In 2021, there were 401,076 motor vehicle crashes in Florida. That comes out to around 1,000 accidents per day — a distressingly common occurrence.
While there are many possible causes of a car accident, one of the most common is drunk driving. If you have been injured by a drunk driver, you may be wondering if you can pursue compensation for your injuries or how to determine who is liable for the accident. In this article, we will detail what can happen if you’re injured by a drunk driver, what steps you need to take, and possible civil penalties.
What Can Happen if You’re Injured by a Drunk Driver
Alcohol can significantly impair a driver’s reflexes and judgment. Their behavior is often unpredictable and they have a lack of control over their vehicle. As a result, they cause accidents that would typically be avoidable.
When you encounter a drunk driver on the road, you are likely to get injured due to their negligence. Under Florida personal injury law, you have the right to sue them for personal injury compensation in Port St. Lucie.
Common Injuries in Drunk Driving Accidents
Here are some of the most common injuries victims of drunk driving accidents face:
- Severe lacerations (facial injuries that may cause permanent disfigurement or scarring)
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Neck and back injuries (whiplash, spinal cord injuries, and paralysis)
- Limb injuries (fractures, broken bones, crush injuries, and amputations)
- Internal injuries (organ damage, typically the kidneys, lungs, and the spleen)
- Soft tissue damage (stretched or torn tendons, ligaments, and muscles)
- Burns (due to friction against a seatbelt or an airbag, contact with heated metal or dangerous chemicals, or fires/explosions)
Steps You Need To Take After a Car Accident Port St. Lucie
Being injured by a drunk driver can be incredibly disorienting, overwhelming, and painful, especially when it feels like the accident happened out of nowhere. To best protect your safety and your legal rights, make sure that you follow these steps immediately after an accident:
- Seek medical attention — Regardless of when, where, why, or how the accident occurred, your first priority should always be to seek medical care. This is especially important if the accident was severe. Timely treatment can prevent your injuries from worsening and also provide essential medical records for a personal injury claim later on.
- Report to the authorities — Reporting the accident to the police allows you to acquire a police report with the facts of the incident. For drunk driving cases, in particular, it’s important to notify the police as drunk driving is a criminal offense. The police will likely carry out a breathalyzer test.
- Document everything — While waiting for help, you should do all that you can to document the scene of the accident. Take photos and videos of the crash and the surrounding area. Ask potential witnesses for their contact information. Make sure to exchange contact information and insurance information with the other driver.
- Consult a car accident lawyer Port St. Lucie — As the victim of a drunk driving accident, you have the right to compensation for your injuries. A car accident lawyer can help you understand your rights and how best to move forward.
Do I Need a Car Accident Lawyer?
If it is your first time dealing with any sort of legal process, the prospect of filing a personal injury claim can be intimidating. While you can certainly attempt to go at it alone, you do not have to. If you are worried about legal fees, you should be aware that most personal injury lawyers operate on a contingency basis. This means you only have to pay legal fees if they win your case.
A good car accident attorney in Port St. Lucie can help you with everything required to build a solid case — gathering evidence, contacting witnesses, determining liability, calculating damages, negotiating with insurance companies, and representing you in court, if necessary. Often, the opposing party will take you more seriously if you have an attorney. This increases your chances of securing maximum compensation for your medical expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering.
Possible Civil Penalties for Drunk Driving
One important aspect that is present in a drunk driving accident is the possibility of civil penalties for the other driver. In Florida, driving under the influence (DUI) can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances.
If it is their first or second time receiving a DUI charge, it might only be a misdemeanor, which carries smaller fines and shorter jail sentences. However, if they caused serious bodily injury or death with their DUI offense, they can be charged with a felony. For bodily injury, it will likely be a felony of the third degree, which involves fines of up to $5,000 and prison sentences of up to five years. For death, it will likely be a felony of the second degree, which involves fines of up to $10,000 and prison sentences of up to fifteen years.
A DUI charge can work in your favor, as insurance companies will be more motivated to settle out of court. If your case goes to trial, they know that it is highly likely that the judge or jury will order them to pay a significant sum for your compensation.
Get the Assistance of an Experienced Attorney in Port St. Lucie Today
If you have been injured in a car accident in Port St. Lucie, you deserve experienced and compassionate legal representation in your fight for compensation. At Fetterman & Associates, our car accident lawyers have fought for the best interests of many clients over the years, and are ready and willing to fight for yours. Call us or contact us online for a free, no-obligation consultation about your case today.