Civil Recovery for Drunk Driving Accidents is Florida
While drunk driving is a crime, criminal penalties are not the only thing that people who drive drunk have to worry about. If someone driving drunk injures another person then the injured party may be able to sue the drunk driver and recover damages for injuries and other hardships. This article is an introduction to what you need to know if you are injured by a drunk driver and are considering pursuing a claim.
Standard of Proof
The standard of proof in a civil case is significantly lower than in a criminal case. In a civil case, the plaintiff only needs to prove that the defendant was likely intoxicated. Criminal courts require there to be more proof of intoxication for a DUI or DWI charge. Since these involve two different standards of proof, someone can be found not guilty of criminal DUI charges while also being found liable for damages in civil court. Conversely, if someone is found guilty of the crime of DUI, it is that much easier to prove the civil case.
Proving intoxication in Florida can be relatively straightforward because if an officer has probable cause that a driver is intoxicated, then the officer can perform a Breathalyzer or other test of blood alcohol content.
Comparative Negligence Defense
Florida is a comparative negligence state. This means that the injured person’s recovery is diminished by the amount of their own negligence. If the injured sober driver was speeding and that contributed to the accident, then the sober driver may not be able to recover fully, or at all, depending on how much they contributed to the accident. For example, if the speeding driver was 10% at fault of the accident and the drunk driver was 90% at fault for the accident and the sober driver’s injuries total $500,000, then the drunk driver will be ordered to pay $450,000.
What Damages Can Be Recovered
Victims of a drunk driver can sue for a wide array of damages, including lost wages due to being too injured to work, medical expenses and hospital bills, and pain and suffering. Florida also allows those injured in an accident with a drunk driver to sue for punitive damages. Punitive damages are damages in excess of actual damages that are intended to deter this egregious conduct.
Contact Our Clearwater Drunk Driving Accident Attorneys
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident with a drunk driver, you should contact a skilled drunk driving accident attorney as soon as possible. Our experienced drunk driving accident attorneys at Roman & Roman in Clearwater, Florida can help you with your civil case for damages.