Drunk Driving Accidents
Despite legislative efforts to increase the penalties for driving under the influence, this dangerous behavior is still one of the leading causes of automobile accidents in Florida and across the nation. Serious injuries and tragic deaths can result from an accident in which a driver is impaired by alcohol or drugs. If you or a family member has been involved in a DUI crash in Stuart or the surrounding area, the car accident attorneys at Donaldson & Weston can help you explore your options.Pursuing Compensation from a Drunk Driver
Under Florida Statutes § 316.193, an individual may be found guilty of driving under the influence if he or she has a blood alcohol or breath alcohol level of .08% or above. (There is a lower limit for drivers under 21.) Florida statutory law also prohibits people from operating motor vehicles while under the influence of chemical substances or controlled substances.
Although the criminal justice system may require an offender to make some form of restitution as part of his or her punishment, the main method of recovering compensation for injuries sustained in a drunk driving accident is through a negligence lawsuit in civil court. Most negligence lawsuits have four basic requirements: duty, breach of duty, causation, and damages. The first requirement – showing that the defendant owed the plaintiff a legal duty of care – can usually be met through reference to the general rules of the road that require drivers to keep a proper lookout and exercise an appropriate amount of caution.
Proof that a defendant was under the influence at the time of the accident likely will show a breach of the duty of due care. The link of causation means that the victim would not have been hurt if the defendant had not breached the duty of care by driving drunk. Compensatory damages may consist of both economic and non-economic costs and losses, ranging from lost income and property damage to medical bills, the costs of future treatment, and pain and suffering.
In addition to seeking compensatory damages through a negligence lawsuit against the driver who caused the crash, it may be possible for an injured plaintiff or the family of a deceased accident victim to make additional claims. For example, punitive damages may be appropriate when a defendant has acted particularly egregiously. The employer of a drunk driver who was acting in the course and scope of his or her job duties at the time of the accident also may be held liable under a theory of vicarious liability.
All personal injury lawsuits, including those arising from drunk driving accidents, are subject to a statute of limitations. This rule sets the outer time limit for filing a lawsuit, after which a potential claim will usually be dismissed on procedural grounds. Attorneys also need time to properly investigate an accident before filing a case, so it is best to consult a knowledgeable Stuart car crash lawyer as soon as possible after you have been hurt.Contact an Attorney after a Motor Vehicle Collision in Stuart or Beyond
Many people suffer permanent, life-changing harm because someone else made a foolish decision to get behind the wheel while intoxicated. If you or a loved one has been involved in one of these devastating accidents, you may have legal rights to assert. Our motor vehicle collision lawyers are dedicated to assisting Stuart residents and other car crash victims. Call Donaldson & Weston at (772) 266-5555 or contact us online to set up a free consultation. We also represent people in Port St. Lucie, West Palm Beach, and Jupiter, as well as other cities throughout St. Lucie, Martin, and Palm Beach Counties.