Drunk Driving Accidents

Did you know that every day, almost 30 people in the United States die in automobile accidents involving drivers who are under the influence of alcohol or drugs? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this amounts to one death every 48 minutes. This statistic does not reflect the additional number of persons who are injured, but not killed, by drunk drivers. Unfortunately, Jacksonville has its fair share.

In Florida, the department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles reported more than 17,000 car accidents involving alcohol in 2010. To be considered “intoxicated,” the blood alcohol level for Florida drivers over age 21 is .08. Any driver under age 21 with a blood alcohol level higher than .02 will have his or her driver’s license suspended for six months.

Even moderate drinking can impair drivers and lead to accidents. The National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration recently came out with a new ad campaign, “Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving,” to raise awareness about the devastating consequences of driving even while slightly impaired.

Despite awareness campaigns and tough laws, many people still drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. In fact, in Florida, police arrest more than 60,000 people for driving under the influence each year. Of course, drunk driving accidents are 100 percent preventable.

Injuries resulting from drunk driving car and truck accidents are usually severe and lead to significant losses for the victims and their families. Fortunately, the law provides an injured person the right to recover damages from the responsible party for medical bills, lost wages and the loss of the enjoyment of life (pain and suffering). In addition, punitive damages can also be recovered from a driver who chooses to drive while under the influence. While money can never compensate for a person’s personal injuries, it can ease the financial burdens caused by the accident.

An important factor in a serious drunk driving case is determining how and where the driver got inebriated, because sometimes, there are other parties who may be liable for resulting injuries. For example, the people or businesses serving alcohol may be responsible for damages caused by the drunk driver. In Florida, businesses selling alcohol may be held liable under two situations: if the inebriated person is under the age of 21; or if the person served is known by the establishment as a “habitual drunkard.”

It is also important for attorneys to investigate whether the drunk driver was working at the time of an accident. Under Florida law, the employer will be liable for injuries and economic losses and may also be liable for punitive damages if it knew the driver’s past issues with alcohol or substance abuse.

Unfortunately, in our auto accident practice here in Jacksonville, we notice that very often drunk drivers causing personal injuries have little or no insurance. This makes having uninsured motorist coverage all the more important. Uninsured motorist insurance covers you for personal injuries, lost wages and medical expenses if you are injured by another driver who has little or no bodily injury insurance coverage.

If you or a family member have been injured by a drunk driver, it is critical to hire an attorney with proven experience in drunk driving accidents. The Lawrence Law Group, P.A., aggressively pursues claims against drunk drivers responsible for serious injuries and death. Contact us today for a free consultation.