Driving under the influence is against the law and puts innocent lives at risk. If you’ve been involved in a car accident where alcohol or drugs may have played a role, it’s important to understand how a DUI collision can differ legally from other types of crashes.
The laws and insurance claims processes have distinct protocols for incidents involving impaired drivers compared to clear-headed accidents. The Fort Myers car accident attorneys of Viles & Beckman have handled hundreds of DUI cases and know the intricacies that make these crashes unique.
Let’s explore how liability, insurance payouts, and legal implications tend to vary when drugs or alcohol are present in a car accident.
Key Differences Between DUI Accidents and Other Types of Car Accidents
Drunk driving car crashes present unique challenges distinct from other accident injury claims. Victims of DUI collisions must understand how factors such as liability, insurance payouts, criminal charges, and trauma recovery differ significantly from incidents where no impairment existed.
Here are several key ways in which DUI accidents vary legally and practically from clear-headed crashes:
Liability is often more clear-cut since impaired driving constitutes negligence per se in most states. However, proving the at-fault driver’s level of intoxication can introduce forensic challenges. Technical problems such as breathalyzer malfunctions can cause questions of liability.
This can result in a complicated situation that puts your claim at risk. A car accident attorney with experience handling DUI claims can help handle such obstacles and protect your rights.
In DUI incidents, criminal charges typically come into play in addition to the civil process. Police officers and prosecutors may seek jail time, suspended licenses, hefty fines, and other penalties in DUI cases. The outcomes of these criminal cases can impact liability admissions or civil depositions.
Criminal proceedings against the DUI defendant take on added weight since outcomes could introduce material evidence or admissions in civil court later. Coordination is important.
Insurance companies look for any opportunity to minimize their payouts in car accident cases. After a crash involving drugs or alcohol, insurers may be more likely to challenge fault and try to reduce claim amounts.
Insurance claims processes may be subject to different contractual clauses and exclusions regarding intoxicated drivers. Victims must show clear proximate cause between the DUI and the accident.
An attorney can help ensure insurance companies provide appropriate compensation for your damages.
Victims of DUI accidents often experience greater physical, psychological, and emotional trauma than those in clear-headed crashes. This can lead to long-term medical expenses or lost wages that may be more difficult to calculate in a DUI case.
For a free legal consultation, call (239) 334-3933
What Are Dram Shop Laws?
Dram shop laws refer to laws that establish liability for establishments that serve alcoholic beverages, such as bars, restaurants, clubs, or liquor stores. These types of laws hold such commercial hosts legally responsible for certain injuries or damages that result from intoxicated patrons.
However, Florida does not have typical dram shop laws that hold establishments liable for serving intoxicated patrons who cause accidents. But, in certain cases, a drinking establishment can be held liable.
Here are a few key factors about dram shop liability in Florida:
- Florida law can hold servers/bars liable if they serve someone who is “habitually addicted” to alcohol and that person causes an accident while drunk.
- To be considered “habitually addicted”, the person has to have a repeated pattern of excessive drinking to the point of physical dependence on alcohol.
- There are limitations on liability, such as if the person who caused the accident was legally allowed to drink and not habitually addicted.
- Establishments can argue non-liability if the person consumed alcohol after leaving their premises.
- Damages awarded in dram shop cases have monetary caps – $500,000 for personal injury and $1,000,000 for wrongful death.
Further, anyone who serves or sells liquor to a person whom they know is under the age of 21 may be held liable for accidents.
A car accident attorney in Florida can help you understand these dram shop laws and how they may apply to your claim.
Contact a Car Accident Attorney for a Free Consultation Today
Because of the complex relationship between civil liability, criminal proceedings, insurance policies, and evidence pertaining to drunk driving, it is clear that DUI incidents pose particular obstacles. At Viles & Beckman, our experienced car accident lawyers have the experience and resources required to handle these complex matters.
We understand how to investigate liability and build a strong case regarding intoxication properly. We will work to hold negligent parties fully responsible while ensuring your rights are protected throughout the legal process.
Our team is here to help you obtain the maximum financial compensation possible for your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other losses. Don’t hesitate to contact us for a free consultation to discuss the specifics of your case.