Have You Been Hurt in an Accident 
Caused by a Drunk Driver?

 Under Florida law, drunk driving is defined as impairment of normal faculties or unlawful blood alcohol or breath alcohol level of 0.08 or above.  

   Florida has the third most alcohol-impaired driving fatalities in the nation.

   

Hurt by an Accident Caused by a Drunk Driver?

Contact us today and get the legal help you need and deserve!

Call for Immediate Help (561) 275-5197

DID YOU KNOW? 

28 people in the U.S. die each day in motor vehicle crashes involving an alcohol-impaired driver.

The annual cost of alcohol-related crashes in the United States is over $44 billion dollars.

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Injured in an Accident by a Drunk Driver?

When you’ve been injured by a drunk driver, you need an experienced West Palm Beach car accident lawyer—our firm has been helping victims like you for over 20 years.

Being the victim of a drunk driver can be devastating. Victims often sustain agonizing, potentially life-threatening and life-altering physical and emotional injuries; face the prospect of financial ruin; and experience a catastrophic disruption to their entire way of life.

The team of traffic accident professionals at our West Palm Beach law firm understand what you’re going through. You have questions about how much your claim is worth and how long it’ll take to get a fair settlement.

Our experienced traffic accident lawyers will give you straight, simple answers to all your questions, including medical payment coverage, personal injuries, property damage, and lost income, as well as assist you with completing necessary paperwork and guide you every step of the way through the legal and insurance claims processes.

Florida is a "No-Fault" State

In a no-fault state like Florida, accident victims turn to their own insurance company first to pay for their medical bills, lost earnings, and the costs incurred for replacement services, i.e., any service needed due to the loss of ability caused by the accident such as housekeeping. This is true no matter which party or parties caused the traffic accident.

Do I Have to Call My Insurance Company?

Yes! Call your insurance company after any traffic accident, regardless of who’s at-fault. Florida is a so-called “no-fault” state. This means that after a crash you’ll have to file a claim against your own insurance company, regardless of which party or parties are at-fault.

You should also contact an experienced traffic accident lawyer immediately to help guide you through the no-fault claims process. It’s an extremely complex system comprised of a maze of highly technical rules, deadlines, and procedures that’s difficult for victims to successfully navigate on their own. An experienced traffic accident lawyer will eliminate the stress and take the guesswork out of dealing with the insurance company and ensure you receive the maximum compensation to which you are entitled.

Personal Injury Protection

Florida’s no-fault insurance law requires all motorists to carry a minimum of $10,000 in Personal Injury Protection (“PIP”) insurance. It’s this PIP insurance that covers all accident victims up to their policy limit no matter who is at-fault for the crash. Your PIP insurance coverage also protects you when you’re a passenger in someone else’s motor vehicle, a pedestrian, or a bicyclist in the event you sustain injuries in a crash involving a motor vehicle.

It’s extremely important to act promptly after your traffic accident. In order to make a successful PIP claim, you must receive initial medical treatment by an authorized healthcare provider within 14 days after the traffic accident. Failure to comply with this deadline along with the many other technical rules governing the PIP insurance claims process may result in a denial of benefits.

The total cost of medical expenses and lost income can quickly exceed the legally required minimum PIP coverage limit even in cases involving relatively minor traffic accidents. When PIP benefits are exhausted, you must then look towards other forms of insurance coverage, such as Medical Payments, Uninsured Motorists, etc., and possibly the at-fault parties involved in the crash. This interaction of the PIP claims process, other forms of insurance coverage, and the at-fault parties and their insurance companies results in a tremendous degree of complexity that easily overwhelms accident victims.

That is why it’s essential to have an experienced traffic accident lawyer working for you to guide you through the PIP insurance claims process and help ensure that you receive all the compensation to which you are entitled under the law.

Scott BondWest Palm Beach, Florida

I have unfortunately been in quite of a few motor vehicle accidents within the last couple of years and have gone through multiple attorneys. Prior to using Bill & his team I always ran into issues with previous attorneys in regards to chasing them for updates, non-returned phone calls, false promises, etc. Bill and his team welcomed my fiance and I when we visited their office after our accident and they made the whole process quick and painless. They sat down with us and took their time to explain the law's and limitations and didn't fill our heads with false promises of loads of money like the gimmicky attorneys on TV do, and every time they would do anything they would call or email us with an update. It's unfortunate that we met under these circumstances. I literally told my fiance today that I'd almost want to get into another fender bender just so we had a reason to talk to them again : )

View Actual Review on Google

Don’t Take on Insurance Companies by Yourself

The unfortunate reality is fair and reasonable compensation to help victims become whole again, i.e., placed in approximately the same physical, mental, and financial state as before the accident resulting in injuries and loss through financial compensation, is not simply given to victims automatically based on justice and fairness. In fact, insurance companies often aggressively fight even obviously legitimate claims.

The fact is insurance companies make money by denying claims and paying out as little as possible. This holds true for both the victim’s own insurance company as well as those of the other parties involved in the traffic accident. Victims are forced to take the initiative and proactively seek out and fight for fair and reasonable compensation within a system that is strategically stacked against them.

This entails going up against insurance companies and a variety of other very sophisticated parties all with self-serving interests in paying as little compensation as possible, regardless of the severity of injuries to victims or how despicable the behavior of reckless drivers may be. Insurance companies are notorious for establishing claims procedures and institutional mechanisms that make it as difficult as possible for victims to obtain fair compensation.

They have been known to deliberately make the claims process as complex and frustrating as they can in the hopes that victims will feel overwhelmed, give up, and accept lowball settlement offers. This strategy is highly effective with respect to victims who don’t have an experienced traffic accident lawyer on their side.

To make the situation even worse, victims are faced with this seemingly impossible task at a time when they are likely at their most vulnerable and desperate point in their life. Even under the best of circumstances, it is virtually impossible for the average person alone to successfully battle insurance companies and their army of lawyers and paid expert witnesses. No matter how obviously deserving of compensation a victim may be, no insurance company is going to simply provide a fair and reasonable settlement offer to the victim merely because he or she deserves it.

Don’t let the insurance companies decide what your claim is worth. And don’t let them bully you into giving up valuable rights or accepting less than what you are entitled to under the law.

Contact us today for a free initial consultation and case evaluation. We have the experience, expertise, and resources to successfully take on the insurance companies.

Level the Legal Playing Field for Drunk Driving Car Accident Victims

Victims do not have to take on drunk drivers, insurances companies, defense lawyers, and their array of paid experts by themselves. In the American legal system, victims of drunk drivers are entitled to their own lawyers and experts following an accident. This right to legal representation can effectively level the playing field for victims. But victims must exercise extreme care in choosing a lawyer whose experience, temperament, and expertise are well-suited to handling drunk driving cases in Florida, which are notoriously complex, technical, and emotional.

In general, it is best to seek a lawyer who specializes in traffic accident cases, especially one with extensive experience specifically representing victims of drunk drivers. You would not turn to your primary care physician to perform open heart surgery on you or a loved one; instead, you would naturally go to a surgeon who specializes in performing open heart surgeries. It is similarly advisable to retain a traffic accident lawyer who specializes in drunk driving cases. Our renowned West Palm Beach traffic accident lawyers have well over 50 years of combined experience in Florida successfully representing victims of drunk drivers.

If you or someone you know has been the victim of a drunk driver, contact us now to learn how our compassionate and highly successful team of West Palm Beach traffic accident lawyers can help you recover everything to which you are entitled under Florida, as well as federal, law.

There is no charge for our professional case evaluation, so contact us today worry-free to begin the process of preserving your rights, obtaining fair and reasonable compensation, and holding the drunk driver responsible for your suffering accountable for his or her actions.

What is Drunk Driving?

Criminal Case

Under Florida law, drunk driving is a specific type of criminal offense under the DUI statute, which includes impairment by alcoholic beverages, chemical substances, and controlled substances. Under the statute, a driver is guilty of driving under the influence (for our purposes, drunk driving) if he or she “is driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle” and the driver: 

  • Is under the influence of alcoholic beverages to the extent that the person’s normal faculties are impaired;
  • has a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 or more grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood; or
  • has a breath-alcohol level of 0.08 or more grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath.

What this means is that under Florida law a person is guilty of DUI (drunk driving when alcohol is involved) if it’s proven that his or her “normal faculties” are impaired while driving or in physical control of a vehicle.

There’s also an alternate method of proving a driver is guilty of DUI under the statute. That is, if the driver’s breath or blood alcohol concentration is 0.08 or over he or she is guilty of DUI (this method is often referred to as DUI per se). With this method, the prosecutor doesn’t have to prove that the driver’s normal faculties were actually impaired. As long as the driver’s breath or blood alcohol concentration is 0.08 or over, he or she is guilty of DUI.

Civil Case

Although drunk drivers who cause injury or death may eventually be ordered by the criminal court to pay restitution to victims as part of their punishment, compensating victims is not the primary goal of the criminal case brought by the state.

Instead, victims must pursue compensation for injuries or wrongful death through a civil lawsuit. In the civil case, victims can seek compensation from the drunk driver, insurance companies, owner of the vehicle the drunk driver was operating, any individual or business that illegally furnished alcohol to the drunk driver, and other parties who contributed to the accident.

Drunk driving is a form of negligence. Establishing legal liability is often complex. In general, a victim must show:

  • 1. the driver had a duty to the victim to exercise caution;
  • 2. the duty was breached; and
  • 3. as a result of that breach, the victim was injured.

In drunk driving cases, establishing the duty is straightforward.  Florida statutes mandate that drivers operate vehicles in a controlled and responsible manner while sober.  The victim must then demonstrate the alleged drunk driver breached that duty, and as a result of that breach of duty, the victim suffered injury. 

What is the unlawful blood or breath alcohol level in Florida?

Under Florida statute a breath or blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or over while driving or in physical control of a vehicle results in a presumption of impairment.

Alcohol impairs a person’s ability to operate a motor vehicle safely. Simply put—the more you drink, the greater the impairment. The quantity of alcohol necessary to become impaired varies according to how fast you drink, your weight, your gender, and amount of food in your stomach. That is, multiple factors can affect whether your normal faculties are impaired. 

The below table from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describes the various degree of impairment at different blood alcohol concentration (“BAC”) levels.

Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC)*

Typical Effects

Effects on Driving

02%
About 2 alcoholic drinks

Some loss of judgment

Relaxation

Slight body warmth

Altered mood

Decline in visual functions (rapid tracking of a moving target)

Decline in ability to perform two tasks at the same time 

.05%
About 3 alcoholic drinks

Exaggerated behavior

May have loss of small-muscle control

Impaired judgment

Usually good feeling

Lowered alertness

Release of inhibition

Reduced coordination

Reduced ability to track moving objects

Difficulty steering

Reduced response to emergency driving situations

.08%
About 4 alcoholic drinks

Muscle coordination becomes poor

Harder to detect danger

Judgment, self-control, reasoning, and memory are impaired

Concentration

Short-term memory loss

Speed control

Reduced information processing capability

Impaired perception

.10%

About 5 alcoholic drinks

Clear deterioration of reaction time and control

Slurred speech, poor coordination, and slowed thinking

Reduced ability to maintain lane position and brake appropriately

.15%
About 7 alcoholic drinks

Far less muscle control than normal

Vomiting may occur 

Major loss of balance

Substantial impairment in vehicle control, attention to driving task, and in necessary visual and auditory information processing

*BAC measurement:  The number of drinks listed represents the approximate amount of alcohol that a 160-pound man would need to drink in one hour to reach the listed BAC in each category.

Holding Third Parties Accountable: Dram Shop Law, Social Hosts, and Dangerous Instrumentality

In certain very limited circumstances, third parties may be held responsible for the actions of a drunk driver who causes injuries. Such third parties include bartenders, liquor store owners, and parents who host parties with alcohol for underage partygoers.

Florida Dram Shop Law

One method of holding third parties accountable for the injuries caused by a drunk driver is through the use of the dram shop law. This law imposes civil liability on sellers of alcoholic beverages for the negligent acts of their intoxicated customers. Florida is among the 42 states with a dram shop law; however, Florida’s law is not as victim-friendly as those in many other states. Unlike in many states with a dram shop law, Florida does not hold an establishment, vendor, or social host responsible for serving alcohol to an individual who already appears to be visibly intoxicated.

Under the Florida Dram Shop Law, victims injured by drunk drivers can file a civil action against a person who willfully and unlawfully sold or furnished alcohol to (1) a person who is under 21 years of age or (2) a person who is known to be habitually addicted to alcohol. Therefore, the situations in which a third party can be held liable for the actions of a drunk driver under Florida’s dram shop law are very limited.

Social Hosts

Under Florida law, social hosts who serve alcohol at their functions are provided with relatively robust protection against liability for injuries to victims caused by their intoxicated guests. In Florida, a social host is held liable only when minors are involved. That is, if the social hosts knowingly served or allowed underage individuals to consume alcoholic beverages at their social event, then the hosts can be held liable for injuries caused by intoxicated, underage guests.

Dangerous Instrumentality

Another way of holding third parties liable for the actions of drunk drivers is through the doctrine known as ‘dangerous instrumentality.’ It’s a common law doctrine that holds the owner of an inherently dangerous tool or instrumentality liable for injuries caused by its operation. The Florida Supreme Court has ruled that the doctrine applies to motor vehicles. So if an owner (or lessee) of a motor vehicle authorizes and permits a person who ends up causing injury to others as a result of driving drunk to use it, the owner (or lessee) can be held liable.

Criminal and Civil Liability

Drunk driving can result in both criminal as well as civil proceedings against the offender. A drunk driver can face years in prison and thousands of dollars in fines if convicted in a criminal case. In addition, if property has been damaged and/or people have been injured, the victim(s) can sue the driver for damages in a civil lawsuit. Whether a driver has been charged criminally, though, does not have any bearing on a victim’s right to file suit against the driver in civil court for damages since the two types of cases proceed independently of each other in entirely separate court systems.

However, if the driver has been charged and/or convicted in criminal proceedings, that can serve as extremely compelling evidence in a civil case. This is especially true in the case of a conviction since the burden of proof is much greater in a criminal case than a civil case. On the other hand, if the driver has not been criminally charged, that fact alone does not necessarily mean that the victim does not have a viable or even strong case against the driver. Remember, the burden of proof for a conviction in a criminal case is much greater than the burden necessary for victory in a civil case for damages.

But this type of case comparison and analysis can be extremely complex and nuanced, so in order to protect your rights, you should consult with an experienced lawyer who specializes in these types of cases before making any decision to settle, pursue, or not pursue a civil case

Higher Damage Awards and Settlement Amounts for Drunk Driving Cases

Potential Damages Awarded in Drunk Driving Accident Cases

Damage awards in cases involving drunk driving accidents can be quite substantial, especially when very high speeds and other reckless driving behaviors are present. They are generally described as ‘enhanced value’ cases. These types of drunk driving crashes can implicate a legal concept commonly referred to as ‘aggravated negligence,’ which frequently leads to much higher damage awards and settlement amounts for victims than accidents involving ordinary negligence.

Virtually all traffic accidents are the result of negligence by at least one of the parties involved. For example, when a driver rear-ends the vehicle in front because the driver was following too closely, his or her negligence was the cause of the accident. But the driver’s behavior wasn’t an egregious and wanton disregard for the safety and welfare of others. It was an instance of ordinary negligence. In contrast, for example, in a situation where a driver is traveling 20+ mph over the speed limit, weaving in and out of traffic and cutting off other drivers in the process, passing other vehicles on the shoulder of the road, and eventually causes a serious crash, the driver’s behavior will likely be characterized as reckless. As such, the degree of negligence involved will also likely be classified as ‘aggravated,’ meaning the damage award or settlement amount for the victims will likely be much higher than if the driver had been guilty of ordinary negligence.

Simply put, cases involving aggravated negligence will generally result in a sizable damage award or settlement amount. Our traffic accident lawyers have been successfully handling aggravated negligence cases on behalf of clients for decades. We have the experience and expertise to help you with your aggravated negligence claim

Damages Awarded Depend on the Facts of the Case

Naturally, the specific types of damages and amounts that may be awarded depend upon the facts and circumstances of each individual case. There are literally dozens of factors that contribute to the settlement value or jury award amount of an injury claim. As such, what someone you know received or the amount an injured victim claims to have obtained in a law firm’s advertisement will have virtually no bearing on the actual value of your claim. That is why it is so important to consult with a knowledgeable traffic accident lawyer who specializes in reckless driving cases in order to protect your rights and provide a fact-based, experience-driven assessment of the potential value of your injury or damage claim.

Otherwise, without an objective and reasonable valuation of your case based on an experienced traffic accident lawyer’s expert opinion, you could unwittingly accept a settlement offer that is dramatically lower or holdout in vain for an offer that is unrealistically higher than the generally accepted valuation range of your case based on all the facts and circumstances involved. In either scenario, the very real possibility exists that you will not be fairly and fully compensated, if at all, for your injuries, personal property, out-of-pocket expenses, and/or lost income.

Below is a list of the most common types of compensatory damages awarded in drunk driving accident cases. As the name implies, compensatory damages are intended to compensate the injured party and help him or her return to the physical, emotional, and financial state he or she was in prior to the injury. They are generally classified as either Noneconomic Damages or Economic Damages.

Noneconomic Damages

  • Bodily injury and associated pain and suffering
  • Disability and physical impairment
  • Disfigurement
  • Loss of capacity for the enjoyment of life
  • Mental anguish (if associated with a physical injury)

Economic Damages

  • Past lost income
  • Future lost income
  • Past medical expenses
  • Future medical expenses
  • Replacement value of damaged or lost personal property
  • Mileage (travel to medical appointments and pharmacy)

Punitive Damages

In some limited traffic accident cases, punitive damages may also be recovered in addition to any compensatory damages. This type of damage award is generally available only when the offender’s conduct is especially reprehensible and reckless. Punitive damages are typically available only when the offender acted with malice, willfulness, moral turpitude, or reckless indifference for the safety and welfare of others. That is, punitive damages are not available in cases involving only simple negligence, which is present in virtually every traffic accident. The offender’s behavior must go beyond that of simple negligence before punitive damages are even a possibility.  

Some examples of behavior that can potentially lead to punitive damages include scenarios in which the offender:

  • Is charged with a crime in connection with the accident such as manslaughter
  • Drives at an extremely reckless speed
  • Fails to stop at the accident scene
  • Is voluntarily intoxicated
  • Knowingly fails to maintain vehicle in a reasonably safe condition that leads to the accident

The primary purpose of punitive damages is not to compensate the victim for any actual loss; rather, it is to punish and deter the offender’s particularly heinous behavior. Although punitive damages are intended to punish the offender, their purpose is not to bankrupt him or her. The offender’s financial situation is taken into consideration when determining the amount of punitive damages. Under Florida law, for most personal injury cases, punitive damages are capped at either three times the amount of compensatory damages or $500,000, whichever is greater.

It’s important for victims to understand that simply because punitive damages may be available to them in light of the facts involved they are not awarded automatically. Victims must specifically plead (or request) and prove entitlement to them. If you’ve been seriously injured in an accident due to the reckless actions of someone else, you need to have an experienced traffic accident lawyer on your side, so you receive everything to which you are entitled under the law.

West Palm Beach Drunk Driving Accident Lawyers

When you’ve been injured by a drunk driving , you need an experienced West Palm Beach car accident lawyer—our firm has been helping victims like you for over 20 years.

Being the victim of a drunk driving can be devastating. Victims often sustain agonizing, potentially life-threatening and life-altering physical and emotional injuries; face the prospect of financial ruin; and experience a catastrophic disruption to their entire way of life.  

The team of traffic accident professionals at our West Palm Beach law firm understand what you’re going through. You have questions about how much your claim is worth and how long it’ll take to get a fair settlement.

Our experienced traffic accident lawyers will give you straight, simple answers to all your questions, including medical payment coverage, personal injuries, property damage, and lost income, as well as assist you with completing necessary paperwork and guide you every step of the way through the legal and insurance claims processes.

Contact Us Today for Your Free Case Evaluation!

Don’t try to take on the insurance companies by yourself—get one of our experienced West Palm Beach traffic accident lawyers on your side and working hard for you.

Contact us today and get the legal help you need and deserve!

Scott BondWest Palm Beach, Florida

I have unfortunately been in quite of a few motor vehicle accidents within the last couple of years and have gone through multiple attorneys. Prior to using Bill & his team I always ran into issues with previous attorneys in regards to chasing them for updates, non-returned phone calls, false promises, etc. Bill and his team welcomed my fiance and I when we visited their office after our accident and they made the whole process quick and painless. They sat down with us and took their time to explain the law's and limitations and didn't fill our heads with false promises of loads of money like the gimmicky attorneys on TV do, and every time they would do anything they would call or email us with an update. It's unfortunate that we met under these circumstances. I literally told my fiance today that I'd almost want to get into another fender bender just so we had a reason to talk to them again : )

View Actual Review on Google

★ ★ ★ ★ ★
5 / 5 stars
I have unfortunately been in quite of a few motor vehicle accidents within the last couple of years and have gone through multiple attorneys. Prior to using Bill & his team I always ran into issues with previous attorneys in regards to chasing them for updates, non-returned phone calls, false promises, etc. Bill and his team welcomed my fiance and I when we visited their office after our accident and they made the whole process quick and painless. They sat down with us and took their time to explain the law's and limitations and didn't fill our heads with false promises of loads of money like the gimmicky attorneys on TV do and every time they would do anything they would call or email us with an update. It's unfortunate that we met under these circumstances. I literally told my fiance today that I'd almost want to get into another fender bender just so we had a reason to talk to them again : )