DUI Injury Victim Lawyer
In Palm Bay, Florida
Couture Law fights for car accident victims hurt by drunk drivers
Drunk driving can potentially carry civil and criminal consequences. Not only does intoxicated driving pose a danger to others on the road, but drunk driving accidents can also dramatically affect victims and their families. People who have been injured in a drunk driving accident may file an insurance claim and a civil claim to receive compensation for their injuries.
Drunk driving accident injuries
Drunk driving accident victims may have minor or severe injuries, depending on the nature of the accident. Common injuries include:
- general soreness
- broken bones
- neck and back injuries
PIP insurance in Florida drunk driving accidents
Florida drivers are legally required to carry a minimum of $10,000 in Property Damage Liability (PDL) and Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance coverage. Following a drunk driving accident, the injured party must first file a claim under his or her own PIP policy. In addition to covering the driver, PIP policies also cover passengers in the policyholder’s vehicle at the time of the accident.
Limits to PIP insurance coverage
People who are more severely injured in a drunk driving accident are likely to find that their PIP policy does not cover all of their expenses. Personal injury policies cover the following:
- 80 percent of medical expenses
- 60 percent of lost wages
- $5,000 in death benefits if the accident causes death
PIP insurance only provides coverage up to the policy limit. Drunk driving accident victims who exceed their PIP policy limits have other options through which they may seek compensation.
Bodily injury liability coverage claims
Another avenue through which drunk driving accident victims may receive compensation is filing a claim with the drunk driver’s insurance company. If the drunk driver has Bodily Injury Liability (BIL) coverage, his or her insurance company may offer compensation for the other party’s bodily injuries. The insurance company’s objective is often to pay as little as they can for a claim, depending on the nature of the accident. Therefore, accident victims should not trust the other party’s insurance company to totally prioritize the victim’s needs. Accident victims should also be aware that Florida does not require drivers to carry BIL coverage. Therefore, the best option for the injured party may be to file a claim directly against all parties who may be legally liable for the accident.
Third-party liability in Florida civil DUI cases
In some DUI cases, there may be one or more liable parties in addition to the drunk driver. Florida’s dram shop law recognizes that businesses and individuals who serve alcohol to drunk drivers may be liable for car accident injuries the driver causes. Florida’s law is not as strict as dram shop laws in other states. The law does permit drunk driving accident victims to file a claim against anyone who knowingly served an underage driver alcohol if the driver was under 21 at the time of the accident. The injured party may also file a claim against a third party if the third party served alcohol to the driver knowing he or she suffers from alcoholism.
Damages in drunk driving cases
Defendants in civil drunk driving cases may end up paying compensatory damages and punitive damages. Compensatory damages are intended to cover the injured party’s related expenses as well as emotional damages the accident victim may incur. In fatal drunk driving accidents, the victim’s family may recover damages for the loss of their loved one. Liable parties in drunk driving cases may also be required to pay punitive damages as a legal measure to “punish” the drunk driver and to discourage others from driving while intoxicated.
Compensatory damages for Palm Bay drunk driving accident victims
Drunk driving accident victims commonly have medical expenses. From the initial medical checkup after the accident to short-term and long-term treatment, medications, supplies, and physical therapy, the expenses can add up quickly. Injured parties who have severe injuries like paralysis, nerve damage, a brain injury, or a spinal cord injury may have to make dramatic modifications to their lifestyle. They may require equipment like an adjustable bed or a wheelchair to support their recovery or help with mobility. Accident victims who require assistance in their everyday home lives may also need to hire a health aid who makes home visits. If the injured party experiences mental or emotional pain and suffering due to his or her injury, the court may award emotional damages. Medical expenses and emotional damages are all classified as compensatory damages. If a drunk driving accident causes the injured party’s death, courts will also award funeral expenses and, in some cases, compensation for loss of consortium, loss of companionship, or loss of parental guidance. These types of damages are also classified as compensatory damages.
Punitive damages in DUI wrecks
Courts have the discretion to award punitive damages when a defendant behaves in a manner that is grossly harmful. Florida law requires the plaintiff to request permission from the court to seek punitive damages before going to trial. Plaintiffs who are permitted by the court to seek punitive damages must also establish:
- The defendant’s act of driving while drunk was flagrantly showed reckless disregard for human life
- The act of drunk driving showed a complete lack of care and conscious indifference to the consequences
- The act of drunk driving showed an entire lack of care and exhibited reckless or wanton disregard for public welfare
Contacting a DUI accident attorney
DUI accident cases are often very complicated due to the multiple moving parts. Florida personal injury lawyers help drunk driving accident victims and their families navigate the insurance process, pre-trial settlement negotiations, and, if necessary, filing a civil action in court. An accident attorney can identify all parties who may be liable for the victim’s injury and follow the necessary procedure to seek compensation. Our drunk driving accident attorney can help you determine whether you or your family member may be eligible to receive compensation following a drunk driving accident. We will focus on the legal process while you and your family focus on healing.