Articles Posted in Drunk Driving

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empty mugWhen someone is hurt in a Florida drunk driving accident, the injuries are often severe. In many Florida DUI accidents, the intoxicated motorist is traveling at a high rate of speed, traveling the wrong way down a one-way road, or entering an intersection without yielding to a traffic signal. These accidents may result in a high-speed, direct-impact collision.

Regardless of the specific type of accident, anyone who is injured in a Florida drunk driving accident can pursue a claim for damages against the responsible parties. The obvious party to name in this type of claim is the drunk driver. However, liability may not stop there. Under Florida’s Dram Shop law, an accident victim may be able to pursue a claim for compensation against the individual or business who provided alcohol to the intoxicated driver.

Florida’s Dram Shop law is contained in Florida Statutes section 768.125, and provides two situations in which a third-party can be responsible for injuries to a person who was injured due to the third party’s decision to provide to another.

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Drunk and drugged driving are two of the leading causes of fatal Florida car accidents. In fact, each year, there are over 400 fatal car accidents in Florida involving alcohol intoxication. In addition, there are another nearly 300 fatal accidents involving drugged driving.highway

Of course, driving while under the influence of either drugs or alcohol is illegal, and anyone who is caught doing so – even when an accident is not involved – can face criminal penalties. However, when a Florida drunk driver causes a collision with another motorist, the drunk driver can also be held liable for any injuries that result through a personal injury lawsuit.

In order to succeed in a personal injury lawsuit, a car accident victim must be able to establish that the at-fault driver violated a duty of care that they owed to the accident victim and that this violation resulted in their injuries. Normally, this involves establishing four elements:  duty, breach, causation, and damages. However, if the defendant violated certain non-traffic statutes – such as the DUI statute – the accident victim can take a “shortcut” when proving their case through the doctrine of negligence per se.

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Despite decades-long efforts by the state and federal governments, drunk driving remains a major problem on Florida roads. Indeed, in the 10-year period between 2003 and 2012, there were almost 8,500 Florida drunk driving deaths. This amounts to about 850 drunk driving accidents a year or 70 per month.

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When a driver gets behind the wheel after having too much to drink, they are putting not only their own life in jeopardy but also the lives of countless others. It has been shown that drunk drivers are more likely to speed, act aggressively, fall asleep, get distracted, or make poor judgment calls, all of which can further increase the chance of causing an accident.

Florida law allows for victims of drunk driving accidents to seek compensation for their injuries through a Florida personal injury lawsuit. In some cases, the fact that a driver was intoxicated will make an accident victim’s recovery process easier because the driver is presumed to be negligent, due to the fact that drunk driving is specifically prohibited by law.

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Despite the millions of dollars spent by the federal and state governments on drunk driving prevention programs, as well as the harsh criminal penalties that drunk drivers face when convicted, Florida drunk driving accidents are still commonplace. In fact, Mothers Against Drunk Driving reports that there are nearly 800 drunk driving deaths in Florida each year. This represents over a quarter of all traffic fatalities. Sadly, this number represents a 15% increase over previous years.

Legal News GavelDrunk drivers place the safety of everyone on the road in jeopardy when they get behind the wheel. In too many cases, South Florida drunk drivers cause otherwise preventable traffic accidents that result in serious injuries or death.

Due to the prevalence of drunk driving and the danger that drunk driving presents, Florida lawmakers have enacted several laws that the victims of a South Florida drunk driving accident can use to seek compensation for their injuries. For example, under Florida law, the fact that a driver was intoxicated at the time of an accident can be evidence of that driver’s negligence in a subsequent South Florida personal injury lawsuit. Additionally, under the state’s Dram Shop Act, some accident victims may be able to hold the establishment that served the drunk driver responsible for their injuries as well as the driver.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court issued a written opinion in a Florida drunk driving case requiring the court to interpret the state’s reverse dram shop liability statute. The court was tasked with determining whether the plaintiff presented sufficient evidence to survive the defendant’s motion for summary judgment. Ultimately, the court concluded that the plaintiff’s evidence was sufficient, and it ordered the case to proceed toward trial or settlement negotiations.

Legal News GavelFlorida’s Reverse Dram Shop Statute

In Florida, establishments that serve alcoholic beverages are generally not liable for any accidents caused by their customers once they leave the premises. However, under the Reverse Dram Shop Liability statute, a plaintiff may proceed with a case against the serving establishment if they can show that the establishment served alcohol to a patron whom they knew to be “habitually addicted to alcohol.”

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was the surviving family member of a woman who was killed by a drunk driver. At the time of the accident, the driver’s blood-alcohol content was .302, which is nearly four times the legal limit of .08. Prior to getting into the car, the driver was at the defendant country club.

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Late last month, a suspected drunk driver hit and killed one Florida teen and injured several others in a hit-and-run accident. According to a local news report, the accident occurred in Polk County, near the intersection of Allegheny Road and Athbasca Drive.

Legal News GavelEvidently, the motorist was operating a Kia Rio when witnesses say he leaned forward in the driver’s seat, losing control of the vehicle and driving off the road’s right shoulder. A few moments later, several children who had recently exited the bus at their designated bus stop were struck. An investigation after the accident indicated that there was no pre-collision braking, and the children all seemed to be off the road at the time of the collision.

After the car struck the children, the driver apparently regained awareness and proceeded to flee the scene. A witness to the accident followed the driver, who later crashed into another vehicle before coming to a stop. Police arrived on the scene and arrested the driver, whose blood-alcohol content was approximately twice the legal limit. The driver was charged with several offenses, including DUI manslaughter and leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death.

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Drinking too much can be very dangerous, and excessive alcohol consumption leads to about 88,000 deaths each year in the United States. But while most people are at greater risk of injury while drinking, some people may actually be shielded from liability under Florida law.

Legal News GavelUnder Florida statute 768.36, a plaintiff cannot recover damages if at the time of the accident, the plaintiff was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and the plaintiff is determined to be more than 50 percent at fault for the accident as a result of his intoxication. That means that a person who is injured may not be able to recover compensation from an at-fault party who contributed to their injury if the injured person was under the influence at the time. In order for this doctrine to apply, the plaintiff has to be under the influence to the extent that the person’s “normal faculties were impaired,” or the plaintiff had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 or higher. Of course, this leaves room for interpretation.

Under the statute, alcohol means any distilled spirit or any beverage with 0.5 percent or more alcohol by volume. In addition, the term “drug” refers to any controlled substance but does not include lawfully obtained drugs or medications that are taken according to a valid prescription. A drug also does not include a medication sold over the counter and taken in the recommended dosage. The statute arises from the concept of “comparative” or “contributory” negligence, which generally holds that a plaintiff’s recovery may be limited or barred by the plaintiff’s own negligence.

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Erick Santana & Michael CecereAccording to an October 12, 2016 CBS News article, the number of teenagers involved in deadly car crashes is rising for the first time in nearly a decade. In 2015, there was a 10-percent increase in teen driving deaths. “In fact, teenage drivers are more than one-and-a-half times more likely than adults to be involved in a deadly crash,” said personal injury attorney Erick Santana, a founding partner at Cecere Santana.

To help prevent fatal accidents involving teens, Santana and Cecere Santana co-founder Michael Cecere share the following three tips:

No. 1: Always wear your seat belt. “Of the teens who died in passenger vehicle crashes, approximately 55% were not wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash,” said Cecere. “Research shows that seat belts reduce serious crash-related injuries and deaths by about half.”

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Drunk driving has been plaguing the country for decades, and Florida is no exception. According to a statistic released by Mothers Against Drunk Driving, in Florida alone there have already been almost 700 fatalities caused by drunk driving in the year to date. This figure represents about one-third of all fatal traffic accidents.

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In hopes of curbing drunk driving, Florida legislators passed a Dram Shop Law decades ago to help hold the establishments that serve liquor to those who later go on to cause an accident responsible for their actions. Dram Shop Laws have been around for many years, and about 30 states have some form of them. In its most basic form, the law allows for the victim of a drunk driving accident to hold the establishment financially responsible for their injuries.

Of course, in order to prove a Dram Shop case in Florida, the plaintiff must prove certain elements. Specifically, Florida allows Dram Shop liability in two circumstances. The first is when an establishment provides alcohol to a minor, who then goes on to cause an accident. This scenario is fairly cut-and-dry. However, the second situation when Dram Shop liability may attach is when someone “knowingly serves a person habitually addicted to” alcohol, and that person goes on to cause an accident. Of course, this is more open to interpretation and may allow for a broader range of liability.

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Drunk driving is one of the most dangerous things someone can do while behind the wheel of a car. And in fact, the statistics reflect this with 676 deaths this year in Florida alone due to drunk and drugged driving. These represented about 28% of all fatal traffic accidents across the state.

Legal News GavelIt is for good reason, then, that the State of Florida makes drunk and drugged driving illegal. Any time a driver gets behind the wheel of a car with a blood-alcohol content of .08 or greater, they are driving drunk. Additionally, whenever someone is under the influence of any amount of illegal drugs, they are in violation of the same law. Even in cases in which a person is taking prescription medication, they may still be found to be liable if that medication influences their ability to safely drive the vehicle they are operating.

Not only is intoxicated driving illegal, but it may also be the basis of a civil lawsuit for monetary damages. Accident victims of drunk driving crashes can file a lawsuit against the drunk driver, seeking compensation for their medical expenses, time away from work, and any pain and suffering they endured as a result of the accident. These lawsuits, called negligence lawsuits, are common in drunk driving situations.

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