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New Year’s Eve Drunk Driving Accident Victims an Unfortunate Reality

Technically speaking, New Year’s Eve isn’t the worst when it comes to drunk driving. But after the clock strikes midnight – watch out. newyearseve

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports that half of all deadly car accidents on New Year’s Day involve a motorist who was deemed drunk, which usually means having a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher. The deadliest day of the year on our roads varies from year-to-year, but New Year’s Day is almost always in the top three. Research by the National Safety Council revealed that during the New Year’s holiday season in a recent five-year span, about 42 percent of traffic deaths were related to drunk driving. These figures include pedestrians who are struck by vehicles too. The fact that the holiday this year falls on a weekend could mean we’ll see even higher rates of personal injury and death on the roads.

For drunk driving accident victims, there may be several avenues of recovering compensation, depending on the circumstances. 

  • Liability Claims Against the Drunk Driver. This is probably the first type of claim we might explore. All drivers in Florida are supposed to carry personal injury protection (PIP) and property damage insurance to drive a car.  But as any insurance agent will tell you, bodily injury coverage is necessary if you don’t want to personally shoulder the financial burden of an injury or death. So we may make a claim against the driver and/ or his estate. Ultimately, the hope is that he or she does have liability insurance available to cover some injuries.
  • Uninsured/ Underinsured Motorist Coverage. This is auto insurance coverage that you, the drunk driving accident victim, would have for yourself. The fact is, one in four drivers in Florida doesn’t have any car insurance. Even more carry only the bare minimum, which, as we’ve explained, doesn’t help you out much. UM/ UIM coverage will provide coverage for your car accident injuries – or wrongful death, if you have lost a loved one – up to the policy limits. It will also provide coverage if you’ve been struck as a pedestrian. However, most insurers won’t simply cut a check simply because you asked. Typically, it is a process and hiring an attorney (who works on a contingency fee basis) can help you maximize your final payout.
  • Liability Claims Against the Owner of the Car. Although the federal Graves Amendment prohibits legal action against rental car companies, almost all other owners of vehicles – including private owners – may be separately and wholly liable for the injuries caused by someone using that car, whether that’s an employee or their teenager.
  • Dram Shop Liability Claims. Florida does not have a strong dram shop liability law, but it is worth exploring in some situations. F.S. 768.125 holds that a person who sells or furnishes alcohol to someone of legal drinking age generally isn’t liable for injuries caused by the intoxication of that person – including if that person decides to drink and drive. There are two exceptions: 1) The drinker was under the age of 21. 2)The drinker was habitually addicted to the use of alcoholic beverages and the server knew it. This is a case wherein we might sue the bar that served alcohol to the drunk driver. It could in some cases include the social host of a party where alcohol was served.

Claims may not be limited to these options. For example, if you are injured on New Year’s Eve while working, you might also have the option of workers’ compensation.

Call Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Attorneys for the Injured, at 1-800-646-1210.

Additional Resources:

Jan. 1 Is Worst Day for Drunken Driving, Analysis Shows, Dec. 31, 2011, By Christopher Jensen, The New York Times

More Blog Entries:

Minnegren v. Nozar – Proving Breach of Duty of Care in Crash Case, Nov. 13, 2016, Fort Myers Injury Attorney Blog