Each year, drunk drivers kill hundreds of innocent drivers and passengers in Florida and they leave thousands more victims suffering from serious, and often life-changing, injuries. As someone who has been injured in a drunk driving accident or who has lost a loved one to the negligence of a drunk driver, you have rights, and it is important for both you and the community as a whole that you stand up for those rights in court.
Of course, most drunk driving cases never actually make their way to the courtroom. Like other types of car accident cases, drunk driving cases often settle out of court well before trial. This is due in large part to the fact that Florida law makes it clear that drunk drivers (and, in many cases, the establishments that serve them) are financially liable for their victims’ losses.
Drunk Driving Victims’ Rights Under Florida Law
1. Seeking Compensation from the Driver
As the victim of a drunk driver (either someone who was injured or lost a loved one), you have the right to seek financial compensation for your losses. However, it is important to note that your claim for compensation will be separate from any criminal prosecution in the Okaloosa County courts.
In order to pursue a financial recovery for your losses (which can include you or your loved one’s medical bills, your loss of income, and a variety of other types of financial and emotional harm), you will need to hire a personal injury or wrongful death attorney who can file a claim against the driver or the driver’s insurance company on your behalf.
2. Seeking Compensation from “Dram Shops”
In addition, under what are known as Florida’s “dram shop” laws, your attorney may be able to seek compensation from any establishment (such as a bar, restaurant or hotel) that served the drunk driver prior to the accident. As we have previously discussed, these establishments often carry substantial insurance to protect themselves and compensate victims in the event of a drunk driving accident.
3. Seeking Compensation from the Drunk Driver’s Employer
Finally, in some cases, victims will also have the right to seek compensation from the drunk driver’s employer. This is particularly common in accidents involving large trucks and other commercial vehicles. In drunk driving cases, employers can often be held liable not only for their own mistakes (such as hiring a driver with a record of incurring DUIs), but for their drivers’ poor decisions as well.
Have You Been Injured or Lost a Loved One in a Drunk Driving Accident? We Can Help.
A drunk driving accident can change your life in the blink of an eye. At Powell, Powell & Powell, P.A., we help accident victims and their families recover the financial compensation they deserve. If you would like to speak with one of our experienced Fort Walton car accident lawyers about enforcing your legal rights, call our Fort Walton law offices at (850) 682-2757 or contact us online today.