Driving under the influence (DUI) involves driving after using mind-altering substances including alcohol, drugs, and controlled substances. Drivers who have a blood alcohol content of .08 or greater are considered to be drunk drivers and legally impaired under Florida law. These drivers, as well as drivers who fail a field sobriety test, regardless of their BAC, may be arrested. Although the number of car accidents due to drunk driving has decreased over the past years, alcohol-related accidents still occur quite frequently. These accidents can result in injuries and fatalities to innocent drivers involved in the crash.
Victims of Drunk Driving
In Florida, if you or a loved one are injured as a result of a DUI car accident, you are considered a victim of a criminal act. Drunk driving is a criminal offense in Florida, so victims are entitled to additional compensation for their injuries under Florida’s Crimes Compensation Act. This Florida statute protects those injured by a criminal, including injuries resulting from physical abuse, motor vehicle accidents, or other misdemeanors or felonies. There are a few different criteria that victims must meet in order to qualify for compensation under the Crimes Compensation Act. These requirements include:
● The crime must be reported to law enforcement within 72 hours.
● The victim must have an injury resulting from the crime.
● The victim must apply for the Crimes Compensation Act within one year of the crime.
● The victim must fully cooperate with authorities including law enforcement and attorneys.
● The victim must not have contributed to the crime or participated in unlawful activity at the time of the crime.
● The victim must be free of a past record of a felony.
In this case, the crime is a drunk driving accident and the victim is the innocent person or people who suffered injuries as a result of the accident. Injuries from a motor vehicle accident can range from mild and temporary to permanent and severe. These injuries include:
● Lacerations, cuts, bruises, and burns
● Broken bones
● Lost limbs
● Concussions or traumatic brain injuries
● Spinal cord injuries
● Internal injuries
The injuries from a car accident can leave the victim in financial and emotional distress and may even leave permanent damage following the accident.
In some states, victims of drunk driving accidents can sue the bar or establishment that served the alcohol to the drunk driver. However, in Florida, restaurants and bars are protected from being held responsible for a drunk driving accident unless they sold alcohol to a person under 21 or to a known alcoholic. Under this law, parents or owners of a house where alcohol is consumed by minors under 21 can be held responsible and even criminally charged if the minor leaves the house and gets in a drunk driving accident.
As an attorney, like a Tampa, Florida auto accident lawyer from a law firm like Jeff Murphy Law knows, once liability is established, you can seek compensation for injuries and damages incurred from the accident including medical expenses, lost income, permanent injuries, and pain and suffering. The amount of compensation you may receive depends on multiple factors including the severity of the injuries, specifics and circumstances relating to the accident, and whether or not you were partly at fault for the accident and injuries. You may be entitled to compensation for the following:
● Medical bills – tests, appointments, and treatment expenses due to the accident.
● Lost wages – income that the injured lost because they were not able to work due to an injury, including future lost wages
● Funeral or burial expenses
● Pain and suffering – mental and emotional stress caused by the accident, including mental health counseling.
● Property damages
If you or a loved one was injured in a drunk driving accident, it is important to contact an experienced attorney to help ensure you get the compensation that you deserve for injuries and suffering resulting from the accident. Jeff Murphy Law has been representing accident victims and their families in Tampa and throughout the country for over 30 years. Call him today for a free consultation.