FAQs – Drunk Driving Accidents
After a car accident you are likely to have many questions: Do I need to call an attorney? Is my case worth something? Do I have to pay my medical bills? How do I hold the at-fault parties accountable? Florida law gives you the right to have all of these questions answered.
We’ve answered some common questions about drunk driving accidents below. If you’ve recently been in an accident give us a call so we can comment on the specifics of your case. Call us at one of the numbers below.
If the driver refuses a breathalyzer, will this help my case?
Florida Statute Section 316.1932 is an implied consent law in Florida, which makes clear that motorists who operate vehicles in the state give their consent to a test of their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) if there is probable cause to suspect intoxication. According to this law, drivers face consequences if they refuse to submit to a breathalyzer or other chemical test to determine if they are drunk.
Florida law also allows for a BAC test refusal to be introduced as evidence in a civil case, which means if a driver has refused to take a breath test after causing an accident, you can and should provide evidence to the jury about this refusal. Civil jurors in these situations often see a refusal as an indicator a defendant was trying to hide something as a result of the refusal to cooperate with law enforcement. The jury thus may be more likely to conclude the other motorist was intoxicated and caused the crash as a result of drunkenness.
Can I sue the bar that served alcohol to the drunk driver responsible for my car accident?
Bars, restaurants and other hospitality businesses that serve alcohol have some basic obligations to ensure safety. One of those obligations includes a duty not to sell alcohol under certain circumstances. A violation of this duty gives victims injured as a result of the decision to serve alcohol the right to file a lawsuit against the bar, restaurant or other hospitality establishment.
The law establishing the duty of bars and restaurants not to serve alcohol is called a dram shop law. Florida's dram shop law is found in Florida Statute 768.125. The law makes clear that a bar, or other establishment, can become responsible for harm that occurs when the establishment willfully and unlawfully sells or furnishes alcoholic beverages to someone who is not of drinking age or to someone who is habitually addicted to the use of alcoholic beverages.
A Fort Myers DUI accident attorney can help you to prove that the person who was served was underage or was a known drunkard who frequently visited the bar. If you can prove the bar served someone under 21 or served someone they knew was drunk, you may be successful in claiming a civil lawsuit. A civil lawsuit allows you to obtain compensation from the bar for a DUI car crash caused by the person who was served too much alcohol.
How likely is it that I will need to go to court in order to receive compensation for my car accident injuries?
When you pursue a case for compensation from a drunk driver, it can settle outside of court if the insurer accepts its policyholder was at fault and makes a fair compensation offer.
It is very common for a settlement agreement to be reached when a car accident is caused by a drunk driver. Insurers know there is often scientific proof of intoxication, which creates a presumption of negligence and makes it easier for collision victims to successfully get a jury to award them damages.
Insurers also know juries don't like drunk drivers and are likely to award large amounts of damages when the plaintiff proves a defendant caused a crash due to intoxication. As a result, the insurer will likely want to settle. If this is the case you will avoid court, unless you are unhappy with the offer and choose to proceed to trial.
You should speak with a drunk driving accident attorney about whether you could recover broader compensation by going to court. Don't accept a settlement until after talking with a lawyer about what your case is worth.
What should I expect when suing someone for injuries due to an accident caused by drunk driving?
Victims injured in any car crash can obtain compensation through a lawsuit if they can prove a defendant was liable for the crash due to a breach of duty. In situations where you were harmed by a drunk driver, there may be multiple possible defendants you could name including the intoxicated motorist and the establishment that over-served him or her.
You should first begin your case by determining who should be named as a defendant so you can maximize the chances of full recovery. Once you have determined who could be at fault, you can file a civil lawsuit in the appropriate court. You'll need to state legal grounds for your argument.
The insurers will likely try to negotiate a settlement with you, which you can accept if you choose, but you must sign a liability release if you do accept the offer. If you don't settle you will have the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant is to blame for the harm you have endured.
In cases where impaired drivers violated laws against drunk driving, this violation creates a presumption of negligence. As a result, you should focus on demonstrating impairment and proving the crash occurred as a direct result of the intoxicated motorist.
Fort Myers Attorney Randall Spivey Can Represent You
Every case is different. Some DUI accident cases are better suited for settlement, while others should consider trial. It is impossible to foresee each potential possibility so we encourage you to consult with an attorney who specializes in DUI accident cases.
Attorney Randall Spivey serves Lee, Collier and Charlotte counties. Call our law firm today:
Lee: (239) 337-7483
Collier: (239) 793-7748
Charlotte: (941) 764-7748
Toll-Free: (888) 477-4839.