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Drunk driving is one of the most reckless, negligent, and dangerous things a person can do. Accidents from drunk driving can cause major injuries and even fatalities, all as a result of the driver’s carelessness. Morgan & Morgan is committed to holding these negligent parties, such as those operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol, accountable for their actions.
Our Tampa lawyers have extensive experience handling drunk driving accident claims and successfully getting their client’s compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and other losses. In some cases, our drunk driving injury attorneys have even gotten our clients punitive damages - these are to punish the defendant and deter them and others from making that mistake in the future.
We offer thorough investigations, cost-free consultations, and most importantly, results. Morgan & Morgan has gotten victories worth millions of dollars for its clients; we have the resources and expertise needed to get you compensation for your drunk driving accident, giving you a voice when you need it most.
How Can a Tampa Drunk Driving Injury Attorney Help?
Drunk driving accidents often result in serious injuries, and in some cases, death. While you focus on recovery, your attorney will create a claim on which your insurance claim and potential lawsuit will be based. In creating this claim, your attorney will investigate and gather information relevant to the accident, which may include:
- Police car video of the scene
- Police reports
- Photographs of the scene
- Witness statements
- Breathalyzer results, if available
- Blood and urine test results, if available
- Your medical records
- The names of medications the driver may have also taken and
- Your account of the accident
Your claim will attempt to demonstrate that the other driver was at fault for the accident (i.e. drunk) and is therefore responsible for your losses. If the driver refuses a breathalyzer test at the scene, it may be difficult to prove he or she was under the influence at the time of the accident.
If the test is declined at the scene, the driver’s blood alcohol level, when it is finally tested, may have dropped to a level below Florida’s .08% driving limit. In these instances, your attorney will have to establish the driver was under the influence when the accident occurred - without this piece of vital medical evidence.
To gather additional information which can help support your claim, your attorney may speak with the establishment or individual that supplied the driver with alcohol, talk with individuals who saw the driver prior to the incident, research the driver’s history of alcohol abuse or drunk driving and consult with experts, including accident reconstructions.
Using this information, your attorney may be able to complete a timeline and determine whether alcohol was the direct cause of the crash.
Negligence and Wrongful Death Lawsuits
Your lawsuit against the drunk driver and/or insurance company will likely be based on the theory of negligence or wrongful death. Your attorney must prove certain elements to show that the other party was negligent in causing the accident.
- Duty of Care: The driver who caused your injury must have owed you a duty of care. Operating a vehicle automatically imposes a duty of care to others on the roadway and surrounding area.
- Breach of Duty: The driver breached this duty by driving under the influence, and perhaps also by violating other traffic laws. A key element in establishing a breach of duty is proving the driver was intoxicated above Florida’s legal limit of .08 to operate a vehicle.
- Injury: You sustained an injury in the accident.
- Causation: The injury was caused by the driver’s breach of duty (drunk driving).
Negligence claims may be filed by the injured party, seeking compensation for expenses and pain incurred as a result of the accident.
In the event of a fatal crash in Tampa, a wrongful death lawsuit may be an option for surviving family members.
Drunk Driving Liability
A number of parties may be liable for a drunk driving accident, including:
- Drunk Driver: If an accident occurs while one of the drivers is under the influence of alcohol, the intoxicated party may be liable for breaking the law and driving recklessly.
- Employer: The employer of the driver may be liable if the accident occurred in a company-owned vehicle or while in the process of completing a work-related task.
- Third Party: If another’s negligence contributed to the accident, they may also be liable for damages. These third parties may include passengers who knew the driver was intoxicated but allowed them to drive, or police officers who let drivers under the influence continue to drive after being pulled over.
Florida’s Dram Shop Law Liability
Florida’s Dram Shop law, enacted to limit frivolous lawsuits, provides protection for certain parties, limiting the instances in which they may be liable for a drunk driving accident. The person or business (e.g. bars, liquor stores, clubs, party hosts, friends, etc.) providing the driver with alcohol are typically not liable for damage caused by the driver; however, there are two exceptions.
- Sale to Minors: If a business provides alcohol to a minor they can be held liable for damages. Providing alcohol to a minor, regardless of knowledge of the age of the individual, makes the business strictly liable for damages.
- Knowledge of Abuse: If an individual or entity knows the driver has a history of abusing alcohol and still serves them, they may be liable for any resulting damages.
What Compensation Can I Recover?
Compensatory damages will cover your expenses and distress related to your injury.
Medical Expenses: This can include hospital bills, rehabilitation, transportation, medication, and any other injury-related expenses you may have.
Lost Wages: If your injury has prevented you from working, you may be entitled to compensation for the money you would have earned, had the accident not occurred.
Loss of Earning Capacity: If the injury causes a permanent disability that affects your capability to perform your job as you had prior to the accident, you may be entitled to compensation to offset the difference between your current income and the amount you were earning prior to the accident.
Pain and Suffering: This covers mental anguish you have sustained as a result of the accident, including treatment for depression, anxiety, fear, and other mental anguish. Additionally, coverage may be provided for pain endured as a result of the injury or related treatment.
Loss of Consortium: The victim’s spouse may be able to recover for the loss of intimacy and quality of the marriage.
In some drunk driving cases, the attorney may seek punitive damages. These damages serve to punish the negligent party for their actions and deter similar behavior in the future.
In Florida, punitive damages may be awarded if the jury finds:
- The conduct which caused the injury was gross and flagrant, and showed a reckless disregard for human life
- The conduct showed such an entire lack of care that the driver must have been consciously indifferent to the consequences
- The conduct showed such an entire lack of care that the driver must have recklessly disregarded the safety and welfare of the public
- The conduct was so reckless it could be considered an intentional violation of others’ rights
How Can Morgan & Morgan Help You?
Have you been injured, or lost a loved one, in an accident with a drunk driver? If so, you may be entitled to damages for your losses. To learn more about how our Tampa attorneys may be able to help, please fill out our free case review form today.