Drunk Driving Accidents
Everyone knows the dangers of drunk driving. Everyone knows that driving while intoxicated is against the law. Everyone knows that thousands of lives are needlessly cut short and tens of thousands more are shattered by serious injuries caused by drunk drivers every single year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 8,476 people were killed in crashes involving a drunk driver in Florida between 2003 and 2012.
But everyone also knows that people still get behind the wheel after one too many – or five too many – drinks.
When that happens and innocent victims are injured or killed, the pain, suffering, and loss that follows are compounded by the anger of knowing how avoidable and senseless such a tragedy was. At Alley, Clark & Greiwe, our experienced Tampa car accident lawyers work with individuals and families whose lives have been upended by a drunk driving accident. We fight tirelessly on behalf of drunk driving accident victims to get them the compensation they need and the justice they deserve.
What to Do If You Are Hit By a Drunk Driver
As is the case with any auto accident in which someone may be hurt, the first thing you need to do if you’ve been hit by a driver you suspect was drunk is call 911 and get immediate medical attention. Exchange contact and insurance information with the other driver if possible, get the names and contact information for anyone who saw the accident, and take pictures of the scene and your vehicle if you can.
Stay on the scene until police and first responders arrive. Cooperate with police who are investigating the accident, and tell them matter-of-factly what happened, but make no admissions of fault.
How Claims Against a Drunk Driver Work
Driving while intoxicated is an extreme form of negligence. In that sense, you can hold the other driver accountable for your injuries just as you could if the other driver had engaged in other reckless conduct, such as speeding or tailgating.
The difference is that the other driver will likely also be facing serious criminal charges for driving under the influence (DUI). How the criminal case against the driver proceeds can impact your claim for compensation against the driver.
Your car accident injury lawsuit can proceed at the same time prosecutors seek a conviction against the driver. In consultation with you, your car accident injury lawyer will make the strategic decision as when best to file your claim. Sometimes, it may make sense to let the criminal case play out first. That’s because if the driver is convicted of DUI or pleads guilty, that criminal liability can go a long way to establishing the civil liability necessary to recover damages.
DUI as Evidence of Negligence
In a Florida car accident lawsuit of any kind, an injury victim needs to prove that the other driver was negligent, and that the driver’s negligent conduct caused the accident, injuries, and damages. Proving negligence can be the hardest part of a car accident lawsuit. But when police, law enforcement, and the driver have provided powerful evidence of negligence through the prosecution and/or conviction of the driver for DUI, it can make proving negligence significantly easier.
The evidence Florida prosecutors us to obtain a drunk driving conviction – police reports, field sobriety tests, blood, breath, or chemical tests, witness statements, and the like – can also be used in your personal injury lawsuit to prove negligence. If the driver is ultimately convicted of DUI, that conviction can be used as conclusive evidence of driver negligence.
Even if the other driver is found not guilty or is not prosecuted for DUI, any evidence collected by the police that shows alcohol in the driver’s system can be used to prove negligence. Just because a driver’s blood alcohol content was below the legal limit does not mean he or she was not negligent or impaired.
Alley, Clark & Greiwe: Tampa Drunk Driving Accident Injury Attorneys
As car accident injury attorneys, we have seen first-hand the tragedy and loss drunk drivers can leave in their wake. If you have been a victim of such illegal and irresponsible conduct, we can help.
Please call one of Alley, Clark & Greiwe’s Tampa car wreck lawyers today at (800) 840-0977 or contact us online to arrange for your free initial consultation and case evaluation. We look forward to assisting you.