Drunk Driving Car Accidents

If you have been injured or lost a loved one in a drunk driving accident in Fort Lauderdale or elsewhere in South Florida, auto accident attorneys at The Ansara Law Firm, are here to help. These are among the most devastating traffic collisions with which a victim can deal, and securing experienced legal help is often essential.

We know that in the worst of these cases, nothing will completely restore someone from a catastrophic injury or bring back a loved one. But we are committed to holding negligent parties accountable. That might include not just the drunk driver, but the person who handed him the keys, his or her employer or the establishment that served him alcohol.

There are a myriad of legal strategies through which we can help those who have suffered to recover compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering and other losses. Our legal team is experienced in handling impaired driving accident claims.

Injuries suffered in drunk driving accidents have proven to be more severe than those in which drivers are sober because impaired drivers tend to take less evasive action. That means there is an increased chance of a head-on or full-impact collision.

Some examples of injuries sustained in drunk driving accidents are:

  • Spinal cord injury
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Broken bones
  • Whiplash
  • Paralysis
  • Death

Our car accident attorneys in Fort Lauderdale will seek to recover compensation from both your insurance company and the insurance companies representing other negligent parties. If any or all refuse to compensate you approrpiately, we may begin the litigation process. In the course of this action, we will gather relevant information, which may include:

  • Witness statements
  • Breathalyzer results
  • Blood or urine test results
  • Your own medical records
  • Photographs of the scene
  • Police reports
  • Police dash camera video of the scene
  • Surveillance camera footage
  • Names of medications the other driver may have been on
  • Your own account of the crash

The ultimate goal is to establish defendant was negligent and the breach of his or her duty of care proximately resulted in your injuries.

Scope of the Impaired Driving Problem

Drivers are considered to be legally impaired by alcohol when their blood-alcohol levels are 0.08 percent or higher.

There is no similar uniform system for testing impairment by marijuana or prescription medications, which is also a growing problem. Those cases will rely more heavily on circumstantial evidence.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported in 2013, a person was killed every 52 minutes in the U.S. as the result of a drunk driving accident. That amounted to a total of 10,076 fatalities in crashes where at least one driver had a blood-alcohol content of 0.08 or higher – accounting for nearly a third of all traffic deaths nationally.

While car accidents in general are a leading cause of child deaths, drunk driving accidents accounted for nearly 20 percent of all traffic fatalities among children 14 and younger. These include children who were walking or on bicycles when they were struck and killed by a drunk driver.

In terms of estimated economic costs, that breaks down to about $50 billion a year. This factored in losses attributed to:

  • Lost productivity
  • Workplace losses
  • Medical costs
  • Legal and court expenses
  • Emergency medical services
  • Insurance administration
  • Traffic congestion
  • Property damage

This figure still fails to capture the intangible losses to quality of life that inevitably stems from these crashes. While great strides have been made in recent years to drive down the drunk driving rate, it’s still a major problem on Florida roads.

State legislators in 2014 tightened DUI penalties for first-time offenders arrested with a blood-alcohol content of 0.15 or greater. For them, ignition interlock devices are mandatory. Still, safety advocates say this law should be even further expanded to require it for all first-time offenders.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving reports there were 41,000 DUI arrests in Florida in 2014 and 26,300 convictions. The agency notes the average first-time offender has driven impaired at least 80 times prior to his or her first arrest for the crime, meaning these figures are just a small snapshot of the problem.

Florida Dram Shop Laws, Vicarious Liability

In most drunk driving cases, the first person we seek to hold liable is the drunk driver and his or her insurance company.

But other entities may likewise be held responsible.

In some cases, bars can be held liable for a drunk driver’s actions under what’s known as Florida’s Dram Shop Act.

F.S. 768.125 states a person who sells or furnishes alcohol to another won’t be held responsible for injury or damage caused by the intoxicated person UNLESS:

  • The person who was served is not of lawful drinking age (under 21-years-old)
  • The establishment knowingly serves a person who is habitually addicted to alcohol

Cases of minors being served alcohol are pretty straightforward, though cases falling into the second category may require more complex litigation. Such a case requires an experienced legal team.

Another possibility for liability is an employer or vehicle owner. These cases would be predicated on the idea of vicarious liability. That is, while an employer or car owner didn’t necessarily do anything wrong personally, the legal doctrine of respondeat superior allows automobile owners and employers to be held liable for the negligent acts or omissions or employers or by a person to whom a vehicle is loaned.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a South Florida car accident, contact the personal injury attorneys at The Ansara Law Firm by calling (954) 761-4011 or toll-free at (888) ANSARA-8.