Be Wary of Drunk Drivers in South Florida This New Year’s Holiday

New Year’s Day is all about the celebration of new beginnings. Unfortunately, it’s one that is all too often associated with tragic endings, at least on the roads. drunk driving injury lawyer

An analysis released by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reveals Jan. 1st is the single deadliest day of the year when it comes to alcohol-related crashes involving motor vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians. The IIHS late last year looked at the most recent five years of deadly crash information, and discovered that on that day, an average of 70 people were killed in collisions where at least one driver, pedestrian or cyclist had a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher. In fact, 62 percent of all deadly crashes in the U.S. on that day were attributed to impairment by alcohol, which is almost double the overall rate of 35 percent.

In just looking at occupants of motor vehicles (excluding large trucks), an average of 83 people were killed in car accidents on New Year’s Day over that five-year time frame, compared to an average of 59 on any other given day.

It especially doesn’t bode well this year that overall traffic deaths have spiked, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports the number of alcohol-impaired driving crashes in rose nearly 2 percent between 2015 and 2016. Nearly 10,500 people died in drunk driving accidents last year. 

Although Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are slightly less dangerous, as most people are spending time at home with their families, it can’t be overlooked that DUI-related traffic stops spike by more than 30 percent on these days too.

When the NHTSA looked at the total economic cost of all traffic crashes, it was estimated to be approximately $242 billion. Of that, $44 billion is directly traced to drunk drivers. These losses include medical costs, emergency medical services, insurance administration, lost wages, lost productivity, traffic congestion and legal and court expenses.

The most dangerous time on New Year’s is the 12-hour window between 6 p.m. on December 31st and 6 a.m. on January 1st.

Although our Fort Lauderdale drunk driving injury lawyers know these occurrences are often referred to as “accidents,” the reality is they result from the conscious choices of irresponsible motorists. That’s not to say they intend to cause harm, but they fail to use reasonable care, which is a duty owed by anyone behind the wheel.

In terms of compensating victims of drunk driving for their losses, there may be several possible avenues. The first involves personal injury protection, or PIP, which is required by every driver with a registered vehicle in Florida. This is no-fault insurance coverage that will cover you – and your vehicle occupants and possibly any pedestrian or bicyclist involved – for up to $10,000 in medical expenses and lost wages. However, many drunk driving injuries are far more serious, and additional compensation is required.

The next step is to pursue action with the at-fault driver, by filing a claim with their auto insurer. Many such claims are settled out-of-court, though it’s possible one or more fact disputes (usually involving how high your damages truly are) may need to be resolved through a trial.

Sometimes even if you are successful in this, that coverage won’t be enough. In that case, you can pursue action with your own uninsured/ underinsured motorist coverage carrier. Although this coverage isn’t required in Florida, it comes standard with most auto insurance policies.

It may also be possible to pursue a dram shop liability lawsuit against the bar or restaurant that served alcohol to the driver, though per the stipulations of F.S. 768.125, this is limited to instances where the impaired driver was either under 21 or was known by the establishment to be habitually addicted to alcohol.

Your injury lawyer should be able to give you a general idea of your legal options following a free initial consultation.

Call Fort Lauderdale Injury Attorney Richard Ansara at (954) 761-4011. Serving Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.

Additional Resources:

New Year’s Day is deadliest for alcohol-related crashes, Dec. 28, 2016, IIHS

More Blog Entries:

Legislators Fight to Overturn Florida’s No-Fault Car Insurance Law, Nov. 7, 2017, Fort Lauderdale Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer Blog

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