One of the most dangerous things a driver can do is get behind the wheel after consuming alcohol. Driving under the influence of alcohol impairs a driver’s judgment and ability to react on the road. Unfortunately, too many drivers drink and drive, putting everyone else on the road at risk.
If you or someone you love was injured in an accident with a drunk driver, you deserve to recover compensation for your damages. The drunk driving accident attorneys at Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA is experienced in helping drunk driving accident victims in Miami, Florida secure the recovery they deserve. Contact us today at 833-552-7274 (833-55-CRASH) or through our website for a free consultation.
Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA Delivers Results
Our personal injury lawyers have a clear history of delivering results for our clients after drunk driving accidents, including a $939,000 settlement for a rideshare passenger against a drunk driver’s insurance company after being violently T-boned by the drunk driver, who was driving too fast. These stellar results are supported by the numerous awards and recognitions received by the firm and members of our team.
While each case is unique and specific recovery is never guaranteed, our firm’s prior results make it clear that we have experience with drunk driving cases and focusing on our clients and the results they deserve.
Drunk Driving Accident Statistics
While it may feel like a drunk driving accident will never affect you, one in three people will be involved in a drunk driving crash in their lifetime, and alcohol-impaired drivers get behind the wheel more than 300,000 times every day.
The statistics on drunk driving in the U.S. and Miami, specifically, show how huge an issue drunk driving is. In the United States, a person dies in a drunk driving crash on average every 50 minutes, and these deaths and the resulting damages result in $44 billion in economic losses every year. Every two minutes, someone is injured in a drunk driving crash, and nearly 30 percent of all traffic deaths involve an alcohol-impaired driver. About 17 percent of traffic deaths of children ages zero to 14 involve an alcohol-impaired driver.
In Florida, more than 7,500 people died in crashes involving alcohol-impaired drivers in the last decade, and the drunk driving accident death rate is higher than the national average in Florida for every age group. While 1.7 percent of drivers in the United States self-report sometimes driving after drinking too much, the percentage of self-reports in Florida is 2 percent. At the same time, drunk drivers in Miami are more likely to evade punishment and get back on the road.
The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles reports that the Miami area had the lowest rate of penalizations for criminal traffic violations in the most recent year for which there is data.
Dealing With Miami Drunk Driving Accident Injuries
Drunk driving accidents result in many fatalities, but severe injuries are even more common.
The extent of a particular victim’s injuries depends on the unique facts of every crash, but common injuries include:
- Spinal cord injuries: The spinal cord is the bundle of nerves that allows the brain to communicate with the rest of the body. Spinal cord injuries are one of the most common injuries caused by drunk driving, with approximately 36 percent of spinal cord injuries resulting from a car crash. Spinal cord injury symptoms vary, but can frequently lead to paralysis.
- Traumatic brain injuries: If the accident victim strikes their head or receives a blow to the head during the crash, a traumatic brain injury (TBI) is possible. The symptoms are unique to each victim and depend on the location and severity of the blow. TBI victims often suffer physical or cognitive disabilities. At its most severe, a TBI can result in brain death.
- Head injuries: A TBI isn’t the only type of injury a victim may suffer after a blow to the head. Other types of head injuries include concussions, lacerations, or skull fractures.
- Neck and back injuries: The jarring motion of car accidents makes neck and back injuries common. One of the most common neck injuries in a car accident is whiplash. Neck and back injuries often result in chronic pain and require ongoing physical therapy.
- Internal organ damage: Any blow to the body has the potential to cause internal organ damage including to the heart, lungs, kidney, and liver. These injuries can be difficult to diagnose, with symptoms often showing up days or weeks later. If left untreated, the victim runs to the risk of organ failure and death.
- Burns and road rash: Car accident victims are susceptible to lacerations, burns, and road rash. If the victim’s body comes into contact with any heated element of the vehicle or if the crash causes a fire, the victim can also suffer severe burns. If the victim is thrown from the vehicle or is riding a motorcycle, their skin may scrape across the pavement during the crash, resulting in road rash. These injuries can require plastic surgery or reconstructive surgery.
- Broken bones: At their best, broken bones limit the victim’s mobility and ability to perform day-to-day activities while the break heals. At their worst, they can require surgery and long-term physical therapy.
- Cuts and bruises: These injuries are easy to overlook, but they can still limit a victim’s ability to live their regular life and can cause severe pain after an accident.
No matter what kinds of injuries you suffered, it is important that the drunk driver is held responsible for their actions.
Building Your Case Against a Miami Drunk Driver
While it might seem obvious that a drunk driver is responsible for the accident and your injuries, you will still need to build a case showing they were legally at fault. One of the clearest indicators of fault is violating the state’s drunk driving laws.
In Florida, it is illegal to:
- Drive under the influence of alcoholic beverages when affected to the extent that the person’s normal faculties are impaired; or to
- Drive with a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) at or above 0.08 percent
Being convicted of drunk driving comes with criminal punishments that may include fines, driver’s license revocation, and/or imprisonment. The state will criminally prosecute the drunk driver. You and your attorney will be responsible for building a separate case to seek civil recovery for your injuries based on the driver’s intentional or negligent actions.
If the driver’s BAC was at or above 0.08 percent, this provides strong evidence of negligence. The case is more complicated if there was no documented BAC or if the driver’s BAC was below 0.08 percent. This doesn’t mean, however, that you have no case. You will need to work with your lawyer to gather evidence that the driver consumed alcohol and that it impaired their normal faculties.
Evidence of impairment might include:
- A police report or witness statement noting erratic driving like weaving or swerving;
- Any field sobriety tests the driver failed;
- Any evidence that the driver had an elevated BAC, even if it was below 0.08 percent;
- If the driver had an obvious odor of alcohol at the time of the accident;
- If the driver had slurred speech after the accident; and
- Any other evidence that the driver was intoxicated.
If at all possible, make sure to secure a police report as soon as possible after the accident. This will ensure you have solid documentation of any evidence that the responsible driver was under the influence of alcohol at the time of the accident.
One thing that can add another wrinkle of complexity to your case is if the drunk driver was acting in the course of their duties as an employee at the time of the accident. If this is the case, the employer might also be responsible for the driver’s actions, which can be beneficial because you may recover from a larger company insurance policy.
If the driver was a rideshare driver, they are generally not considered an employee, and instead are an independent contractor, but you still might recover through the rideshare company’s insurance policy. Your lawyer can help you analyze whether any of these scenarios apply to your accident and who to go after for recovery.
Securing Recovery for Your Miami Drunk Driving Accident Injuries
Once you have compiled evidence and built your case against the drunk driver, you will need to work with your lawyer to assess your damages. The effects of a drunk driving accident often extend far beyond medical expenses, although those expenses will likely be an important component of your damages demand.
While every case is different, a car accident damages claim may include:
- Medical expenses: Medical bills are likely to rack up as you deal with your injuries, including doctor’s bills, costs for surgical procedures, hospital stays, emergency transportation, and prescription medication. The defendant may be responsible for these costs as well as future medical expenses like physical therapy or in-home care.
- Lost income: If your injuries force you to miss work or work a reduced schedule, you deserve to be compensated for your lost wages. Many injuries result in long-term limitations, so be sure to include an estimate of future lost earnings and lost future earning potential, if applicable.
- Property damage: If your vehicle or any other property was damaged in the accident, you can seek compensation for repair or replacement.
- Emotional distress: It is all too common for car accident victims to suffer from emotional distress after a car accident, including anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. The symptoms and presentation of emotional distress are unique to each victim. A lawyer can help you figure out how to account for emotional distress in your damages claim.
- Loss of enjoyment: Most people engage in specific activities that bring meaning and joy to their lives. Unfortunately, injuries all too frequently limit a car accident victim’s ability to participate in their preferred activities moving forward. If you can no longer pursue an activity that was a meaningful part of your life, work with your attorney to include appropriate compensation in your damages demand.
- Punitive damages: Punitive damages are intended to punish the defendant for egregious behavior rather than to compensate the victim for their injuries. In Florida, punitive damages are only awarded when the defendant acted with intentional misconduct or gross negligence. Work with your lawyer to understand if the facts of your case justify seeking punitive damages.
Calculating some types of damages might require input from an expert, such as a medical expert’s input on future medical costs or an economist’s input on lost future earning potential. Prepare a comprehensive damages assessment as it will be an important tool in your case. If your case goes to trial, the jury will use the damages demand as a basis for awarding recovery.
It is much more common for cases to settle rather than to proceed to trial. Your damages assessment will allow you and your attorney to analyze any settlement offer against your total damages and the strength of your case. It is unlikely the first settlement offer will appropriately compensate you for your damages. Be sure to discuss any settlement offer with your lawyer before you sign anything.
Establishing fault and preparing a damages assessment can take quite a bit of time, especially as you also manage your injuries. Victims of a drunk driving accident only have four years to bring a lawsuit against the defendant. While this might seem like a long time, it can quickly pass. Be sure not to miss your opportunity to secure the recovery you deserve.
Reach out to an Experienced Miami Drunk Driving Accident Attorney Today
The team at Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA is committed to personal service and accessibility, with a reputation for zealous advocacy on behalf of our injured clients. We understand that communication is key between personal injury lawyer and client, and each client of our firm gets the personal cell phone number and email of the attorney handling their case. We are committed to offering our clients uncompromising and personal service and we maintain a well-known reputation in the insurance industry.
One of the best steps you can take in securing recovery after a drunk driving accident in Miami, Florida is to contact Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers today. We are committed to maximizing each client’s recovery. Contact the firm at 833-552-7274 (833-55-CRASH) or through our website to schedule a free consultation. We do not charge our clients any fees unless we secure a financial recovery on their behalf.
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