In all fifty states, it’s against the law to drive while intoxicated due to excessive amounts of alcohol or drugs. When someone who is drunk or high gets behind the wheel of a car, they are committing a serious crime that can result in injury or death to passengers and pedestrians, as well as cause substantial property damage. As such, if you’ve suffered injuries or lost a loved one due to the recklessness of a drunk driver, it’s very likely that you are entitled to compensation under Florida law.
Are you eligible for a DUI-related personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit?
According to the U.S. Department of Highway Safety, over 3,200 people died in Florida as a consequence of encountering drunk drivers. When death or serious injuries occur as the result of an accident involving an intoxicated driver, victims should consider filing a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit to recover damages for physical and mental suffering.
Similar to other states, Florida’s drunk driving laws also incorporate the “dram shop law” which determines whether the owner of a liquor establishment exercised bad judgment by serving alcohol to an individual who ultimately caused an automobile accident. To prove that the owner of the establishment is liable, your attorney will need to prove one of the following scenarios:
- The establishment or one of its employees served alcohol to a minor, resulting in a car accident.
- The establishment or one of its employees served alcohol to a patron who is known to be an alcoholic or a habitual abuser of alcohol.
In order to win a DUI-related personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit, you will need to consult with an attorney – preferably one with experience winning these types of cases. In addition, you’ll want to ensure your attorney has the ability to gather the evidence necessary to successfully argue your case in court and ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.
Are you entitled to punitive damages?
When plaintiffs are awarded punitive damages in a drunk driving case, this indicates that the court thought the conduct of the defendant warranted additional punishment intended to deter him or her from repeating the same, reckless actions in the future. Although plaintiffs may also sue for compensatory damages and win such an award, judges or juries may feel that these damages are inadequate given the circumstances surrounding the accident. In these cases, they will often award punitive damages as well. According to Florida statues regarding punitive damages, you may be entitled to compensation if:
- The defendant’s conduct caused loss, injury or damage that is so gross and flagrant as to show a reckless disregard of human life or the safety of persons exposed to the effects of such conduct.
- The defendant’s conduct revealed such an entire lack of care that the defendant must have been consciously indifferent to the consequences.
- The defendant’s conduct showed such reckless indifference to the rights of others as to be equivalent to an intentional violation of those rights.
Experienced vehicular homicide attorneys
Drunk drivers who kill another human while behind the wheel of a motor vehicle may be charged with vehicular homicide. Florida law describes vehicular homicide as:
“The killing of a human being, or the killing of a viable fetus by any injury to the mother, caused by the operation of a motor vehicle by another in a reckless manner likely to cause the death of, or great bodily harm, to another.”
Even if an intoxicated driver is traveling well below the speed limit, if they have a blood alcohol level over .08 and they cause someone else’s death while driving, he or she can be charged with vehicular homicide under Florida law. Due to the level of pain and suffering involved with serious drunk driving lawsuits, our vastly experienced attorneys at Goldberg & Rosen are passionate about procuring damages for the victims and their families. We will work relentlessly to make sure intoxicated drivers pay for their careless actions, while ensuring you obtain the full compensation you deserve.
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If you or a loved one have been the victim of negligence or misconduct, please do not hesitate to contact among the best attorneys Miami has available at Goldberg & Rosen today to receive expert guidance about your legal options, as well as a free and confidential case evaluation.