After a drunk driving accident, victims’ have rights. After a person sustains injuries or worse, loses their life as a result of a drunk driving accident, there’s a specific legal process. This ensures the victim has the ability to recover maximum compensation.
Financial compensation often accounts for pain and suffering. Pain and suffering often includes damages awarded alongside compensation. These damages can include compensation for wrongful death or catastrophic injury. Our 200th Shaked Law Resource article offers further insight into what happens legally, post drunk driving accident with injuries.
What goes into the legal side of a drunk driving accident?
No amount of money can ever replace the life of family member. However, financial compensation does provide stability and may be able to mitigate financially, the burden on a family. Compensation assists in paying for final expenses. These can be funeral and/or medical bills. Damages alongside compensation may cover lost wages that the victim was earning prior to their death. This type of compensation provides for the lives of surviving family.
This is why, after a car accident involving a drunk driver, retaining an accident lawyer with experience is necessary. Dealing with grief is difficult, so retaining a lawyer is something families may put off during mourning. However, a compassionate lawyer with experience in wrongful death cases will not cause a family any further anguish. Their ethics and experience allows them to move the case forward successfully.
Who comes to harm in drunk driving accidents?
The legal consequences that surround drunk driving accidents and the injuries (as well as wrongful deaths) that they cause can range from large fines and suspended licenses to serious prison time–each case is unique and should be handled by a lawyer who has taken hundreds of these cases to trial and won. Drunk driving accidents often cause the most harm to any passengers in the vehicle and other motorists on the road then they do to the drunk driver. This is because it is scientifically proven that the alcohol coursing through an intoxicated driver’s system prevents the body from becoming rigid during a collision, preventing them from sustaining many common injuries that occur during a motor vehicle crash such as TBI or Spinal Cord Injury.
What is Probable Cause in Personal Injury?
It’s important to know that while we will not delve into the criminal aspect of drunk driving within this particular writeup as we are focused on the importance of the Personal Injury perspective, based on the results of what’s known as a BAC test (a Blood Alcohol Concentration test), the principle of “probable cause” on the legal side does come into play.
Probable Cause should be well understood when one becomes the victim of an alcohol-related car accident. Especially in Florida. Probable Cause means an officer cannot arrest a driver without reasonable suspicion to first administer the standard Blood Alcohol Concentration test. However, if the results conclude that the driver has exceeded the legal Blood Alcohol Level, then, probable cause is present for an arrest. This would then be reasonable to conclude the driver is under the influence. At this point, the driver will arrested, charged with DUI and taken to jail.
More than just civil consequences
Probable Cause does not directly concern the area of Personal Injury Law as there is a criminal aspect to such litigation. Though, the principle itself can be indispensable when the victim or their family retains a lawyer who knows how to use Probable Cause in a civil manner.
A Board Certified lawyer will certainly take the time during the Discovery phase of the case to find out whether Probable Cause is a factor. Remember, when discussing a case, the lawyer wants the “book of your life”. This means leaving no detail out, no matter how small. This also means don’t exaggerate, don’t lie, and don’t embellish just to “impress” the lawyer. A lawyer with experience wants to represent a credible client. Anything less than credibility will kill the case!
What is the legality of BAC testing in Florida, and elsewhere?
After a drunk driving accident, the question of the Blood Alcohol Level of the driver comes into play. While this involves a primarily criminal aspect, it certainly plays a civil part in the Discovery phase of Personal Injury litigation.
Discovery in litigation simply means:
“[…]The entire efforts of a party to a lawsuit and his/her/its attorneys to obtain information before trial through demands for production of documents, depositions of parties and potential witnesses, written interrogatories (questions and answers written under oath), written requests for admissions of fact, examination of the scene and the petitions and motions employed to enforce discovery rights.”
There are two types of Blood Alcohol Testing:
- Mandatory BAC: some states require any motorist or passenger who dies as a result of a drunk driving-related accident to have a BAC. According to government websites providing this information, only half the states in the country have this requirement.
- Discretionary BAC: Many states have “discretionary” Blood Alcohol Concentration testing. This leaves the testing decision up to the medical examiner or other state official overseeing the case.
Experience is key
It’s important the Personal Injury lawyer has thorough knowledge of the laws surrounding Blood Alcohol Testing in their state. Without a knowledgeable lawyer, a victim may not receive the kind of justice they deserve. A “paper pusher” lawyer should never represent a victim and their family after a drunk driving accident. These lawyers do whatever possible to push clients out the door. That’s why they have a higher rate of unsuccessful cases.
Each state has different (or no laws) regarding BAC testing. It’s important that accident victims seek the best legal advice from a reputable lawyer who has not only “seen” several hundred drunk driving cases, but also has taken them to trial. This means the lawyer is going “in the trenches” from start to finish, and winning those cases.
Florida’s lack of BAC laws
As The Law Resource is based in South Florida, we can share that the state of Florida does not have specific BAC laws, and thus it is a state that leaves any testing requirements up to law enforcement and state officials who are placed in charge of the case. However, an officer on the scene of an accident must use their best judgement. If the officer has reasonable suspicion that a driver is drunk and/or under the influence of another illicit substance, they may use their professional discretion to require the driver to submit to a BAC.
A reminder to refrain from drunk driving
We should never make the decision to ignore a situation in which someone we’re with drinks and drives.They may insist they are “OK to drive”, but down drink after drink. In these situations, we, ourselves, may be liable for an accident they cause. If a driver causes someone else on the road bodily injury or is the cause of a fatality to another driver, pedestrian, or passengers in their car the laws are severe. Please refrain from getting behind the wheel after consuming even one drink. It’s not worth your life or the life of anyone on the road. When a designated driver cannot be relied upon, always use Uber, Lyft, or a taxi service to get home safely.