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When someone has a few drinks and then gets behind the wheel of a car, they are not only endangering themselves but also, everyone else on the road. If you or a loved one has been the victim of a DUI accident in Florida, you need to contact the experienced St. Petersburg DUI accident attorneys at Salter, Healy, Rivera & Heptner right away. We are dedicated to helping victims of DUI accidents recover full compensation for their injuries, along with bringing the negligent party to justice. Contact our office today to schedule a free consultation and case review with our St. Petersburg injury lawyers.
It is highly illegal to drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. These substances significantly impair many of our body’s functions—several of which are necessary for safe driving. Alcohol and drugs impact judgement, concentration, motor skills, focus, reaction times, and more. When a drunk or drugged driver gets behind the wheel, he or she is at heightened risk of an accident.
DUI accidents often result in severe injuries that require extensive medical care. According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV), approximately 1,101 people died in accidents involving alcohol or drugs in Florida during 2019. Additionally, 727 people suffered severe, incapacitating injuries during these DUI collisions.
Some of the most common injuries sustained in a DUI accident include the following.
Impaired driving greatly increases the likelihood of a car accident. This is especially true in the state of Florida, which has a higher rate of DUI-related fatalities than the national average. In Florida, if you have a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or higher, you will be charged with a DUI. Drivers under the age of 21 will be arrested if their BAC is higher than .02%. All Florida drivers who are lawfully arrested for a DUI must consent to chemical testing of their breath, blood, or urine to legally determine the amount of alcohol or drugs in their system. If a driver refuses a breathalyzer, their license will be suspended, and that refusal can be used as evidence against them in court.
Florida follows a no-fault system when it comes to car accidents. Unlike fault-based states, where at-fault drivers are financially liable for their victims’ damages, Florida drivers are required to pay for their own losses through personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. PIP insurance pays for drivers’ financial damages, such as medical expenses and lost wages, following a car accident regardless of fault. You cannot recover compensation for property damage or non-economic pain and suffering damages through PIP.
All drivers in Florida are required to hold $10,000 in PIP coverage, as well as $10,000 in property damage liability (PDL) coverage. If you are injured by a drunk driver, your first course of action would likely involve filing a PIP claim to recover compensation for your financial losses. You could also file a claim against the drunk driver’s PDL coverage to pay for your vehicle repairs or replacement.
Florida’s minimum insurance coverage may not be sufficient to pay for all of your damages. If your injuries qualify as serious under Florida law, you could also file a third-party insurance claim or lawsuit against the drunk driver. Through a third-party claim, you can hold the driver accountable for the full extent of your losses, including your pain and suffering damages.
If your injury meets at least one of the following criteria, you have grounds for a third-party claim.
Your St. Petersburg DUI accident attorney from Salter, Healy, Rivera & Heptner can evaluate your case and determine whether you qualify for a third-party claim.
The injuries that result from a DUI accident are often severe and can be life-threatening. After being injured in a DUI accident, it is important to get to a safe location and call 9-1-1 right away. Your health and safety should be your top priority immediately after a crash. Even if your injuries don’t feel severe, it is very important to receive medical treatment as soon as possible. Not seeing a doctor will ultimately hurt your claim and decrease your chances of recovering compensation.
If you are physically able, you will want to document evidence at the crash scene. This includes the full names and contact information of the parties involved, details of the vehicles, circumstances of the accident (weather, location, time of day, etc.), signs of intoxication, and any other important details that can indicate who was responsible. Take photos of the scene and collect witness statements, if possible. This information can be used when filing a lawsuit or insurance claim against the negligent parties.
The statute of limitations for a car accident victim to file a personal injury claim in Florida is four years from the date of the accident. Likewise, a victim of a DUI accident can also file a lawsuit against the bar or establishment that served alcohol to the drunk driver. Under Florida law, an establishment can only be held liable for a DUI accident if alcohol is served to a “habitually addicted” person or a minor. The statute of limitations for filing a dram shop claim is also four years from the date of the accident.
When filing an injury claim, it is important to act fast. If you ask an attorney to help you when you only have a week left of your statute of limitations, they may have to turn you away. It takes time to build a strong case and you want to be able to give your attorney as much time as possible. Contact our St. Petersburg DUI accident attorneys to handle your case as soon as possible.
Shortly after your accident, it is nearly guaranteed that you will receive a call from the insurance company of the other driver involved in the accident. They will want to get a recorded statement from you, but you need to know that it will not help your case if you give them one. In fact, it will most likely harm your case if you talk to them. You have no legal obligation to talk to them and you should let your attorney take over all communication to avoid any reduction to your compensation.
Our attorneys work hard to recover full compensation for our clients. Whether through a settlement negotiation or at trial, our St. Petersburg DUI accident attorneys can help you recover compensation for medical bills, vehicle repairs, pain and suffering, punitive damages, and reimbursement of lost wages.
If a family member or loved one has died in a DUI accident, we can also file a wrongful death claim on the decedent’s behalf to help ease the family’s suffering through this difficult time. No one should have to go through this tragedy, and our experienced St. Petersburg car accident attorneys will be there to guide you every step of the way.
If you have been seriously injured in a DUI accident in the state of Florida, please contact our St. Petersburg DUI accident lawyers today to schedule a free consultation. Our proven trial lawyers will do whatever it takes to get you justice. Call our office or contact us online to arrange a free case review. Let our experience and dedication work for you.