Drunk driving is a serious, selfish act that violates criminal laws and puts countless strangers and innocent people at risk of a serious injury or even death. Being hurt or losing a loved one in a drunk driving accident is absolutely devastating, and the frustration of knowing that the accident could have been avoided if the other driver had followed the law is extremely difficult to deal with.
While there is no amount of money that can undo the pain, suffering, and trauma of being involved in a drunk driving accident, there are ways that a victim can recover compensation for the many measurable impacts that they must deal with in the aftermath. Typically, this is done by filing an insurance claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance company,
Contact Lewis & Castagliola, P.A. For a Free Consultation Today
Lewis & Castagliola, P.A. offers a free initial consultation and case evaluation for victims of drunk driving accidents. During this consultation, we will be able to discuss your accident in great detail, including the type of collision, where it took place, what the drunk driver was cited for, and more. In addition, we will help you understand the benefits of working with an experienced personal injury attorney who can help build a strong case and approach settlement negotiations aggressively.
Get the Money You Deserve After Being Hurt By a Drunk Driver
Often, people are shocked when they receive an initial offer from the insurance company that is far lower than what they expected — especially when the accident is so clearly caused by the other driver in a situation such as this. Unfortunately, “fault” and “compensation” are two very different aspects of a personal injury case, and clear fault has little bearing on the total damages a victim is owed. This is why it is so important to hire an experienced drunk driving accident attorney who can manage every step of your personal injury case.
Once an insurance company concludes their claims investigation, they will present you an offer for a one-time payment; in exchange, you will be required to waive your right to any future legal action against the insurer or drive in regards to this case, regardless of whether or not new information arises or you discover additional damages that you are owed. Instead of accepting this offer, your attorney will present their own findings and make a counter-offer intended to compensate you adequately without needing to go to the Florida courts. This is often the start of an ongoing negotiation intended to close the gap between the two figures while fairly compensating you for the many damages you have suffered.
In the event that your attorney is unable to reach a settlement agreement that you believe to be fair, the next step will be to file a motion in a Florida civil court initiating the lawsuit process. However, filing a lawsuit still does not mean that you will go to trial; in fact, less than 5% of all personal injury claims ever see trial, and roughly 50% of all lawsuits are settled before trial.
Dangers of Drunk Driving
As you already know, drunk driving is a dangerous decision that can put everyone else at risk on the road. The following are just a few of the many ways that drunk driving impairs a driver and may have led to the accident that you were involved in.
Slower Response Time
Alcohol affects how quickly someone reacts when faced with many situations. This may be obvious when the car ahead suddenly brakes, and they are just a second too slow in responding and crash against it. And if they end up hitting a pedestrian that crossed the street in front of them, there is a likelihood that they face criminal charges.
Slower Hand/Eye Coordination
Instant coordination between what a drunk driver’s eyes see and how their hands react is a must for safe driving. An officer can have a driver walk a straight line and clearly see they are swaying.
Driving requires undivided attention. There are many different stimuli on the road, and a driver needs to react properly to all of them. This means being able to stay in their lane, controlling their speed, obeying traffic and road signs, and looking out for other drivers and pedestrians. Alcohol will immediately reduce a driver’s attention span.
A driver needs to be sharp and aware in order to know how to react to things happening around you. If a car cuts them off and it takes them even a second too long to react, the consequence will be a crash that could have been avoided.
Blurred vision and an inability to correctly control your eye movements are definite negative when driving. You may be unable to judge the distance between your car and those around you and miss an object that you would have easily spotted while sober.
Damages Recoverable and The Claims Process
In most accidents where a driver is cited for DUI, the issue of fault is pretty straightforward. This leaves the question of damages: how much compensation are you entitled to for the many measurable impacts of this accident? Compensatory damages are divided into two parts: economic damages and non-economic damages. Economic damages apply to any impact or loss a victim experiences that have a measurable dollar value, such as medical bills, lost wages, or services you needed to pay for that you would have performed on your own if not for your injuries. Non-economic damages are the impacts of an accident that do not have dollar values, things like the pain and suffering of your injuries, the trauma of the accident, and many more. An experienced personal injury attorney will be able to quantify and calculate each of your damages to ensure that they are clearly presented during settlement negotiations.
There are also damages known as “punitive damages” that are separate from a personal injury claim, in that these damages are not intended to compensate the victim for losses but to punish the at-fault party in the claim. As such, a victim is not allowed to request these damages, whether during out-of-court settlement negotiations or during a lawsuit. A judge or jury may determine to award these additional damages at the end of a trial in order to discourage the defendant from engaging in such reckless or dangerous behavior again.
In order to be sure that you get all of the damages you are owed, contact our St. Petersburg law firm as soon as possible to partner with an experienced, proven, aggressive attorney who is ready to fight for your rights.
Common Types of Drunk Driving Accidents in St. Petersburg, FL
Call 727-343-3477 now to speak to a DUI accident attorney if you have been involved in any of the following types of DUI accidents.
Rear-end accidents happen when one vehicle is struck in the back by another vehicle, usually because the rear vehicle was tailgating the front vehicle. It can also happen if the front vehicle suddenly cut off another vehicle so closely that the other vehicle didn’t have time or space to brake.
A drunk driver is not able to judge distance with the same accuracy as they would if sober. Their motor skills and reaction time are also impaired when they are intoxicated, making them slower to react when a driver slows down or stops quickly in front of them. A drunk driver may believe that they can slow down when they can’t or may drift into a lane in front of another driver.
Head-on collisions are a type of DUI accident caused by the front of one vehicle crashing into the front of another vehicle. Alcohol makes people drowsy, so when a driver is drunk behind the wheel, they may fall asleep and veer into oncoming traffic, and cause a car accident. Additionally, alcohol impairs a person’s vision and ability to read traffic signs and signals. A drunk driver could turn the wrong way on a road or on a one-way street and not even realize it because they were not reading the traffic signs correctly.
This is a common type of DUI accident because alcohol impairs a driver’s vision, especially at night, making them much more likely to strike a pedestrian even if the pedestrian is crossing legally at a crosswalk.
Drunk Driving Accident Injuries in St. Petersburg, FL
A DUI accident can cause myriad catastrophic injuries:
- Head and neck injuries: Traumatic brain injuries, a fractured skull, whiplash, coma, brain bleeding, and facial disfigurement
- Back and spine injuries: Temporary or permanent paralysis, ruptured or slipped discs, fractured vertebrae, and torn https://lcpalaw.com/wrongful-death/muscles and ligaments
- Broken or crushed bones: The impact of the accident can fracture bones, requiring surgery, long-term physical therapy, and pain management. The victim may also need their arm, leg, or another body part amputated.
- Organ damage: The most common internal organs injured in a DUI accident are the kidneys, lungs, and spleen. Internal bleeding can be life-threatening and requires emergency medical care.
- Burns: Friction burns can happen when exposed skin rubs against a seatbelt, if you hit the pavement, if you come in contact with dangerous chemicals that leak during the accident, or when the airbag was deployed.
Who Can Be Held Responsible for a Drunk Driving Accident in St. Petersburg, FL?
The drunk driver was the one who decided to get into their motor vehicle after consuming alcohol, so they would bear most of the responsibility for the DUI accident. However, in some cases, the injured driver can file a claim against a third-party for damages that resulted from the DUI accident. Your DUI accident attorney can investigate your claim to see if others can also be held liable for your accident:
- Florida’s Dram Shop Law: According to Florida Statutes Section 768.125, a bar, restaurant, or other establishment that serves alcohol can be responsible for a DUI accident if the customer leaves the establishment and drives drunk.
- Their employer: If an employee drinks during working hours and causes a car accident, the employer could be held responsible for their employees’ behavior during the course of their employment.
- Negligent entrustment: A car owner may be held liable for damages resulting from a DUI accident if they loaned their car to the drunk driver
- The social hosts: A host of a private party or social gathering can be held responsible for serving too much alcohol to their guest who leaves while drunk and causes a car accident.