Drinking and driving is irresponsible. It is also against the law. However, as any Miami car accident lawyer can attest to, drunk driving accidents happen very frequently and have tragic consequences. Many innocent people suffer severe injuries or even lose their lives.
The recklessness of a DUI driver usually causes more devastation than the simple negligence of a distracted driver. This is why drunk driving accident victims suffer damages that exceed their PIP insurance coverage. Thus, the only option for recovering fair compensation is by suing the other driver’s insurance company and the drunk driver personally.
For this, you will need an experienced Miami car accident lawyer, who will prepare your case for court carefully. Also, you will get the support you need to prepare for the deposition and other important moments during the trial.
Florida Laws on Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol
In our state, it is illegal to drive on public roads with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or more. And the penalties for driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) are severe.
Penalties for a first DUI offense include:
- Fine between $500 and $1,000 ($1,000 to $2,000 if the BAC was 0.15 or higher or if a minor was in the car)
- Up to 6 months in prison
- Impoundment of the vehicle for 10 days, if it is not the only vehicle of the family
- Driver license revocation between 180 days and one year.
These penalties become stiffer for repeat offenders, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, reaching the maximum levels of:
- $4,000 in fines
- Up to 5 years in prison
- Driver license revocation for up to 10 years.
However, despite these severe penalties, drunk driving accidents are almost a daily occurrence in the Sunshine State. Statistical data show that one-third of all traffic fatalities are alcohol-related.
What Are the Average Damages If You Were Hurt in a Drunk Driving Accident?
As mentioned above, the total damages resulting from a DUI accident are usually very high. Your PIP insurance will cover up to $10,000. In the experience of any Miami car accident lawyer, this is just a fraction of the total damages accident victims suffered.
Let us take a closer look at these damages.
Economic damages can reach the range of hundreds of thousands if you suffered catastrophic, life-changing injuries, such as:
- Loss of limb
- Spinal cord injury
- Traumatic brain injury.
Thus, drunk driving accidents will accumulate various types of economic losses:
1. Medical Care Bills
Hospital stays, surgeries, and treatments save people’s lives but are also very expensive. By the time they are released from the hospital, accident victims have already accumulated tens of thousands of dollars in medical care costs.
These costs will continue, sometimes for the rest of their lives, if they are left with impairment or a disability, such as:
- Reduced cognitive abilities
- Loss of a limb.
2. Lost Wages
A person injured in a drunk driving accident may miss work for months or even longer. This puts their family in great financial difficulty, especially if the accident victim was the main breadwinner.
Thus, a Miami car accident lawyer will calculate all the wages lost by the person, as well as the future loss of income. This amount is an estimation of future losses, based on the person’s ability to return to their regular job or choose a less demanding (and less paid) position.
3. Loss of Earning Capacity
People who suffer permanent and extensive disability after a drunk driving accident will never be able to work, in any capacity. This is why the lawyer will estimate an amount of money representing the loss of earning capacity.
Non-economic damages, representing the compensation for pain, suffering, loss of consortium, and loss of quality of life are calculated in two ways.
- The per diem method: a compensatory amount per day is multiplied by the number of days a person suffered pain.
- The multiplier factor: the economic damages are multiplied by a factor ranging between 1.5 and 5.
In general, Florida does not allow personal injury victims to seek punitive damages. However, the Florida Statutes 768.736 section introduces a special exemption for drunk driving accidents.
After all, the actions of a drunk driver meet all the requirements given to juries in the standard instructions regarding the defendant’s conduct:
- Flagrant and gross to the degree that it shows reckless disregard for human life
- Showing an entire lack of care, proving that the defendant was consciously indifferent to the consequences
- Showed a reckless disregard for public welfare
- Showed a reckless indifference equaling an intentional violation of others’ rights.
As to the amount you may collect, you should know that there is a cap on the total amount of punitive damages you may collect. It is the higher amount between:
- Three times the economic and non-economic damages
Call an Experienced Miami Car Accident Lawyer Today!
We believe that every accident victim has the right to receive compensation for their injuries and economic damages. We also know that your own insurance is not enough to compensate you for all the financial losses you suffered.
We also believe that irresponsible drivers who intentionally put other people’s lives in danger should be held accountable for their actions. This is why we will use every shred of evidence available to build a solid case and win the maximum compensation you deserve.
However, you must know that you only have 2 years after the date of your accident (the statute of limitations) to take legal action against the drunk driver. For this reason, we advise you to schedule a free case review with us as soon as possible after the crash. This will give our lawyers sufficient time to evaluate the merit of the case and prepare it for trial.