Have you been in an automobile accident with a drunk driver or someone driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs? In this section we describe what the legal recourse is for those whose property or livelihood has been damaged in a drunk driving accident.
What Constitutes a Drunk Driving Claim?
When a driver makes the conscious decision to drive and/or take drugs and get behind the wheel of a car, they not only behaving irresponsibly but are acting in a legally negligent manner. In the state of Florida, the legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit is .08 for adults over 21; it is only .02 for those under 21.
If the driver at fault received a citation or was arrested at the scene, victims of drunk-driving accidents and their family members may be able to file a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit against the drunk driver and sometimes others in order to receive compensation for their injuries. They can recover compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, disability or for the emotional and financial loss suffered when an accident results in the death of a family member. In certain situations, punitive damages may also be recovered.
When the Driver Has No Insurance
What can one do if the drunken driver in question has no insurance? Even though a driver may have committed a crime, it is necessary to prove that not only was the driver inebriated but was also at fault in the accident. However, there are methods for receiving compensation even if the driver A) has no insurance and B) is not considered to be technically at fault (imagine, for example, a drunk driver who is struck by a car while stopped at a stop light and cannot be considered at fault).
- Uninsured Motorist (UIM) Benefits from your insurance company
- Dram Shop Laws (see below)
- Financial assets of the driver
Different Types of Drunk Driving Lawsuit Claims
There are multiple factors that can influence a lawsuit claim. Not only can the at-fault driver be liable, but so too may other parties which could be negligent. Here are some examples of cases:
Claims Against the Driver
Because DUI is a crime, a court will automatically find a drunk driver negligent and thus responsible for any resulting damages. Also, because bankruptcy laws do not permit individuals to be released from obligations acquired due to alcoholic driving accidents, incentivizing insurance companies to settle these cases or else face bad faith claims.
Liability for Negligently Serving Alcohol: Dram Shop Laws
While the intoxicated driver and the vehicle owner in a drunk driving crash are usually the only parties held responsible, in some instances, the establishment that served alcohol to the driver may also be liable. This is possible because of dram shop laws which impose a duty on bars, restaurants and individuals to refrain from serving alcohol to habitual drunkards who are visibly intoxicated or to individuals who are under 21 years of age. If any of these duties have been breached, they may be responsible for the injuries suffered by victims of drunk driving accidents.
Road Design Defects
In addition to the negligent party, the accident could have been caused or exacerbated by a defective road design, such as non-functioning stop lights, poorly constructed roadways, overgrown vegetation, or missing or damaged guardrails.