Drunk driving is a major problem in Florida. Florida has the third-highest number of auto accident fatalities in the nation according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA); and, in a study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in 50 Floridians self-reported drinking and driving within the past 30 days.

For Florida drivers and passengers who obey the law, these statistics can have devastating consequences. Drunk drivers pose serious risks to all motorists in their vicinity: Over the past decade, alcohol-involved accidents have accounted for nearly a third of all auto accident fatalities. This number is staggering, and it underscores the importance of holding drunk drivers accountable. For accident victims and their families, this starts with taking legal action to recover just compensation.

Taking Legal Action After a Drunk Driving Accident

As someone who has been injured or lost a loved one in an accident involving a drunk driver, it is important to understand the differences between the civil and criminal justice systems. If a drunk driver is arrested and charged with driving under the influence (DUI), this does not mean that he or she will be held financially accountable for the victim’s losses. A DUI conviction can result in fines, loss of driving privileges, jail time and other penalties, but the criminal justice system is not designed to provide compensation to victims and their families.

In order to recover financial compensation, an accident victim or his or her surviving loved ones must file a claim separate from the drunk driver’s criminal case. While this may eventually mean filing a lawsuit in civil court, most drunk driving cases settle through the insurance claims process. In fact, if you suffered only minor injuries in an accident involving a drunk driver, then you may be limited to recovering personal injury protection (PIP) compensation under your own auto insurance policy. This is because Florida is among the limited number of states with a “no-fault” insurance law that limits victims’ ability to seek compensation from drunk drivers to cases involving permanent and fatal injuries.

Of course, many drunk driving accidents do result in permanent and fatal injuries; and, for those who are suffering due to drunk drivers’ careless mistakes, additional compensation is available. If the drunk driver is adequately insured, securing this additional compensation will generally mean filing a claim under his or her bodily injury liability (BIL) insurance policy. If not, then compensation may be available through uninsured/underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage; or, under appropriate circumstances, it may be possible to hold a third party partially or fully responsible.

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About Powell, Powell & Powell, P.A.

Powell, Powell & Powell, P.A. is a Florida personal injury law firm that represents auto accident victims in insurance claims and civil litigation. If you have been injured or lost a loved one in a drunk driving accident and would like more information, we encourage you to call 850-682-2757 or contact us online for a free consultation.