Handling Drunk Driving Accident Claims in Gainesville, Florida
As home to Florida’s flagship university, we regularly see Gainesville headlines regarding students from the University of Florida (UF) causing accidents due to impaired driving.
Even though Florida law strictly prohibits driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs, millions of people continue to get behind the wheel with impaired faculties. If an intoxicated driver injured you or a loved one in a crash, you need qualified legal representation as soon as possible. Always get the medical attention you need, and then contact Meldon Law to discuss how a Gainesville drunk driving accident attorney might help.
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How Drunk Driving Leads to Serious Crashes in Gainesville
Alcohol is an intoxicating substance and depressant that causes drunkenness. Many people enjoy having some drinks with friends, for sporting events and other celebrations, or to simply relax. While drinking alcohol is perfectly legal for adults over age 21, driving after drinking too much is strictly against the law for important reasons.
Reports indicate that nearly 8,500 people died in drunk driving crashes in Florida over a recent ten-year period. That’s why authorities take drunk driving laws and enforcement seriously because of the high risks of drunk driving accidents and serious injuries.
Alcohol can have the following effects on a driver, among others:
- Blurred vision
- Lack of focus and awareness
- Impaired judgment
- Impaired spatial awareness
- Slowed reaction times
- Falling asleep
Drunk drivers are often much less aware of their surroundings, including where they are going and the traffic around them. If they need to slow down or stop to avoid a crash, their delayed reaction time might prevent them from hitting the brakes in time. Drunk drivers often do not know where they are going, which can result in highly dangerous wrong-way driving and head-on collisions. They also might drive dangerously slow, or they might decide to engage in reckless behavior like excessive speeding or drag racing.
No matter what the exact behavior that led a drunk driver to crash might be, the results can be devastating. Victims who suffer injuries due to drunk drivers deserve to fully recover for all of their losses from the driver who violated the law.
Gainesville Drunk Drivers are Typically Liable for the Injuries they Cause
Under Florida law, people who are injured by the negligence of others can typically recover compensation for their accident-related losses. In virtually any conceivable situation, drunk driving is negligent driving, so people who are hurt by drunk drivers can usually recover compensation for the damages they suffer.
Examples of losses that victims can often recover in drunk driving accidents include:
- Property damage
- Medical Expenses
- Physical and emotional pain and suffering
- Lost income
- Lost quality of life
In many cases, drunk driving accidents leave victims with injuries that will affect them for years or even decades to come. If you are in this position, any settlement that you accept should compensate you for your future losses in addition to the damages you have already incurred. In many instances, establishing these future losses requires working with medical or financial experts.
A lawyer familiar with Florida personal injury litigation will be able to demonstrate your future losses to the insurance company or the court, ensuring that your future losses do not go uncompensated.
Civil Claims vs. Criminal DUI Charges
After a drunk driving accident, police who arrive on the scene might identify that the other driver is intoxicated. They might perform roadside sobriety tests and, if officers see probable cause for drunk driving, they can arrest the driver on the spot. The driver may face criminal DUI charges, and a conviction can mean up to six months in jail, fines, and the suspension of their driver’s license. The penalties can be significantly greater if the driver caused injuries in a crash.
You might assume that the criminal process is in place to help victims of drunk drivers. While Florida does have services for the victims of crimes, and the judge might order a drunk driver to pay restitution, this is often not adequate assistance for victims with serious injuries. Instead, you likely need to turn to the civil court system for sufficient help.
A civil injury case generally begins with an insurance claim against the drunk driver. If the insurance process is not successful in obtaining a fair settlement, your attorney can file a personal injury lawsuit in civil court. The good news is that, if a drunk driver received a DUI conviction, the conviction can serve as automatic proof of liability.
However, even if there was no DUI conviction, you might still prevail in an injury claim, as the civil process differs significantly from the criminal process. Your skilled attorney can identify how you can best prove a drunk driver’s liability.
Do You Need a Gainesville Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer?
You might wonder whether it is necessary to have legal representation for your drunk driving accident claim, especially if it was obvious the driver was intoxicated. However, the process of seeking compensation is often much more complicated and stressful than you would imagine.
Insurance companies are notoriously difficult when it comes to offering the full settlement you deserve, and you should be focusing on your recovery from your injuries – not back-and-forth negotiations with the insurer. In addition, should your case need to go to court, the litigation process is extremely complex, and you want an experienced injury litigator on your side.
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Learn How a Gainesville Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer Can Help Today
At Meldon Law, understand how devastating the aftermath of an accident caused by drunk drivers can be, and our experienced team is committed to helping victims get the compensation they deserve. We will review the facts of your case at no cost to you and will never charge legal fees unless we recover compensation on your behalf. To schedule your consultation with a drunk driving accident lawyer in Gainesville, call our office today at (352) 373-8000 or contact us online.
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Founder of the Meldon Law FirmEmail Jeffrey Meldon