Negligence Per Se Could Aid Florida Victims of DUI-Related Injuries
Florida boasts some of the world’s most desirable tourist destinations and some of the most vibrant nightlife, as well. Along with a state that has such an active bar and club scene comes drunk driving. Last year alone, over 30,000 drivers in the Sunshine State had charges of drunk driving filed against them. But there are consequences that are much more tragic than having a criminal conviction on a driver’s record. According to the United States Department of Transportation, alcohol plays a part in nearly 1,000 fatalities on Florida roads each and every year, and there are many more accidents that leave victims seriously injured with extremely high medical bills and other damages.
Consequences of DUI-Related Accidents
Under Florida law, there are two repercussions to operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs and causing an accident. First and as mentioned above, Florida criminal law dictates that driving under the influence of alcohol with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of over .08 is a felony. Second, those who are injured by a drunk driver also have the right to file suit and recover damages that may have been incurred. The second option, which allows the recovery of monetary damages, is particularly helpful because a DUI criminal conviction does not provide any civil relief for medical bills, lost wages, or pain and suffering.
When a plaintiff who is injured by a drunk driver sues that driver in court, he or she must show that the driver was negligent. Generally, in order to succeed on a negligence claim, they must prove that the driver breached a duty that was owed to the injured party. In general, a driver owes a duty to other motorists, pedestrians, and their own passengers. The legal doctrine of “negligence per se” dictates that a person has breached a duty of care if they are in violation of a safety statute and that the harm caused was the type of hard that was intended to be prevented by the safety statute.
In the case of injuries or death caused by drunk driving, the law against driving while under the influence would be considered the “safety statute”, because it is a law that was implemented in order to keep drunk drivers from causing injury or death while behind the wheel. With that prerequisite met, it must only be proven that the type of harm that was caused is the type of harm that was meant to be prevented through passage of the law. For the purposes of drunk driving, the type of harm that is meant to be prevented is bodily harm or death that is the result of the reckless operation of a motor vehicle due to the impairment caused by drugs or alcohol.
Once the above requirements of negligence are satisfied, the only remaining order of business is the determination of damages. Many people think that damages are limited to the amount of medical bills, but there are several very real expenses that are incurred or that will be incurred that are recoverable. For instance, if a victim missed work and lost wages or will lose wages in the future due to the accident, or if the victim incurred pain and suffering, he or she may be entitled to monetary compensation.
Because each car accident that is potentially caused by a drunk driver is unique and requires an investigation of all of the facts and circumstances, it is in your best interest to contact an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible if you or someone that you love has been involved in such an accident. The skilled professionals at the Tallahassee law firm of Barrett, Fasig & Brooks have decades of experience getting injured clients just like you what they deserve. Give us a call today to set up your free initial consultation at (866) 346-4186 or (850) 224-3310.