Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer in Winter Haven, FL
A drunk driving accident can result in severe injuries, a damaged or totaled vehicle, and expenses you never planned for. To make matters more complicated, Florida’s no-fault car accident laws make it difficult (though not impossible) to recover full compensation for your losses. This leaves many victims feeling helpless and frustrated when involved in a crash with a driver who was drunk.
If a drunk driver crashed into you, Brooks Law Group can help. Our team has been assisting people who have been hurt in Florida drunk driving accidents since our founding in 1992. Put our knowledge and experience to work for you. We’ll fight to hold the intoxicated driver fully accountable for all of your injuries and crash-related losses.
Brooks Law Group is a nationally recognized Winter Haven personal injury law firm. We’re proud to have been recognized by the National Trial Lawyers as one of their Top 100 law firms. We also have a strong track record of success for our clients, having helped them collect millions of dollars in compensation for their injuries.
If you were hurt by an intoxicated driver, our Winter Haven drunk driving accident attorneys will be ready to get you answers and justice. Call or contact us today for a free consultation.
Florida Drunk Driving Car Accident Statistics
The most current statistics from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles show that drunk driving is a serious problem in The Sunshine State.
- Statewide, there were 4,984 confirmed crashes in a recent year in which one or more drivers were drunk. These collisions resulted in 378 deaths and 3,064 injuries.
- Of those injured, 425 people were deemed to have “incapacitating injuries,” which the report defined as injuries that would likely require hospitalization (e.g., broken bones, traumatic brain injury, etc.)
- Across Florida, 420 confirmed crashes involved one or more drivers who had been abusing both alcohol and drugs. These accidents resulted in 342 deaths and 318 injuries. Approximately 120 injuries were incapacitating.
- In Polk County, there were 148 alcohol-related crashes, 24 drug-related crashes, and 17 crashes where both alcohol and drugs were a factor. Together, these crashes resulted in 44 deaths and 117 injuries.
Driving Under the Influence Laws in Florida
Driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious crime in Florida. Here are a few of the key DUI laws you should be aware of:
- People driving a vehicle with a BAC (blood alcohol concentration) of 0.08 or higher are automatically guilty of DUI “per se,” as 0.08 is the legal limit for driving. However, you can still be found guilty of DUI if you are found to be driving in an unsafe manner after consuming alcohol, even if you are below the legal limit.
- The legal limit for drivers under age 21 is 0.02 percent. A first offense will result in a six-month suspension of your driver’s license, while a second offense will result in a one-year suspension. If an underage driver is found with a BAC of 0.05 or higher, they will have to enroll in a DUI education program before their license can be reinstated.
- There are steep penalties for driving under the influence in Florida. They include:
- First offense: Misdemeanor. Up to six months in jail, a fine between $500 and $1,000, and the loss of your license for 180 days to a year. You may also need to have an ignition interlock device installed on your car for up to six months. Drunk drivers with a BAC of 0.15 or higher could receive up to nine months in jail and be fined between $1,000 and $2,000.
- Second offense: Misdemeanor. Up to nine months in jail, a fine between $1,000 and $2,000, and the loss of your license for 180 days to a year. You could have an ignition interlock device installed on your car for up to two years. Second offenses that occur within five years of a first offense require a minimum of 10 days in jail, your license to be revoked for five years, and your vehicle to be impounded for 30 days. Drunk drivers with a BAC of 0.15 or higher could face up to 12 months in jail and a fine between $2,000 and $4,000.
- Third offense: Generally a misdemeanor, but could be a felony if a third offense occurs within ten years of a prior DUI conviction. Up to twelve months in jail, a fine between $2,000 and $5,000, and the loss of your license for 180 days to a year. You could have an ignition interlock device installed on your car for up to two years. A felony DUI conviction requires 30 days to five years in jail, your vehicle to be impounded for 90 days, and your driver’s license to be revoked for ten years. Offenders with a BAC of 0.15 or higher will face a fine of at least $4,000.
- Additional offenses: A fourth or subsequent DUI is a felony regardless of when any prior DUI convictions occurred. You will face steep fines, substantial jail time, and the revocation of your driver’s license for ten years or longer.
- Any DUI that results in serious bodily injury or death is automatically a felony.
- All DUI convictions require the offender to enroll in a substance abuse course. The judge may also order additional monitoring. Failing to comply with these conditions can result in a probation violation and additional penalties.
- Florida drivers are required to submit to chemical tests of their blood, breath, or urine as a condition of holding a driver’s license. Refusing to comply with a test can result in automatic revocation of your license for one year, and your refusal can be used as evidence of your guilt in court.
People who are charged with DUI face civil penalties as well. Florida personal injury laws allow people who are seriously harmed in drunk driving accidents to seek compensation for their losses through claims with their own insurance company or, in certain circumstances, a third-party claim. A lawyer from Brooks Law Group can help with your civil claim for compensation.
Common Injuries From Drunk Driving Accidents
Some of the most common injuries that occur in drunk driving accidents include:
- Deep cuts and bruises
- Broken bones
- Internal injuries, such as damage to internal organs, muscles, ligaments, and tendons
- Neck and back injuries
- Spinal cord damage
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Torso injuries
- Facial injuries
What To Do If I Have Been Hit by a Drunk Driver?
Your first priority after being hit by a drunk driver is to get immediate medical treatment, even if you feel fine. Once you’ve done that, here are your next steps:
- Save all of your medical records and receipts, as well as any statements showing any wages or other income you missed while you were recovering from the accident.
- Request a copy of your police accident report so you can use it as evidence that the other driver was at fault.
- Follow your doctor’s treatment regimen carefully, exactly as they explained it to you.
- Don’t make any public statements about the accident, especially on social media.
- Don’t give any statement to the other driver, their lawyer, or their insurance company without talking to an attorney first.
- Hire a Florida drunk driving accident attorney.
Proving Liability for a Winter Haven Drunk Driving Car Crash
Liability is a critical issue in any Winter Haven drunk driving accident claim. To get compensation from the drunk driver, you will first have to go through Florida’s no-fault insurance system to get benefits under your own Personal Injury Protection (PIP) plan. Once you’ve done that, you can try to claim compensation from the drunk driver if you’ve sustained a “serious injury.”
State law defines a serious injury as one that causes significant disfigurement, bone fractures, an injury that causes permanent limitation of the use of a body organ or member, injuries that cause significant limitation of use of a body function or system, or injuries that cause you to be substantially or fully disabled for 90 days.
If your injuries meet the serious injury threshold, you can go after the other driver for additional compensation not covered by your PIP benefits. However, you will still have to prove the other driver was at fault. Some evidence that can be used to establish fault includes:
- Police crash reports
- Medical records
- Witness testimony
- Photos or video from the scene of the crash
- Footage from traffic or surveillance cameras
How Our Drunk Driving Accident Lawyers in Winter Haven Can Help
After being hurt in a drunk driving wreck, the last thing you need to be doing is wrestling with your insurance company and contemplating filing a third-party claim against the at-fault driver. An experienced drunk driving accident attorney in Winter Haven at Brooks Law Group can ease your burdens.
While you heal and take care of your other personal needs, our legal team can start gathering evidence to build your case. We can use your medical records and other proof to show that your injuries meet the Florida serious injury threshold required to file a personal injury claim.
Once that’s done, we’ll open settlement negotiations with the other driver and their insurance company. As those negotiations proceed, we’ll also be preparing your case for court, so we’re ready if a lawsuit is necessary to get you the money you need.
Our team is prepared to help you get the compensation you deserve after a drunk driving accident. Learn more by calling our Winter Haven office today or by visiting our contact page to get a free case review.