Injured By Drunk Driver?
The Whisler Law Firm has extensive history with personal injury and automobile accident cases. We’ve helped dozens of victims who thought they had no more compensation to receive find the support they deserved after a devastating accident, and we want to help you too. Call 833-529-5677 or visit our website to chat live with a member of our team or request a free consultation to review your case.
Drunk driving laws across our entire nation make it illegal to drive with a blood alcohol content (BAC) level at or above 0.08%. For drivers under 21, “zero tolerance laws” make it illegal to drive with any measurable level of alcohol in their system. And yet, in the state of Florida, on average there are roughly 5,000 alcohol-involved crashes per year, and over 300 of them result in fatalities.
The largest number of drunk driving deaths occur in the 25-29 age group, with the 55-59 age group coming in second. Drunk driving continues to be the top cause of fatal traffic accidents in Florida, averaging around 26%. This shows that even if you never drink a drop before getting behind the wheel, there are still others on the road who lend to these troublesome statistics, putting you at risk. But there are options for you to pursue if you’re injured in an automobile accident caused by a drunk driver.
Qualifying as a Victim
If you’ve been involved in an automobile accident caused by a drunk driver, under Florida law you are considered the victim of a criminal act. This act may entitle you to compensation for the damages you suffer in the accident through something called the Crimes Compensation Act. Certain allowances are provided for victims of DUI crashes, but unless they’re directly pursued by the victim, they frequently go unclaimed.
The reasons victims may overlook further compensation vary, but it’s often due to the belief that if you’re an insured driver, your insurance as well as the at-fault driver’s insurance company will cover everything you need, from damages to your car to medical bills from your injuries. But if you’ve ever dealt with an insurance company after an accident, you’re likely aware of just how unhelpful and uncaring they can really be. After a drunk driving accident, you may have many more damages to be compensated for if you meet certain qualifications and use legal help to pursue them fully.
Florida’s Bureau of Victim Compensation has created specific qualifications to be met by victims of a drunk driving incident in order to receive further funds under the Crimes Compensation Act:
- The crime — in this case, the crash caused by a DUI — must be reported to law enforcement within 72 hours of the incident’s occurrence.
- The victim must have suffered a personal physical injury. In the case of the victim suffering death, those family members who file for damages on their behalf must demonstrate the emotional, monetary, or other damages they’ve suffered as a result of losing their loved one.
- The application for filing the claim must be filed with the state within one year of the date of the crime. There are, however, qualifications allowing for extension to two years (have your case reviewed before assuming you qualify for an extension).
- The victim or those filing on their behalf must fully cooperate with all law enforcement, the State Attorney’s office, and the Attorney General’s office.
- The victim must not have also been engaged in any unlawful activity at the time the DUI crash crime was committed.
- The victim must not have contributed in any way to the DUI crash crime. Contribution could include, for example, reckless driving that prompted the crash.
- The victim must have no record of any felony convictions of any crimes.
If you qualify as a victim under the above stipulations and are suffering from damages that aren’t covered by the insurance companies involved, you may be eligible to seek further compensation with the help of an expert legal team. And if you aren’t sure if you meet all the criteria, you should still contact our team so we can review your case and circumstances and guide you in the right direction.
Your Options to Pursue
Once your case has been deemed strong enough to pursue for further compensation, you have several benefits that may be available to claim. That means that instead of paying for ongoing care, treatment, and damages out of your own pocket, you can hold the at-fault driver’s insurance company liable for paying the bills and reparations you need as you attempt to normalize your life again. These kinds of damages could include:
- Loss of wages. If your injuries have caused you to miss work, you may be eligible to receive compensation for time and pay missed.
- Loss of support. If the absence of the deceased victim directly affects your life in some measurable way, such as through monetary or emotional support, you may be awarded for those losses.
- If the court finds that your injuries have caused you permanent disability for which you need lifelong support, care, and monetary expenses, you may be eligible to receive the benefits you need to maintain that care.
- Funeral and burial expenses. If you’ve lost a loved one to a drunk driving incident, the at-fault driver’s insurance company may be held responsible to pay for any necessary end-of-life services.
- Treatment expenses. Much like disability benefits, if you need medical attention and/or ongoing treatment to address your injuries for any length of time, they could be covered as well.
- Mental health counseling. Severe auto accidents can cause mental and emotional injury as much as they can cause physical injury. If your mental health has affected your daily life, you and your loved ones may receive benefits to help address it.
- Property loss reimbursement. In this case, your property is most likely the car that was involved in the accident, but in some circumstances, it could be other personal belongings that were destroyed, or even damage to your home if it was struck by the at-fault driver.
There is a lot of damage that can stem from a single, split-second incident on the road when it’s been fueled by negligent drinking and driving. If you’ve been the innocent victim of one such incident, don’t let your potential compensation go unclaimed. Hold the guilty party responsible for their actions. Call 833-529-5677 or schedule a free consultation now and let The Whisler Law help!