Articles Posted in Drunk Driving Accidents

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The brother of a Central Florida man killed in a DUI accident is suing two bars and their employees for serving alcohol to a man who was known to be habitually addicted – the same man who after leaving those establishments got behind a wheel drunk and killed his brother.drunk driving

The claim is based on Florida’s dram shop law, which is codified in F.S. 768.125. Florida’s dram shop liability law is less favorable to plaintiffs than statutes in other states, but it does allow compensation under a certain set of circumstances. Although there are some states in which bars, restaurants and other places that serve alcohol can be liable just for serving to someone who appears to be intoxicated, Florida only allows liability in DUI cases where:

  • The driver was served alcohol despite being under the age of 21;
  • The driver was known to be habitually addicted to alcohol.

Both scenarios of course assume that the injury or damage was caused by or resulted from the intoxication of such a minor or person.  Continue reading →

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The family of a 58-year-old grandmother who died in a crash last month has filed a civil injury lawsuit against the 40-year-old driver, a principle at a local high school. They are seeking justice in a case where it seems apparent the at-fault driver won’t face criminal charges for allegedly driving drunk. beer

The case is an odd one that started when a 5,000-pound truck fell from the sky and on top of the victim’s sport utility vehicle. The mother of four and grandmother of two was traveling home on the highway when the Ford F-150 truck crushed her SUV. The truck was driven by a 40-year-old high school principle. He reportedly struck an impact barrier with such force that it lifted the truck off the ground and made it go airborne, according to Fox News Latino. Defendant and his passengers walked away relatively unscathed with only minor lacerations and bruising.

Police did not charge defendant with DUI. He admitted to investigating officers he’d just left a local tavern, where he’d been with friends. He declined to undergo a breathalyzer test and he refused to undergo a sobriety test. However, at least two officers on scene said he didn’t appear to be drunk. Refusal to submit to a breathalyzer is illegal in Florida due to implied consent laws, but police can’t force anyone to breathe into a machine. Per a U.S. Supreme Court decision (Missouri v. McNeely), police would have to seek a warrant to conduct a blood draw, but they would need probable cause. A prosecutor called to assess the situation found there was not enough probable cause to ask a judge to force defendant to submit a drug sample.  Continue reading →

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The Alabama Supreme Court affirmed a $15 million dram shop verdict in favor of four plaintiffs – three seriously injured and the mother of one killed – in a drunk driving accident eight years ago. budweiserbeerbottles

Decedent was a 13-year-old boy. Two older teen passengers were seriously injured, as was the teen driver.

The 19-year-old behind the wheel had purchased liquor from a local convenience store that had a reputation among youth for selling booze to underage consumers. The crash, which occurred in Tuscaloosa, occurred when driver careened off the road and struck a tree. Although the passengers were wearing their seat belts, the sheer force of impact caused them to be ejected anyway.

The case was significant for a few reasons. First, it is believed to be the largest dram shop lawsuit verdict affirmed by that state’s supreme court ever. Secondly, it affirms the fact that punitive damages – which are intended to punish a wrongdoer for egregious or especially reckless actions – can be sought even a plaintiff is comparatively at-fault (as the driver was in this case). It also allows that punitive damages to be determined on a per-plaintiff basis, rather than as a whole and then divvied up. Finally, it affirms the right of dram shop plaintiffs to pierce the corporate veil in order to hold business owners personally liable for such damages, which combined with the hefty punitive damages creates a substantial incentive to prevent such action in the future. Continue reading →

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A new report released by the Governors’ Highway Safety Association reveals that drug use by drivers is a significant and growing concern among traffic safety advocates. marijuanaroaches

This is particularly true as a growing number of states (23) have approved marijuana for medicinal use and four for recreational use, while others have significantly relaxed criminal sanctions against possession. Plus, the rates of prescription drug abuse has increased substantially, considering the number of painkillers dispensed nationally has quadrupled in just the last 16 years. Just from 2007 to 2014, the number of drivers who tested positive for marijuana or illegal drugs rose from 12.4 percent to 15.1 percent.

So while the incidence rate of drunk driving has declined significantly, the rate of drugged driving is climbing. In fact, the percentage of drivers killed in car accidents who tested positive for drugs is 40 percent. That’s about as many as tested positive for alcohol. And a recent annual roadside survey conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found 22 percent of drivers tested positive for at least one medication or drug. Continue reading →

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If a person is seriously injured or killed as a result of the negligence of another, the injured person or surviving loved ones can seek damages in civil court. There are two types of damages: Compensatory and punitive. gavel211

Compensatory damages are those meant to indemnify a person for a particular loss or injury. There is no special process for obtaining these damages, as they are intended to replace what was lost. Punitive damages, on the other hand, are supposed to punish a defendant for grossly negligent acts and to deter similar behavior in the future.

Punitive damages are not available in all cases, as F.S. 768.72 points out. Requests for punitive damages have to be approved by the trial judge, and there has to be evidence of gross negligence, such that there was a lack of disregard for human life or safety, a lack of care by defendant who was consciously indifferent to it or intentional violation of the victim’s rights. Continue reading →

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Ignition interlock technology has rapidly gained popularity within court systems nationwide as a way to hold convicted drunk drivers accountable when they are once again granted driving privileges.beerhand1

But government researchers want to take it a step further. They are looking to implement alcohol detection systems that would be available in vehicles for an added upfront fee. While it wouldn’t be mandatory (yet) and drivers would have to pay extra, researchers say many drivers would welcome the opportunity to purchase technology that could save them a lot of heartache – and money.

The two systems being developed by the government-funded Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADDS) focuses on detection of a driver’s blood-alcohol concentration through either breath or touch.

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She was 20-years-old the night she reportedly got drunk with work friends, Tweeted to her boyfriend she was “2 drunk 2 care” about an argument they were having and then got behind the wheel of a car. She drove wrong way down the Sawgrass Expressway in Coral Springs traveling nearly 100 mph. She crashed into another vehicle head-on, killing the two occupants – both 21-year-old women. drunkdriving

In a deposition for a civil lawsuit brought against her by the victim’s families, the women, also facing 30 years in prison for DUI manslaughter, said she would take her own life in a second if it meant bringing back the two who were lost. Not a day goes by she doesn’t think of it, she told attorneys, and “It will never go away.”

Those expressions of remorse come amid one of the most dangerous times of the year for drivers. December has one of the highest rates of drunk driving injuries and fatalities, according to Florida traffic officials. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported between 830 and 1,000 people die every year in December as a result of drunk driving. That’s why this month is also recognized as National Impaired Driving Prevention Month.

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Dram shop laws in most states allow victims of certain drunk drivers to seek recompense from those who illegally supplied alcohol to minors or intoxicated patrons who go on to cause injury or death. coldbeerglassonwhite

However, there are sometimes allowances for the drunk driver (or surviving family) to also seek compensation for injury or wrongful death under these same statutes. The standard varies widely from state-to-state. Some states have expressly forbidden drunk drivers from tort claims relating to their own negligent acts. Others have expressly allowed it, indicating damages can be reduced by the apportionment of comparative fault.

Florida does not bar such claims, though success can be challenging.

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Hit-and-run accidents are an ongoing threat to Florida’s pedestrians, bikers and motorists. Florida has one of the highest hit-and-run rates in the nation. In a recent case, police are on the search for the driver of a vehicle that struck and killed three women. Police reports indicated that the suspect was traveling at high speeds in a Chrysler when it struck a car carrying three women at the entrance of a parking lot. The crash caused the gas tank to rupture and the vehicle was consumed in flames. According to Reuters, all of the women were single mothers and left behind a total of six children.

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This is a tragic case that should raise awareness about the danger of hit and runs and the challenging nature of accident investigations and liability. In any accident case, it is important to consult with advocates who can help to identify responsible parties and hold negligent drivers accountable. Our Palm Beach car accident attorneys are dedicated to protecting the rights of individuals and families who have been impacted by injury or death. We are dedicated to raising awareness to prevent future accidents and to ensuring that negligent drivers are held liable, both criminally and in civil court.
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As a general rule, civil courts both in Florida and across the country have held liability for third-party actions is not allowed, save for rare circumstances.
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In crash cases, our Fort Lauderdale car accident attorneys know there are a myriad of exceptions. These include cases where a car owner can be held liable for negligently entrusting their vehicle to someone they knew or should have known would not operate it safely. It could also extend to situations where a person served alcohol to a minor, who subsequently got behind the wheel and caused injury. Employers, too, might be held vicariously liable for crashes involving employees if it can be proven the company failed to properly vet, train or supervise the worker.

But should a third-party who aids in the legal defense of another be held liable?

Initially, a circuit court judge in Miami-Dade answered affirmatively to this question in Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of South Florida, etc. v. Bermudez, et al.. However, Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal reversed, finding such a precedent opened the door for a host of troubling scenarios, though the justices noted sympathy for the plaintiff and questioned why the tribe wouldn’t simply pay what was owed. Still, there was no legal basis, the court ruled, to force the defendant to pay.
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