Occasionally our Fort Lauderdale car accident attorneys are asked, “A drunk car hit me? Now what?”
First we need to clarify: While the car may have been the object that struck you or your vehicle, it was in fact the driver who was impaired. It is also the driver who would be held accountable if you’re asking what to do if a “drunk car hit me.”
The good news is Florida law enforcement officials launch regular crackdowns on drunk drivers over holiday weekends – necessary because drunk driving accidents in Florida tend to be higher over these high travel periods. NBC-2 in Cape Coral-Fort Myers on Florida’s Gulf Coast announced numerous police departments plus the Lee County Sheriff’s Office would be launching their own, Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign over the recent Thanksgiving holiday weekend, a national effort repeated by law enforcement agencies across the country. Heightened enforcement has been shown to reduce drunk driving crashes, injuries and wrongful deaths in Florida, but of course they don’t eliminate them entirely.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report 2.1 percent of Florida drivers admit to driving after having too much to drink, higher than the national average of 1.9 percent.
What To I Do if a Drunk Car Hit Me in Miami?
If you are struck by a drunk driver in Fort Lauderdale or anywhere else in Florida, recognize that while the fact of the other driver’s impairment won’t automatically win your case, it will likely make it easier to collect compensation. That’s because all drivers have a responsibility to use reasonable care with regard to operation of their motor vehicles. One does not need to prove violation of the law to establish lack of reasonable care, which is negligence. However, when someone does violate a traffic safety law, such as F.S. 316.193, Florida’s drunk driving law, it is considered negligence per se, or as a matter of law.
Further, depending on the circumstances, you may have an opportunity to pursue punitive damages, something not available in most other crash-related injury lawsuits. F.S. 768.72 stipulates that punitive damages typically aren’t allowed in civil injury claims (almost never in car accident injury claims). However, if plaintiff (that’s you) can establish a reasonable case showing that the defendant’s action showed reckless disregard for human life and safety or a conscious indifference to the consequences of one’s actions or the potential impact to public welfare or equated to an intentional violation of the right to be free of an unreasonable risk of injury, then punitive damages may be warranted. Drunk driving can legally meet this criteria.
It is not uncommon in drunk driving injury lawsuits for defendants to allege comparative negligence, stating that you shared some portion of the blame even if the other driver was drunk, but this will not strip you of your right to seek compensation. However, it could decrease the total amount of damages to which you are entitled, which are proportionately reduced based on fault.
If you are asking, “What do I do if a drunk car hit me?” take the following steps:
Call the police so that the crash is properly documented.
- Cooperate with responding officers.
- Collect as much information and evidence from the scene as possible. (Understandably, this will not be possible if you are seriously injured.)
- If you are not transported by ambulance to a hospital, seek medical treatment as soon as possible.
- Call a Fort Lauderdale car accident attorney who can help you determine your rights and best course of legal action.
Call Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights. Now serving Orlando, West Palm Beach, Port St. Lucie and Fort Lauderdale.
How Florida law allows drunk drivers to get behind the wheel again and again, Nov. 20, 2018, By Paul LaGrone, ABC Action News
More Blog Entries:
Personal Injury Compensation Guidelines in Florida Hired Driver Accidents, Oct. 28, 2018, Drunk Car Hit Me in Fort Lauderdale Injury Attorney Blog