Why is it that the drunk drivers grab more attention than the victims? What typically happens in a DUI crash is that people focus on the driver that will face charges, may lose their license, and spend time in jail. Then the victim is left on the sidelines as a sad result of one person’s bad decision.
The general consensus is that yes, it is the other person’s fault, but in Florida, that doesn’t matter. You’ll likely receive a settlement from your insurance policy. But, what people don’t realize is that insurance companies are still fighting these claims and providing minuscule settlements when these victims need real help. That’s where an auto accident attorney in Tampa comes in handy.
Understanding the Difference Between Charges and Your Claim
The state will move forward with criminal charges for DUI, and those can play a role in your claim. As the victim of a DUI, it’s possible to lodge a civil lawsuit against the driver, when normally Florida would not permit that action. Florida’s crash resolution policies keep many cases out of the civil court system because your claim will only go through your insurance.
With insurance claims in Florida, neither company has very much interest in fault for anything other than adjusting their rates. Two companies or two policy representatives don’t usually have any reason to interact, and you should never receive any contact from the at-fault driver’s policy provider. But when something as serious as a drunk driving wreck happens, you do have that opportunity to move forward with criminal charges, a civil claim, and your insurance claim. An auto accident attorney in Tampa can help you do that.
Delays in the Process Could Be Beneficial
Often DUI cases slow down any insurance claim because the policies are evaluating what the police have found. So if the other driver is moving forward with a DUI defense and still gets found as guilty, it could open doors for you. That criminal conviction could result in you having access to file a civil lawsuit in a state that normally wouldn’t permit that action.
Additionally, a thorough investigation and review through the criminal court could unveil elements of the crash. It’s possible that you only knew this person was intoxicated. But, if their BAC was something like 0.30%, then you could definitely include that in your civil case, that they were multiple times over the legal limit. Additionally, if the person was speeding or engaging in other reckless behavior that would come to light during the criminal case.
Will You Get Punitive Damages and Who Pays Them?
Few people realize you can get punitive damages in Florida. Typically in other states, these come to light by moving the case from settlement negotiations to a courtroom. Here in Florida, they become a possibility during any civil action but must be awarded by the judge. You can inform the judge as part of your claim that you’re hoping to see punitive damages, but they’ll make that ultimate decision.
There are restrictions on punitive damages. These restrictions help guide judges in knowing how much to award and when. For example, they may not award more than three times the damages given to the claimant. So if you received $20,000 for your compensation, you could not receive more than $60,000 for the punitive damages.
They also look at other elements, such as intent. Did that driver intend to harm the person, or was it a “wrong place, wrong time,” situation? Additionally, they may look at the scope of other responsible parties. Dram shop laws come into consideration here, did a bar, tavern, or club allow this person to leave and drive although they were clearly intoxicated?
Getting Resolution with an Auto Accident Attorney in Tampa
When you’re looking at resolution options for your wreck, you need to consider hiring an auto accident attorney in Tampa. All too often, people feel as though the police and their insurance companies will handle everything, and they don’t realize that they needed to put more effort in until they get a tiny settlement. Then it’s basically too late to change the tides on those decisions.
To begin your claim, contact Winters & Yonker. Our auto accident law firm in Tampa handles a wide variety of car accident claims, including DUI crash resolutions. What we’ll do is look through the facts of your case and then present a strong argument for a reasonable settlement. If a fair settlement isn’t an option, we will move forward with you into taking this to court to fight for full compensation. DUI accidents should leave the victim in a position where they can’t recover physically and financially.