If you have been injured or lost a loved in a drunk driving accident, contact a Tampa drunk driving accident lawyer to schedule your free consultation. Drunk driving can have a devastating impact on individuals and their families. The people of Florida along with their state legislators, justices, and politicians believe that it is a priority to hold accountable those who endanger or take the lives of innocent citizens through drunk driving. Contact Winters & Yonker’s Tampa injury lawyers today to review your DUI accident claim.
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Is Drunk Driving A Misdemeanor or Felony in Florida?
Drinking and driving isn’t just a poor decision, it is a crime. If a drunk driver’s actions result in serious injury, it is charged as a 3rd-degree felony in Tampa, Florida, The offense is punishable by a maximum of five years in prison. If they result in death, it becomes a 2nd-degree felony – an offense that carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in jail. Clearly, the criminal justice system has its own method of dealing with drunk drivers, but what about the people those drivers injure or kill? Who holds these individuals accountable to you?
At Winters & Yonker, we fight aggressively for the rights of drunk driving accident victims and their families. Even if the driver is facing serious criminal penalties already, you still have the right to pursue a civil action for personal injury or wrongful death. Let a Tampa drunk driving accident lawyer examine your case and determine what you are owed as a result of your injury or loss.
Drunk driving puts innocent lives in danger. At Winters & Yonker, we believe in holding drunk drivers responsible for the harm they cause to others. Part of that responsibility is providing you with all the compensation you deserve to cover medical bills, pain and suffering, physical therapy, lost wages, and other monetary damages. Call us today to discuss your case for free or get started online.
How can a Lawyer Prove Negligence in a Drunk Driving Accident?
DUI is considered a form of negligence in Florida but proving negligence can be more complicated than it would seem. Establishing legal liability requires the plaintiff to be able to show the following:
- The driver had the duty to the injured party to operate his vehicle with caution
- The driver breached that duty
- The plaintiff was injured as a result of that breach
While it may seem like a simple equation, the details that get filled in to prove those points make the task of proving negligence far more complex. This is why you need a qualified Tampa drunk driving accident lawyer on your side. Our expert legal team can help you piece together all of the details and build a compelling case that leads to a reasonable settlement or judgment in your favor. Call or contact us through our chat to discuss your case with one of our experienced drunk driving accident lawyers for free.
Do Insurance Cover DUI Accidents?
All drivers in Florida are required to carry auto insurance. As a no-fault auto insurance state, injured parties in Florida are required to first approach their own insurers to seek coverage for damages after an accident. At issue here is the fact that injuries in drunk driving accidents are often significant and carry expenses that go far beyond what an individual policy will pay. You need a way to cover all of your medical expenses, pay you lost wages (both present and future if needed), and see to all of your ongoing treatment and care. Winters and Yonker offer the services of a variety of personal injury lawyers with a wide variety of experience.
Many victims of drunk driving accidents find it necessary to pursue claims with the drunk driver’s insurance company to fill the gaps left by their own policies. Many also settle with the insurance company not knowing that they are sacrificing large amounts of money and will ultimately be left financially responsible for at least part of their ongoing care.
You owe it to yourself to have an experienced Tampa drunk driving accident lawyer by your side throughout the entire process. Before you accept an offer of settlement from an insurance company, call Winters & Yonker at (813) 223-6200. You may be entitled to significantly more than the insurance company is willing to pay.
What About Uninsured Motorists?
When the driver is uninsured, the plaintiff will often need to pursue an uninsured/under-insured motorist claim through his or her own carrier. It can be an even bigger challenge collecting from your own company, given that it wasn’t their client who caused your injury. We can help you collect from your own carrier and explore all other available avenues of compensation for your injury.
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Understating Comparative Fault
A common defense in civil drunk driving cases is the assertion of comparative fault. The defendant will almost always attempt to show that either the plaintiff, a third party, or some unforeseen circumstance shared a portion of the responsibility for the accident. In the event that both parties are unable to reach a decision, the matter is left for a jury to decide.
Unlike some states that disallow victims found to be partially at fault from collecting damages, Florida takes a more practical approach. Under our “pure” comparative negligence system, plaintiffs are allowed to recover damages, less an amount determined to represent his or her degree of fault. If for example, a jury finds damages amounting to $50,000, but finds the plaintiff 10% responsible, the actual award to the plaintiff would be $45,000.
Can The Drunk Driver Sue My Insurance Company?
Under normal circumstances, drunk drivers are precluded from seeking compensation for their own injuries. If the driver had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher at the time of the incident and is found to be more than 50% at fault due to intoxication, he or she is not entitled to collect damages.
What is DRAM Shop Law?
While negligence law does not typically allow third parties to be held responsible for drunk driving accidents, there are exceptions.
The first exception is governed by the principle of the dangerous instrumentality. This law doctrine holds the owner of an inherently dangerous tool liable when injuries are suffered as a result of the operation and use of that tool. While most states do not define a car as an inherently dangerous tool, Florida does.
The law goes even further to hold the owner of the car accountable. If a person allows someone else to operate their vehicle, the owner is liable for any damages resulting from the negligent operation. What this means is that if someone borrows a car in Florida, drives drunk, and injures you as a result, there is a good chance that you would be entitled to recover damages from the owner of the vehicle as well as the driver.
These kinds of subtleties in the law are just another reason why you should speak to an attorney after a drunk driving accident. Our experienced drunk driving attorneys will uncover and pursue every avenue of compensation to which you are entitled.
The second exception is found in the details of Florida’s Dram Shop Law. Per Florida Statute 768.125, individuals who suffer injury in an auto accident due to drunk driving have the right to pursue civil action against any person who unlawfully and willfully furnishes or sells alcohol to another person under the age of 21 or to a person of any age who is known to be addicted to alcohol at the time of the transaction. Some parties that could be named in this instance include:
- liquor store owners
- parents of minors who host parties where alcohol is available to underage drinkers
If you or someone you love has fallen victim to a drunk driver, contact Winters & Yonker: Florida’s aggressive personal injury attorneys today. We are here 24/7/365 to help you collect compensation for your injuries.
Drunk Driving: Your Right’s as an Injured Party
Florida drunk driving law is a complicated subject and dealing with all of the details can aggravate an already stressful and complicated situation. Drunk driving accidents bring up their own set of unique legal issues that your attorney can help you sort through.
Unlike in some states, you are not required to wait until the conclusion of a criminal trial before bringing a civil case in Florida. It is therefore in your best interest to act swiftly after the accident. The negligent driver does not need to have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) high enough for criminal prosecution to be guilty of negligent operation.
Regardless of whether prosecuting attorneys land a conviction in a criminal trial you are likely to still be entitled to compensation.
What is the Legal BAC Limit in Florida?
Every state has its own laws and regulations that relate to driving under the influence of alcohol and other substances. Since laws vary from state to state, driving under the influence in one could carry completely different penalties than another. In the state of Florida, DUI is defined legally as an impairment of the ability to operate a motor vehicle or a BAC of .08 or above while operating.
Negative Outcomes of Drinking and Driving in Florida
DUI offenders in Florida can be subject to fines and imprisonment, even on a first offense. Community service, license revocation, probation, and mandatory driving and substance abuse education programs, are all possible punishments and consequences for driving under the influence in Florida. When a drunk driver causes an accident, he or she is subject to a list of related criminal charges under most circumstances.
In civil terms, drunk drivers are often exposed to a wider range of liabilities when they injure others while driving impaired. Driving under the influence of any substance is a failure to exercise the duty of care we owe to each other as drivers. Statutory regulations against drunk driving state that we have a responsibility to operate our motor vehicles in a responsible manner absent of any kind of impairment. Breaching this requirement is evidence of driver negligence under Florida law.
Representing Victims of Drunk Driving
It is important to seek the right representation in your drunk driving accident case. People tend to view DUI cases as criminal matters, but there is a strong civil law component designed to protect those who become injured by drunk drivers. Your drunk driver accident attorney team at Winters & Yonker is ready to stand with you and fight to collect every penny in compensation you deserve for your injury.
Hire an Aggressive Attorney from Winters and Yonker
We aggressively pursue maximum recovery for victims of drunk driving injuries and fatalities. Call today to schedule a free initial consultation with one of our experienced lawyers. We are available 24 hours per day, seven days per week, 365 days per year. We don’t take weekends off and we can meet with you at home, in the hospital, or anywhere convenient for you (including our own offices).