Driving under the influence is reckless and irresponsible. It is always a serious offense. It shows great neglect for the safety of others on the road and even for the value of human life itself, which is why driving with a blood alcohol limit (BAC) over .008% in Florida is a crime. The state will prosecute offenders, but when a DUI results in an accident that causes serious injuries, victims have a legal right to also sue the drunk driver for their injuries and related costs.
The criminal consequences of a first DUI in Florida are up to 6 months in jail, a $500-$1,000 fine, a suspension of the offending driver’s license up to one year, and possibly an ignition interlock vehicle installation. However, if a driver had a BAC of 0.15% or more, or had a passenger under 18 years of age in their vehicle at the time of the incident, jail time is increased to 9 months. If an accident involved property damage or minor injuries, the jail time is increased to a year, and if there was an accident involving serious bodily injury, the jail time could increase to five years or more.
Note, though, that those consequences are brought by the state to punish the driver. They set an example, and they make sure that the drunk driver is held accountable, but they do nothing to compensate for the losses that the injured victims have suffered financially, physically, and emotionally. That is why injured victims of a drunk driving accident are legally entitled to hold the drunk driver accountable in civil court and sue the drunk driver for their injuries.
Someone who was severely injured by a drunk driver may face extremely expensive injuries that cost more than their PIP limits will cover (because Florida is a no-fault state, damages have to be recovered from each driver’s PIP limits – around $10,000). They may have to pay for costs associated with ambulance rides, hospitalization, doctor visits, surgeries, medications, imaging tests like MRIs and CT scans and X-rays, medical devices, therapy and rehabilitation, home health assistance, and more. All of those medical items can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, but those tangible costs are not the only costs injured accident victims have to worry about.
They may need to take a significant amount of time off work, meaning that they will miss out on wages, or need to switch roles/careers altogether. They may have injuries that will never fully heal, which will render them permanently disabled and require lifelong treatment, pain management, or assistance. They may never be able to (or temporarily be unable to) participate in their favorite activities or exercise. They may be forced to cancel travel plans that cannot be refunded, or miss out on important family moments. They may experience agonizing pain and mental suffering.
A criminal conviction does nothing to help recover these damages, but a personal injury lawsuit against the drunk driver and their insurance company can help recover maximum compensation. Drunk driving cases may be more straightforward if a criminal conviction has already been passed; if the state has already found the drunk driver guilty, it is more likely that the insurance company will settle because negligence and guilt have already been proven. However, sometimes insurance companies will try to settle for less than what your case is actually worth because that protects their bottom line.
That’s why if you were seriously injured by a drunk driver, you need an aggressive, experienced personal injury attorney on your side who will fight for justice to be served in full. Criminal justice should be served, but until you and your family have received financial restitution, justice has not been completed. The Florida Law Group works hard to advocate for our clients to receive maximum compensation. We have recovered millions of dollars for injured accident victims, earning ourselves a place in the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum, and we are not intimidated by challenging cases or large insurance companies! Our compassionate, expert team will help you understand your legal options, explain the true value of your case, and never let you settle for less than what you deserve after being injured in a drunk driving accident. There’s no risk – our contingency fee pricing model means that you don’t pay us anything unless we recover damages. Call today to schedule your free consultation!