Articles Posted in Drunk Driving Victims

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A series of high-profile drunk driving collisions has authorities concerned as we head into the heart of the holiday season.

This week, First Coast News reported the Florida Highway Patrol arrested a 46-year-old woman accused of causing a collision that killed a Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office employee. The victim was driving with her husband and two children when the defendant’s vehicle reportedly struck the family’s car, causing it to rollover.

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In South Florida, CBS4 Miami reports a Coral Springs firefighter is facing a DUI manslaughter charge, after allegedly driving into a group of motorcyclists on the Florida Turnpike after attending a St. Patrick’s Day parade. Closer to home, a Lee County man was arrested and accused of drunk driving Thanksgiving weekend after a crash at Summerlin Road and Pine Ridge Road. He told officers he thought he was in an Uber on the way to jail.

Our Fort Myers injury lawyers support Mothers Against Drunk Driving and other education and prevention efforts to keep intoxicated motorists off our roads. In addition to alcohol intoxication, driving under the influence of drugs has increasingly become a concern.

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A life insurance company has been ordered by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit to pay a $200,000 medical bill for an insured who reportedly crashed his dirt bike while under the influence of alcohol.

The life insurance carrier outright denied claimant’s bid for benefits, citing policy exclusion for injuries that arise from the “illegal use of alcohol.” However, the district court ruled – and the appellate court affirmed – this provision, when read and interpreted according to its ordinary meaning, refers to things like drinking alcohol while under the age of 21 or imbibing against a court order. It is inherently different, the court ruled, than engaging in illegal conduct after one has legally consumed the alcohol. That would mean actions like drunk driving would still be covered; it’s not the drinking that was against the law, it was the actions one took after drinking – something not specifically excluded in the policy language. drunk driving accident lawyer

This case is interesting for a few reasons. The first is that it is not your typical car accident lawsuit in that it involves dirt bikes and it happened off-road. Secondly, this was not a plaintiff claiming injury as a result of someone else’s negligence. He conceded his own misconduct caused his injuries. Nonetheless, he argued his life insurance company should be responsible to cover his damages.

According to court records, plaintiff was 22-years-old – of the legal drinking age – five years ago when he and his friend drank alcohol and then proceeded to ride their dirt bikes in a field near their home. While engaging in this, the two crashed. Plaintiff suffered serious injuries. It was ascertained that his blood-alcohol level shortly after the crash was almost nearly twice the legal limit for use of an off-road vehicle in that state. Continue reading →

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In the midst of all the holiday festivities is a lurking risk on our roads: Drunk drivers. drunk driving injury lawyer

A recent analysis by SCRAM Systems (the company that sells DOT-approved alcohol and location monitoring devices) notes that while during most of the year, 28 percent of highway deaths are related to alcohol, that figure spikes to 40 percent during the holidays. Over Thanksgiving, it’s 35 percent, Christmas, 41 percent, and on New Year’s Eve/ Day, it’s 58 percent.

What’s more, 16 percent of adults surveyed say they drink more than usual over the holidays. Half said alcohol plays some role in their family’s holiday gatherings and an astonishing 96 percent say they either went to work hung over after a party or know someone who did. Bear in mind: Being hungover can sometimes still be considered impaired driving, even if your blood-alcohol concentration falls below the per se limit of 0.08, as outlined in F.S. 316.193. The statute allows for a criminal conviction any time a person is “under the influence of alcoholic beverages… to the extent the person’s normal faculties are impaired.”  Continue reading →

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Many South Florida DUI injury and death cases handled by our dedicated personal injury lawyers occur simultaneously with a pending criminal matter. The two processes are totally separate, and generally do not impact the other. car accident

The purpose of a civil trial is to make whole (to the extent possible) the victims of a defendant’s action or inaction. Conversely, the purpose of a criminal trial is to penalize a wrongdoer for violating the criminal code of laws. While some criminal cases result in a defendant being forced to pay restitution, that is not the primary goal of the criminal procedure.

That’s why we encourage Florida victims of drunken driving to speak to an experienced injury attorney as soon as possible after the crash. Information gleaned in the course of the criminal investigation could impact the civil case as well.

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A man in New Jersey is suing two bars he alleged served him alcohol in the hours before he was involved in a single-vehicle motorcycle accident in which he was seriously injured. According to news reports, the 28-year-old plaintiff alleges he was downing Tequila at two local bars, and left both sites intoxicated. Around 3:20 a.m., upon leaving the second site, he reportedly crashed his motorcycle, suffering a severe leg injury. His blood-alcohol level was below the 0.08 threshold, but he claims he was still impaired (an instance our own Florida law recognizes as possible in F.S. 316.193). Further, he says his breath-alcohol test wasn’t given until several hours after the crash. His criminal charge was dismissed. drunk driving accident

There are of course many people who take the stance that drunk drivers deserve what they get. We won’t dispute that in some cases, but as drunk driving accident lawyers, we used this example to point out the viability of such a claim here in the Sunshine State. Based on the facts we know of this case, it would not succeed in Florida – and not because drunk drivers can’t sue for injuries. They can, but only in limited circumstances. The same in fact is true of drunk driving accident victims when it comes to third parties.

It all comes down to Florida’s dram shop law, found in F.S. 768.125. A dram shop law is the avenue through which drunk driving accident victims (including, in some cases, the driver) can seek damages from the bar, restaurant or vendor that served alcohol to the drunk driver.  Continue reading →

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A bill that would require all those convicted of DUI in Florida – including first timers – to have ignition interlock devices installed has successfully made it through its first hurdle in the state House of Representatives. The Transportation and Infrastructure Committee approved House Bill 949 by a unanimous vote of 10-0. beer

Now, the measure has to be approved by two more committees before it is debated by the full House. In the coming weeks, the measure will be weighed by the Judiciary Committee. From there, it will need approval from the Government Accountability Committee.

Florida statute at this time does not automatically require ignition interlocks for first-time offenders caught driving under the influence of alcohol. Instead, F.S. 315.1937 and F.S. 322.2715 hold that a first-time offender may be required to have the device installed, but only if:

  • His/ her blood-alcohol level exceeded 0.15 (nearly double the legal limit of 0.08);
  • Was accompanied at the time of the offense by a person under the age of 18.

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Recently, a 40-year-old Florida woman was arrested on charges of child neglect and drug possession after she was found passed out at the wheel of her vehicle, parked in a gas station with her 4-year-old son in the back seat. According to News4Jax, police were called by a passerby who discovered she needed medical attention. After she was revived, she allegedly conceded to officers that she’d been using heroin in front of her son and that she’d momentarily blacked out. heroin

The boy was turned over to the custody of his father, the woman’s husband, who told police that while he suspected his wife had a problem, he didn’t realize it had gotten this bad. Thankfully, the vehicle wasn’t moving at the time of the incident and the boy was not injured, and neither was anyone else. But there is plenty of evidence that an increasing number of drivers are behind the wheel under the influence of drugs – which puts all of us at high risk of collisions resulting in injury and even death.

Federal data reveals every two hours, someone in South Florida suffers a heroin overdose. Perhaps this isn’t entirely shocking, given that southern Florida has always been at the forefront of drug abuse epidemics. There was cocaine and then crack cocaine in the 1980s. Then there was oxycodone and other painkillers, which turned this region into the “pill mill capital” of the country. Then we started seeing a rush of synthetic drugs – aka “bath salts” – over the last few years. Now, we have become a hot spot for abuse of heroin and synthetic opioids, carfentanil and fentanyl.  Continue reading →

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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.  Continue reading →

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A South Florida bar has been ordered to pay $7 million to the families of a young couple killed in a bike accident on Labor Day 2013. The pair was riding a tandem bicycle when they were struck by a drunk driver who had reportedly just left the bar intoxicated. tandembicycle

What’s interesting about this case is that normally, victims of drunk drivers in Florida would not be able to collect damages from the establishment that served the driver alcohol except in very limited circumstances.

However, defendant bar was the employer of the drunk driver, who was reportedly drinking throughout his shift and left intoxicated after a friend failed to pick him up as promised. That may have made a difference in this case. Continue reading →

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Florida’s dram shop law may offer monetary relief for drunk driving accident victims – but only under limited circumstances. beerhand

As far as dram shop laws go, Florida’s is one of the most narrow. Codified in F.S. 768.125, the measure protects persons and business establishments that furnish alcoholic beverages to those of lawful drinking age who are not known to be habitually addicted to alcohol. That means the only time drunk driving accident victims can sue the bar that served the driver may be if the driver was under 21 or if he or she was a known alcoholic.

There have been some instances in which the courts have extended liability, but it usually involves additional assumption of duty. That’s what plaintiffs in the recent case of Torre v. Flanigan’s Enterprises Inc. sought to establish. Continue reading →