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I Got Hit by a Drunk Driver, Can I Sue?
You are driving down the road and hear the crunch of metal, airbags deploy, and you are jostled from your seat, with only your seatbelt holding you in place. After the car stops you take a deep breath and start to gather your surroundings. Adrenaline is rushing and your hands start shaking while you try and grab your cell phone. After a moment your breathing starts to get back to normal and you dial 911. You are sore and your body aches, but you are able to get out of the car and see the impact. The driver who hit you gets out of their truck and you start to exchange insurance information. Immediately, you smell the odor of alcohol on their breath and notice their eyes are bloodshot and watery, while they talk to you with slurred speech. The police arrive and they begin the exchange of information. While taking your statement you tell them what happened, and that the other driver may be under the influence of alcohol. The adrenaline in your body subsides after an hour and you realize that you are injured and you seek medical attention. You wonder, what do I do next?
Unfortunately, this scenario in Florida is more common than you may think. According to the 2016 Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles report, 5,223 accidents involved impaired drivers. Many of these accidents involved injuries to people. So what makes drunk driving accidents different?
What is the difference in recovery for a DUI case compared to a regular auto accident case?
If you are injured in a car accident, regardless of whether or not the defendant was impaired, you may be entitled to compensatory damages. Compensatory damages are intended to reimburse you for loss, including:
- Medical Expenses- Any medical expenses related to your injury.
- Pain and Suffering– If you suffer from physical or mental aftereffects from the accident, such as depression or anxiety, you may be able to receive damages.
- Lost Wages- If you are prevented from working due to injury received in the accident.
- Loss of Earning Capacity- If you are prevented from working the same as you did before the accident, you may recover damages for the difference in potential income.
In Florida, if you have been injured in a car or truck accident where the driver was impaired, you may also be able to receive punitive damages. Punitive damages are intended as both a punishment for the drunk driver and a deterrent for other drivers.
Florida has said through the legislator and court system that plaintiffs in DUI accident cases are entitled to seek punitive damages because the act of driving while under the influence shows a “sufficiently reckless attitude for a jury to be asked to provide an award of punitive damages if it determines liability exists for compensatory damages.” Not only does the simple act of driving impaired mean that you can seek punitive damages, laws that limit damages for other negligence cases do not apply to drunk driving accident cases.
Only the defendant is liable for punitive damages, and if the defendant has limited resources then he or she may be unable to pay them. However, the insurance company has a duty to the insured to settle for the policy limits whenever possible and could be found liable for the punitive damages if they act in bad faith to their insured.
How can we help?
The auto accident lawyers at the Rhino Lawyers want to help you Take Charge of your injuries and we won’t take less from the insurance company than YOU deserve. If you have been injured in a drunk driving accident, call us at (844) RHINO-77 for a free consultation. We don’t recover unless you win!
If you or someone you know has been injured in a drunk driving (DUI) accident in Florida, you need an attorney to fight for you. With these cases, there is more likely a criminal charge, but there are also civil penalties for the driver. This means that as a victim of this accident, you may be entitled to recover damages. We sue drunk drivers.
Our auto accident attorneys will fight each case and are experienced in assisting you through the process. We know that being injured in a DUI accident can be overwhelming and painful, and we are here to help.
At Rhino Lawyers we know that insurance companies want these cases to go away with paying the least amount of money to you as possible. We want you to take charge with us to help you recover damages and be compensated for any medical bills you have to pay.
While there are similarities between a driving under the influence (DUI) accident case and a regular accident case, there are some differences that affect the value of a DUI accident case.