The CDC found that one in three traffic deaths in the United States is caused by drunk drivers. These statistics are alarming and it's important to practice defensive driving on the Florida roadways, especially if you believe you are driving near a drunk driver.
What to do if you've been hit by a drunk driver
If you've been hit by someone who you believe was driving drunk, after evaluating your immediate medical needs, your first act should be to call the police. When they arrive on the scene they are likely to subject the impaired driver to a list of sobriety tests to evaluate their condition. The results of these tests should be carefully documented in their police report. The police might also speak with anyone who was on the scene when the accident happened. Collecting eyewitness testimony can help to support the actual cause of the accident.
After you have finished working with the police at the accident scene, it's important to seek medical attention. Even if you think you've only suffered minor injuries, a medical report is tantamount to showing evidence of physical damage after an accident. A doctor will be able to perform a thorough review and advise next steps. There is a good chance you will be required to come back for a follow-up examination a few days or a week later to make sure that your injuries are healing properly. In the event that you have suffered serious injury in the accident, you might need to spend time in the hospital.
One thing you should remember not to do – wait to give a statement to any insurance company until you have reviewed the details of your case with your attorney. Oftentimes, the insurance companies will try to get you to assume responsibility for the accident in order to avoid a settlement. It's better to play it safe and avoid all conversations because it can be difficult to know if what you say is actually hurting your case. Since you are not required to provide a statement, it's advisable to wait and let your attorney provide one for you.
How Working with an Experienced Car Accident Lawyer Can Help
After an accident, it can be difficult to know next steps to take. You've filed a police report and gone to see your doctor who evaluated your injuries. There's a good chance that the insurance companies are trying to get you to settle your claim and aren't offering anything close to the cost of your medical bills. Working with a skilled car accident attorney can remove these burdens and allow you to focus on resting and recovering from your injuries. An attorney can help with the following:
- Communicate with the insurance company on your behalf – insurance companies are notorious for offering an initial claim that is much lower than your actual claim is worth. An attorney can work with the insurance companies to present evidence showing that your current and future medical needs require a larger settlement. The insurance companies have a legal team working on their behalf and you should too.
- Collect any necessary documentation to help support your case – a police report, medical records, traffic cam footage, and recorded statements can all be valuable evidence to support your case. A lawyer can help collect all of this documentation and organize it in an effective way.
- Speak with eyewitnesses if needed – if there were any bystanders on the scene when the accident happened, this testimony can be a great asset to your case. An attorney can reach out to those who were present at the time of the accident and gather their testimony on your behalf.
Employ experts who can provide valuable insight into the accident and your medical condition – working with a medical expert can help validate your claim for just compensation. Many times, the insurance company won't factor your future medical needs into their settlement offer. A medical expert will help to outline your needs for current as well as future medical treatment.
In Florida, you have up to four years to bring a claim against a negligent driver, but it is advisable to start the process as soon as possible.
North Miami Beach Drunk Driving Accident FAQs
Driving in South Florida is a frustrating and time-consuming activity. While motorists in North Miami Beach expect to deal with stop-and-go traffic on 826 or congestion on Biscayne Boulevard near FIU Biscayne Bay Campus, no one plans on getting into a car accident.
What's even scarier is when the driver of another vehicle seems to be drunk. Sometimes no matter how much you may try to avoid a crash, the other driver being intoxicated increases the likelihood of a collision despite your best efforts.
In fact, in the United States, one in three traffic deaths involve a person who was driving drunk. A similar percentage is true in Florida, with intoxication contributing to 29 percent of fatal crashes.
If you are in an accident with another driver who you suspect or know was drunk, an attorney may help review the specifics of your situation. Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about drunk driving accidents that occur in North Miami Beach.
1. What does Florida law consider as being drunk while driving?
The most commonly discussed marker of being drunk or intoxicated while driving is a motorist's blood-alcohol level. Florida defines driving drunk as having a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 or above. The level comes from either a breath alcohol test (typically referred to as a Breathalyzer) or a blood test.
2. Is blood-alcohol level the only way to determine if a driver is drunk?
Not necessarily. While getting someone's blood-alcohol level may be the preferred official method of determining impairment, there are obstacles associated with these tests. Sometimes, depending on the situation surrounding a crash, emergency response teams, Florida Highway Patrol, or police may not administer the test for blood alcohol. In other instances, the test might be given hours after the accident, at a time when the person had naturally processed the alcohol in their system.
Therefore, even though the person may have been drunk and impaired at the time of the crash, negligence or breach of protocol may render test results that are not accurate.
3. What are some common signs that someone is drunk or impaired?
According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, a person under the influence of alcohol experiences:
- A decreased reaction time: The amount of time that a drunk person takes to respond is longer than someone who isn't drunk. This can translate to a driver not seeing or adequately avoiding an obstruction in the road, pedestrian, or another car.
- Problems with short-term memory: A person who has been drinking may forget where they are, how they got in the car, or where they were beforehand.
- Lessened hand-to-eye coordination: Alcohol even in small amounts affects a person's ability to coordinate movements between their hands or feet and other parts of the body. While driving, this impairment affects all of the actions needed to operate a motor vehicle, like steering the car, pressing the accelerator pedal, brake pedal, changing gears and using the clutch on a car with a manual transmission, and completing actions in the usual way. For example, a drunk driver may not be able to press the brake pedal to stop the car or remember to put the car in park.
- Difficulty concentrating: Operating any type of vehicle requires great focus and alertness to surroundings like other vehicles and traffic lights. Someone who has consumed alcohol can become easily distracted or even oblivious to the task at hand, which is driving the car. Even if the person tries to concentrate, their intoxication prevents them from being able to. With shifted or no focus on driving, a car could crash into other vehicles or surroundings.
- Problems with depth and distance perception: While driving, you must know when you should brake or your distance from a stop sign or traffic light. A drunk driver may have problems judging the proximity of other cars, stoplights, pedestrians, or obstacles. Because of this and their lessened response times, they cause crashes.
4. Who is responsible for an accident when someone drives drunk?
Whether a person receives a traffic citation at the time of the accident or not, the person driving drunk is responsible for an accident. The intoxicated party not only decided to consume alcohol but also to get behind the wheel of a car.
Unlike some other states, Florida does not have what is called a “dram shop” provision in the law, which could potentially hold the establishment that served the drunk driver responsible for any accident or damages as a result.
That means that under Florida Code 768.125, “A person who sells or furnishes alcoholic beverages to a person of lawful drinking age shall not thereby become liable for injury or damage…”
5. What if the accident involves a commercial driver or employee driving a business vehicle or work truck?
When a drunk person gets into an accident while working, the situation changes. For example, if someone is making deliveries as part of their job function and is using a work truck, but then gets into a crash because they were drinking, that person's employer may also be responsible for the damages and result of the accident.
However, a lawyer who is well versed in these situations of drunk driving accidents in North Miami Beach can help to evaluate questions about liability.
6. How is compensation for a drunk driving accident in North Miami Beach determined?
Multiple factors come into play for drunk driving accidents. While the type and extent of injuries play a large role in calculating the amount of compensation someone might expect to receive, other considerations include:
Your Doctor and Hospital Bills - Any person taken to a hospital after a crash will have related medical bills. If your injuries are severe and require a lengthy hospital stay, those bills increase exponentially. After you're released from the hospital, there are also follow-up visits to primary care doctors or specialists. If you need any subsequent surgeries or procedures, those are also incredibly costly.
Your Lost Wages - When an injury sends you to the hospital, you can't work. Some injuries can require longer hospital stays or even staying in a rehabilitation facility after you leave the hospital. During those days, weeks, or even months, you lose wages that you would otherwise have been earning.
If your injury makes you permanently unable to complete your job functions, that is also a factor in determining compensation. Being unable to work means not being able to provide income to sustain you and your family if others are dependent upon your pay.
Your Pain and Suffering - One of the most complex considerations after an accident injury is your pain and discomfort in everyday life. Things that you enjoyed before your injury may be difficult or impossible to complete. This can include activities like playing tennis or acts as simple as walking unassisted down the stairs or around the house.
There are other aspects of pain and suffering that include loss of consortium between a spouse. In addition, if you suffer from emotional or mental anguish as a result of your accident, your mental outlook and quality of life are affected. A lawyer experienced in personal injury can assist in making these kinds of calculations.
Your And The Other Party's Amount of Car Insurance Coverage - Another aspect of calculating compensation for a drunk driving accident in Florida is your and the other driver's auto insurance. Drivers in Florida must meet minimum car insurance requirements to register a vehicle.
Some of the requirements are as follows:
- A minimum of $10,000 in personal injury protection
- A minimum of $10,000 in Property Damage Liability
In addition, a vehicle that is a taxicab or a person who uses their vehicle for commercial driving is required to have higher amounts of these coverages. The amount of insurance determines the total amount of medical bills that the insurance company will cover, thus impacting the number of bills that you're responsible for.
7. What actions should I take after a crash with a drunk driver?
While every accident is different, in general, try to remain calm if you're in an accident.
After that, here is what you can also do:
- Check yourself for injuries and seek medical attention.
- Try to document your feelings and injuries as much as possible and as soon after the accident as possible.
- If you are well enough to, take photos of yourself, the surrounding area of the crash, and the vehicles.
- Get the other person's contact information as well as the information of any witnesses to the crash.
- Contact our drunk driving accident lawyers, as it is never too soon to seek advice for your situation.
- Contact your car insurance company to file a claim.
8. How long do I have to file a claim for compensation for an accident in Florida?
According to Florida Statutes 95.11, you have four years from the date of the accident to file a claim. Because the paperwork and claims process can be lengthy, it is a good idea to contact your attorney to get started with your claim as soon as possible.
In the case that a family member or loved one dies as a result of an accident, you have only two years to file a claim in Florida. While some situations may delay when the clock starts running for filing paperwork, keep the above guidelines in mind and call our drunk driving accident lawyers today.
9. What are common injuries as a result of a crash with a drunk driver?
The severity of your injuries depends on the type of car you were in, the type of car the other person drove, and if you were a pedestrian or in a car.
Generally speaking, though, injuries from a car crash include:
- Head Injuries: This included concussions, skull fractures, and traumatic brain injuries (TBIs).
- Back and Spinal Cord Injuries: Some back injuries damage discs and nerves, causing loss of body control, partial paralysis, or complete paralysis.
- Whiplash: This is considered a neck injury and occurs when your head moves suddenly back and forward due to the force of a crash.
- Broken Bones: The site and number of broken bones depend on the impact and severity of the accident.
- Organ Damage: This results from the trauma associated with the wreck, punctures or lacerations to organs, or internal injuries or damage that shows up later at the hospital following an accident.
- Internal Bleeding: This can be at the time of the accident or as a result of other injuries.
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: If you experience a crash with a drunk driver, you may deal with that trauma in different ways thereafter. Certain activities like driving a car or hearing a car horn may trigger debilitating sensations and emotions as though you are reliving the crash.
10. What can a lawyer help me with after an accident hurts me?
The short answer is a lot of things. Attorneys' jobs center around understanding and applying Florida law to various situations. Don't feel tempted to pursue legal action on your own behalf. Meet with our drunk driving accident lawyers because they can evaluate your situation and determine if you have a case.
What's more, you must consider multiple facets of your accident claim. When you try to regain your health and well-being or recover from the unfortunate death of a loved one after an accident, a lawyer can alleviate many burdens and stresses.
Lawyers can also negotiate your case to get the highest level of compensation that you may deserve, especially while navigating Florida's complex laws.
Call a North Miami, FL Drunk Driving Accident Attorney Today
Drunk drivers cause many accidents in Florida every year and if you are the victim of such an accident you understand how frustrating and difficult this can be. Not only are drunk drivers a hazard to themselves, but they disregard the safety of every other person on the road when they choose to get behind the wheel of a car after having too many drinks.
The aftermath of such an accident can be devastating. An injury can leave you unable to work for an extended period of time, and prolonged hospital stays result in expensive medical bills. Contact the skilled team of car accident attorneys at Dolman Law Group. We have been working with residents of the Northern Miami area for many years and are proud to defend the rights of our clients. We understand how challenging a car accident can be and will help to bring your case to its most positive resolution. Call us today at (305)-676-8154 or contact us online to set up a free initial consultation.
Dolman Law Group
1820 NE 163rd St #306,
North Miami Beach, FL 33162