If You’ve Been Hit By A Drunk Driver, You Need To Protect Your Rights
We all know driving a car is a privilege not a right. Yet each day innocent people are either hurt or killed by drunk drivers. Those who make the choice to drink and drive need to be punished for their conduct and held accountable for the harm they have caused.
Holding drunk drivers accountable takes an experienced attorney familiar with the laws that apply to any given set of facts and you should hire an attorney capable of protecting your rights.
Quick Reference Links
- Steps to take at the scene of the accident
- What is the legal limit for drinking and driving?
- What if the drunk driver is found not guilty?
- The drunk driver does not have insurance, now what?
- Can I sue the business that served the drunk driver alcohol?
- What damages can I recover when a drunk driver causes a wrongful death or injures me?
I have answered many questions about drunk driving cases. Here are a few commonly asked questions. If you need questions answered please contact one of our Orlando car accident lawyers and we will help.
Steps to take at the scene of the accident when you’ve been hit by a drunk driver
Once everyone is safe and out of harms way call 911 to report the accident. Drunk drivers are notorious for leaving the scene of accidents for fear of being arrested. It is equally important to be able to identify the person driving.
A common tactic taken by drunk drivers to avoid arrest is the drunk driver may switch positions in the car before the police arrive. If possible use your phones’ camera and take a picture of person behind the wheel of the car and the vehicle tag. This evidence will be helpful to law enforcement.
When law enforcement arrives cooperate fully with them. Their job is to gather evidence to prosecute the drunk driver. If you overheard the drunk driver making statements about where he had been drinking, or what he had been drinking, make sure you report this to law enforcement. These statements are important and likely admissible at trial against the drunk driver.
If possible, take photographs of the cars and their damaged condition. If possible, also take photographs of the accident scene. Preserving evidence of the vehicles condition as well as the accident will be helpful in the prosecution of any case.
After law enforcement completes their investigation get your injuries thoroughly checked out by trained medical professionals. Failing to do so puts you at risk for further injury. Medical professionals are trained to evaluate your symptoms and run specialized diagnostic tests to help diagnose what injuries you sustained.
Make sure you contact your insurance company to report the accident. With your insurance company you have a duty to cooperate with them and they may ask for a recorded statement.
Contact an experienced attorney to prepare you before giving any statement so you don’t jeopardize your legal rights under your insurance contract. We will be glad to discuss the obligations you may have with your insurance before you speak to them.
Do not talk to the drunk driver or his or her insurance company. If the drunk drivers’ insurance company contacts you, simply decline speaking to them. Contact our firm and we will contact the adverse carrier and advise them not to have further contact with you.
What is the legal limit for drinking and driving?
In Florida, the legal blood alcohol content (BAC) is .08. If the driver is under 21 years of age the limit is even lower, .02.
What if the drunk driver is found not guilty?
If for some reason a drunk driver is found not guilty in criminal court that does not mean you do not have a civil case. There are many reasons for a not guilty verdict in drunk driving cases. A not guilty verdict does not extinguish your right to bring a civil lawsuit.
Drunk drivers cannot hide behind their right to remain silent in a civil case. They will have to answer questions under oath regarding the events that led to the accident. Should they fail to do so the court can enter sanctions against them, including dismissing any defense they may raise.
The drunk driver does not have any insurance, now what?
The question of whether the drunk driver has insurance comes up in almost every case. Whether insurance exists requires more than simply taking the drunk drivers word, or a letter from some insurance company saying payment wasn’t made and therefore no insurance exists.
We get answers to the question of insurance under oath and subject to the penalties of perjury. When it comes to protecting our clients’ rights we do not take the drunk drivers word, or an unsworn letter from an insurance carrier.
Insurance coverage may also be available from your own insurance company. If you purchased uninsured, or underinsured insurance you may have an available source of recovery, even if the drunk driver is uninsured.
This information on uninsured and underinsured motorist claims may be helpful to you. You can also contact our office for questions on insurance coverage in drunk driving cases. We are here to help.
Can I sue the business that served thedrunk driver alcohol?
There are circumstances where you may be able to recover from the establishment that served alcohol to the drunk driver. Florida’s dram shop law may allow recovery against a business for serving alcohol to someone under 21 years of age, or serving alcohol to someone that was known to be habitually addicted to alcohol.
In order to find out if you have a potential dram shop case contact our office. We can help.
What damages can I recover when a drunk driver causes a wrongful death or injures me?
As in any personal injury or wrongful death claim you or your loved one may be entitled to compensatory damages for medical bills, loss wages, pain, suffering, disability, mental anguish, and if you are married you may also be entitled to loss of spousal support and services.
In addition to compensatory damages you may be entitled to recover what is called punitive damages. Punitive damages are damages awarded by a jury to punish the wrongdoer.
The law of punitive damages may apply in cases where the wrongdoer’s conduct, like drunk driving, is so reckless or reprehensible. It is the one element of damage where a jury can send the wrongdoer a message thru a money verdict to punish them as a deterrent.
How we can help
At David & Philpot, P.L., we help victims who have been hit by a drunk driver. We understand the devastating impact this can have on you and your family and are here to help guide you through the difficult recovery process. If you have been involved in an accident involving a drunk driver and would like us to look at your case, fill out our free case evaluation form today, or give us a call at 800 360-7015.
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