With the simple turn of the ignition, a vehicle operated by an intoxicated driver can become as lethal as a loaded gun. Drunk driving is a negligent act, plain and simple.
When a drunk driver causes a serious accident, injured victims often face significant challenges. They might have to deal with
- long-term injuries
- extensive medical treatment
- and financial consequences that could send them spiraling into debt.
Fortunately, Florida law gives drunk driving accident victims a way to pursue compensation for their losses.
If you’ve sustained injuries due to a drunk driver in Tampa, the accomplished lawyers at Brooks Law Group will help you hold them accountable for their recklessness. Since 1992, our attorneys have provided thorough, comprehensive legal services to injured people throughout Central Florida.
Drunk Driving Car Accident Statistics in Florida
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), drunk driving accidents kill 30 people in the United States per day. Another recent report states that drivers with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or higher who were involved in a fatal crash were approximately four times more likely to have prior convictions for driving under impairment than those who were not drunk.
The report also found that out of the 1,147 children under age 14 killed in all motor vehicle traffic accidents in a recent year, 220 were killed in drunk driving crashes. In other words, about 19 percent of all traffic accident child fatalities happen due to drunk drivers.
Statistics also showed that 26 percent of total traffic fatalities in Florida happen in the context of alcohol. With 814 deaths, Florida has the third-highest number of alcohol-related fatalities in the nation, behind only Texas and California.
Driving Under the Influence (DUI) Laws in Tampa
Florida has very little tolerance when it comes to drunk driving. Like all other states in the nation, the legal BAC limit is 0.08. Drivers with higher BACs will face arrest. This applies even if the vehicle was not running at the time of the arrest.
A DUI conviction in Florida will stay on the driver’s record for 75 years. In addition, first-time offenders can face fines of up to $2,000 and six months in jail. The jail time may increase to nine months when other factors are present, such as a BAC level of 0.15 or more or having a passenger who is underage.
In addition to the increased jail time, the driver usually will have to do community service, and they can lose their license for up to a year.
Although 0.08 percent is the legal limit, a driver can still face arrest even if their BAC is below that limit. This might be the case if the driver is:
- Showing signs of impairment: A driver may indicate impairment by their actions, such as swerving on the road or by their inability to pass the field sobriety test.
- Underage: Having a BAC of 0.02 or more is prohibited for anyone under the legal drinking age of 21.
- A commercial driver: Truck and other commercial drivers are held to a higher standard than other motorists. Their BAC limit is half the legal limit for non-commercial drivers, at 0.04.
Florida is also one of the few states that can hold a third party liable for losses due to alcohol-related accidents. Florida’s dram shop law allows a person or a vendor to be held liable for negligence if it can be shown that they intentionally and knowingly served alcohol to a driver who was under 21 or a known alcoholic.
In order to file a case for compensation due to a drunk driving accident, you have to file the lawsuit within four years of the accident. If the accident is fatal, a wrongful death claim must be filed within two years of the date of death.
Common Injuries from Drunk Driving Accidents
Because of their reduced coordination and reaction time, drunk drivers tend to operate their vehicles erratically and at high speeds. As a result, drunk driving accidents can be extremely destructive and cause serious injuries, including:
- Head trauma
- Neck injuries
- Soft tissue injuries
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Spinal cord injuries
- Broken bones
- Internal injuries
- Crush injuries
- Full or partial paralysis
- Facial injuries and disfigurement
- Deep cuts and lacerations
What to Do If I Have Been Hit by a Drunk Driver in Tampa?
Your first priority after being injured by a drunk driver is to seek medical attention as soon as possible. In order to qualify for no-fault PIP benefits in Florida, you must see a medical provider within 14 days of the accident.
You should also contact a drunk driving accident lawyer as soon as possible so they can start collecting evidence while it’s still available.
There are also steps you can take to protect your health and your right to maximum compensation in the days and weeks after the accident:
- Contact your insurer: You have to promptly report any car accidents to your own insurance company. We advise you to let a lawyer handle this step for you, as the insurer can use anything you say against you.
- Follow through with your medical treatment: Continue to follow your doctor’s orders, and don’t miss any medical appointments. Any gaps in treatment could give the insurance company a reason to deny or minimize your claim.
- Keep detailed records: Collect any and all documentation in connection with the accident, such as police reports, medical records, medical bills, pay stubs, income tax forms, repair estimates, and photos or videos of the crash site.
- Keep a pain journal: Tracking the challenges you face daily as a result of your injuries can help to show the extent of your pain and suffering since the accident.
- Avoid posting on social media: Don’t discuss the details of the accident with anyone other than your attorney. Refrain from posting any pictures or updates about your injuries on social media, and ask friends and family members to do the same.
Proving Liability for a Drunk Driving Traffic Collision in Tampa, FL
Florida is a no-fault insurance state. This means that if you were hit by a drunk driver, your own insurance policy should be able to cover the cost of expenses directly resulting from the accident up to your policy limit.
You may also be able to pursue an injury claim or lawsuit against the at-fault party. This is the case if you suffer injuries that Florida law considers “serious,” such as a bone fracture, significant disfigurement, or a permanent injury.
The types of compensation you may be able to seek if you are hit by a drunk driver include:
- Medical expenses: Any medical costs related to the treatment of your injuries caused by the accident, as well as expected expenses for future medical care.
- Property damage: Any vehicle or other property damage caused by the crash.
- Lost wages: Any lost income resulting from time off from work. Loss of future income can also be a factor if you are disabled from the collision.
- Permanent disfigurement: Any losses that you suffered as a result of permanent scarring and disfigurement.
- Pain and suffering: Any physical, mental, or emotional pain and suffering directly caused by the accident.
In order to pursue a drunk driving injury claim or lawsuit in Tampa, you must prove that the other party is liable for your injuries. To do so, you have to prove that the drunk driver was negligent while operating the vehicle that caused the accident.
If a driver is found to have exceeded the BAC limit of 0.08, negligence will be assumed under the state’s negligence per se doctrine. In order to establish that, a blood test is necessary to show the driver’s blood alcohol content. Additionally, the following types of evidence may be gathered to help prove liability:
- Medical reports
- Police reports
- Witness statements
- Expert testimony
- Photos of the accident scene
- Video footage that may have captured what led up to the accident
How Our Drunk Driving Accident Lawyers in Tampa Can Help
Injuries due to a drunk driver’s fault are difficult enough without having to worry about whether you will get full and fair compensation for your losses. You need a highly skilled drunk driving accident attorney to represent you. You need Brooks Law Group.
Our lawyers will focus on getting you the results you deserve. We will:
- Investigate your accident thoroughly
- Collect all necessary evidence to build a solid claim for maximum compensation
- Handle all negotiations with the other party or parties involved
- Represent you aggressively in court when necessary
Call or contact Brooks Law Group now for a free consultation.