The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FDOT) reported 5,223 confirmed alcohol-related crashes in 2016 alone. Of those incidents, 1,971 resulted in injury, and 461 caused at least one fatality. Victims of drunk-driving crashes have rights under Florida law.
Under Florida’s Statute 316.193, driving while intoxicated is a crime. If the accident results in serious injury, it is a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison. If the accident results in a death, it is a second-degree felony, punishable by up to 15 years in jail.
Aside from criminal laws designed to prosecute the individual who engages in drunk driving, what rights are available to the victims of drunk driving?
Rights of victims
Victims of drunk-driving crashes and their loved ones are granted specific rights by the State of Florida. These rights include:
- The right to be informed and kept up to date on criminal proceedings.
- The right to be present at trial.
- The right to be heard during criminal proceedings.
- The right to compensation.
Florida law requires all drivers to carry Personal Injury Protection (PIP) and property damage liability (PDL) insurance. Florida is a no-fault auto insurance state, meaning injured parties will first rely on their own insurer to cover damages. In many drunk-driving crashes, injuries are significant, and those liability limits may not be enough to cover all medical expenses, lost wages, and on-going care needs. Therefore, civil lawsuits are often filed.
What is a civil lawsuit?
A personal injury civil lawsuit is a lawsuit that can be filed against the drunk driver by the victim’s attorney. This is a separate filing from any criminal charges the drunk driver may face following the accident. In the civil lawsuit, the victim must prove that the defendant’s actions directly caused or contributed to injury or damage. Often negligence or personal injury is the basis of such suits. Drunk drivers can be found to be negligent should it be proved that they breached a “duty of care” to other drivers by violating the law and causing harm to the victim.
When should legal advice be requested?
“It is important to contact a personal injury attorney immediately after seeking medical attention following an accident. Evidence may be lost; witnesses may be lost, and memories may fade. If you or a loved one has been injured in a drunk-driving crash, contact the experienced legal team at Spivey Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.A. to determine your rights,” said Fort Myers DUI Accident Attorney, Randall Spivey.
Hurt By Drunk Driver Attorney, Randall L. Spivey is a Board Certified Trial Attorney – the highest recognition for competence bestowed by the Florida Bar and a distinction earned by just one (1%) percent of Florida attorneys. He has handled over 2,000 personal injury and wrongful death cases throughout Florida. For a free and confidential consultation to discuss your legal rights, contact the Spivey Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.A., in Lee County at 239.337.7483 or toll free at 1.888.477.4839, or by email to Randall@SpiveyLaw.com. Visit SpiveyLaw.com for more information. You can contact Spivey Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.A.in Charlotte County at 941.764.7748 and in Collier County 239.793.7748.