How We Help Florida Families Affected by Drunk Drivers During the HolidaysShare December 20, 2023 | Category: DUI
While drunk driving is a concern year-round in Florida, it is especially a concern during the holidays. It is no secret that many people drink to excess at holiday parties and, unfortunately, some of these people then make the extremely poor decision to get behind the wheel.
When they do so, the consequences can be devastating.
Every year, innocent victims suffer life-altering injuries and lose their lives in drunk driving accidents. This is a fact that we know all too well. We have seen the consequences of drunk driving accidents first-hand, and this is one reason why we are so passionate about helping victims and their families. If you are coping with the consequences of a drunk driver’s actions, we can help. Fort Myers accident lawyer Randall L. Spivey can fight to make sure you and your family receive the financial compensation you deserve.
Understanding Why Drunk Driving Accidents Happen
Understanding your (or your family’s) legal rights after a drunk driving accident starts with understanding why these accidents happen. While this may seem obvious, in many cases, there are factors involved besides the drunk driver’s decision to get behind the wheel. For example:
Bars and Restaurants Serve Underage Patrons
Bars and restaurants regularly serve underage patrons. Whether they do so intentionally or as a result of not adequately checking customers’ IDs, the consequences can be the same. Establishments that serve alcohol in Florida have a legal duty to ensure that they do not serve anyone who is under 21. When they fail to meet this duty, they can, and should, be held accountable.
Bars and Restaurants Serve People Who Are Clearly Drunk
Drunk driving accidents also frequently happen when bars and restaurants serve people who are clearly intoxicated. Here, too, establishments have a duty to help protect the safety of Florida’s roads. However, some bartenders are reckless, and some establishments prioritize their profits over the public’s safety. If someone who has been overserved causes a drunk driving accident, the establishment may be liable in this scenario as well.
Social Hosts Allow Minors Access to Alcohol
During holiday parties, some hosts will allow minors to drink at their homes. Sadly, underage drivers are especially prone to making bad decisions when they are under the influence of alcohol. Giving minors access to alcohol is against the law, and it is a mistake for which social hosts can often be held accountable.
Companies Require Their Drivers to Work Over the Holidays
Companies need their employees to work during the holiday season, and many people need to work through the holidays in order to make ends meet. Unfortunately, these factors also frequently play a role in drunk driving accidents. But, whether on the way to work, at work, or on the way home, there is no excuse for driving under the influence any time of year. Under Florida law, employers can be held liable when their employees cause car accidents while driving under the influence on the job.
People Make Bad Decisions While Drinking
Of course, some people simply make bad decisions while drinking. To avoid making these bad decisions, people who plan to drink at holiday parties should make arrangements with a designated driver, give their keys to a friend or family member, or do anything else that helps ensure they will not drink and drive. There are many options. They just need to pick one. Once someone starts drinking, their faculties can quickly become impaired.
Understanding Your (or Your Family’s) Right After a Drunk Driving Accident in Florida
The reason (or reasons) for a drunk driving accident determines your legal rights as a victim or surviving family member. Once your Fort Myers accident lawyer determines why the accident happened, he will be able to determine which claim (or claims) to file on your behalf. For example, some of the potential options for seeking financial compensation after a drunk driving accident in Florida include:
- Filing a Claim Against a Bar or Restaurant – Under Florida’s dram shop law, bars and restaurants can be held liable for knowingly serving alcohol to someone who is underage or who is “habitually addicted to the use of any or all alcoholic beverages.” There are various ways an experienced lawyer can seek to establish liability and prove knowledge by the bar.
- Filing a Claim Against a Social Host – Social hosts can be held liable if they knowingly allow underage guests to possess alcohol and fail to take reasonable steps to prevent them from drinking it. Not only is furnishing alcohol to a minor a misdemeanor offense, but it also constitutes negligence under Florida law.
- Filing a Claim Against a Drunk Driver’s Employer – Under Florida law, employers can be held liable for their employees’ negligence within the scope of their employment. This means that if someone causes an accident while driving drunk on the job, his or her employer may be legally and financially responsible.
- Filing a Claim with the Drunk Driver’s Insurance Company – If the drunk driver has bodily injury liability (BIL) coverage under his or her auto insurance policy, your lawyer will be able to file a claim with his or her insurance company.
- Filing a Claim with Your Insurance Company – After a drunk driving accident, filing a claim with your insurance company is a possibility as well. Along with seeking Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage. It is important to carry uninsured/underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage to either supplement a claim against the drunk driver’s insurer or to pursue a claim if the drunk driver failed to carry bodily injury liability coverage.
An experienced Fort Myers accident lawyer will also examine any and all other potential sources of financial recovery. Even if you or a loved one got hit by a drunk driver, this does not necessarily mean that alcohol was the only factor involved in the accident. Other potential factors could include things like:
- Faulty brakes
- Over or underinflated tires
- Defective vehicle components (i.e., accelerator pedals and airbags)
- Hazardous road conditions
- Other drivers’ negligence
If any of these factors played a role in the accident, you may have a claim against a vehicle manufacturer, or other third party. Even if this third party is not fully liable for the crash, filing a claim could still be critical for helping to manage the long-term costs of the drunk driver’s negligence.
What You Can Do to Make Sure the Drunk Driver (or Other Responsible Party) is Held Accountable
Regardless of who (or what company) is liable for a drunk driving accident, there are some important steps victims and their families need to take to protect their legal rights. For example, to help your lawyer hold the responsible party (or parties) accountable, you should try to take the following steps as soon as possible:
1. Prioritize Your Physical and Mental Wellbeing
First and foremost, you should prioritize your physical and mental wellbeing. If you were injured in a drunk driving accident, make sure you get the treatment you need. If you have lost a loved one in a fatal accident, make sure you get the help you need as well. This is an extraordinarily difficult situation, and it is not one you should try to handle on your own.
2. Report the Accident
All car accidents that result in injuries or fatalities must be reported under Florida law. Calling 911 satisfies this requirement, but if 911 was not called for any reason, you may need to submit a form online. Your Fort Myers accident lawyer can determine what (if anything) you need to do to report the accident.
3. Write Down Everything You Can Remember
While it can be difficult, it is important to write down everything you can remember about the crash. Once you have taken notes, you should bring them with you to your free initial consultation.
4. Avoid Talking to the Insurance Companies
You will likely need to report the accident to your auto insurance company, but aside from reporting the accident to your insurer, you should avoid talking to the insurance companies at this time. They are not on your side, and you will want to have your lawyer deal with them for you.
5. Do not Wait Until After the Holiday Season
Finally, although you have already been through more than enough, it is important not to wait until after the holiday season to deal with the accident. Taking action promptly can be crucial, and once you hire a lawyer, he can take the next steps on your behalf.
What You Can Expect When You Hire a Fort Myers Accident Lawyer
When a lawyer takes your case, your lawyer is there to help, and your lawyer is invested in doing everything he or she can to help you achieve a just outcome.
We know that you are dealing with a very difficult situation. With this in mind, here is what you can expect when you choose our firm to represent you or your family:
1. We Will Answer All of Your Questions
We want you to feel as comfortable as possible, and we want to make sure you are making informed decisions. As a result, we invite you to ask any questions you may have, and we will be more than happy to answer all of them.
2. We Will Be Here When You Want to Speak With Us
As the days go by, you may have additional questions, or you may think of additional details to share. Or, you may simply want someone to talk to. We will be here when you want to get in touch with us.
3. We Will Pursue All Viable Claims
No matter what it takes to assert your (or your family’s) legal rights, we will do everything in our power to make sure the drunk driver and any other responsible parties are held accountable. We will pursue all viable claims, and we will be prepared to take them to court if necessary.
4. We Will Fight for the Full Compensation You and Your Family Deserve
Whether we are able to enter into settlement negotiations or we need to go to court, we will fight for the full compensation you and your family deserve. We will carefully calculate your financial and non-financial damages, and we will not let the insurance companies talk you into settling for anything less.
5. We Will Not Charge You Anything Out of Pocket
Finally, we will not charge you anything out of pocket. We only earn our legal fees if we make a monetary recovery for you. When you make a monetary recovery, our fees will be calculated as a percentage of the amount we help you and your family recover.
Schedule a Free, No-Obligation Consultation with Fort Myers Accident Lawyer Randall L. Spivey
If you are dealing with the consequences of a drunk driving accident during the holiday season, we are here to support you, and we encourage you to contact us to learn more about your legal options. To arrange a free, no-obligation consultation with Fort Myers accident lawyer Randall L. Spivey, please call 888-477-4839 or contact Spivey Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.A. online at SpiveyLaw.com today.