Drunk Driving Accidents
Naples drunk driving accidents occur with disturbing regularity. The Naples Police Department reports it arrests roughly 85 people a year for drunk driving, which is about 1 every 4 days. Mothers Against Drunk Driving calculated that the average drunk driver has driven drunk 80 times before their first arrest – and we know not all Naples DUI defendants are first-time offenders.
The term “accident” by definition implies that an event is both unintentional and unexpected. Most car accidents square with this definition, even when carelessness or negligence is a primary cause. Drunk driving, however, is not an “accident” in the pure sense. That’s because while an impaired driver may not intend to harm anyone, they are well aware that a crash is an outcome that can be expected when getting behind the wheel when one’s faculties are impaired to the extent outlined in F.S. 316.193. MADD refers to it as the “most commonly-committed violent crime.”
Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Attorneys for the Injured, is committed to fighting for justice for victims of drunk driving, many of whom are grappling not only with their injuries and/or the loss of a loved one, but also medical bills, loss of time at work (and all the financial implications of that), funeral expenses and more. Our Naples drunk driving accident lawyers can help you recover damages for these, as well as pain and suffering, mental anguish and loss of consortium.Proving Negligence in a Naples DUI Injury Lawsuit
Florida is a no-fault state when it comes to auto insurance. That means every driver carries personal injury protection (PIP) benefits that cover your injuries and those of your passengers and resident household members – regardless of who is at-fault. But PIP only goes so far. The maximum you’ll receive is coverage for 80 percent of your medical bills and 60 percent of your lost wages – up to $10,000.
However, if the other driver was drunk and caused a crash, there is a good chance you’ll be able to pursue further damages by stepping outside that no-fault system. First, you need to show your injuries were serious, disabling or disfiguring. Then, you need to show the other driver was negligent.
Every road user in Florida owes a basic duty of care to operate their vehicles in a manner that is safe and reasonable. Failure to do so is negligence. One can do this by establishing failure to abide Florida traffic laws, such as Florida’s drunk driving law. However, one need not prove a violation of statute to show negligence. (That’s why we can pursue a case against an alleged Naples drunk driver even if he or she isn’t ultimately convicted in criminal court.)
Instead, we must show:
- A duty of care existed.
- There was a breach of duty.
- You sustained an injury as caused by that breach of duty.
General negligence provisions are found in Chapter 768 of Florida Statutes.Naples DUI Injury Lawyers Fighting for Damages
When we talk about “damages” in any personal injury lawsuit, we’re referring to compensation for the impact you have suffered and losses sustained as a result of someone else’s negligence. These are referred to as compensatory damages, and they are intended to help victims and their families recover from specific losses.
However, the unique nature of DUI offenses means it is also easily categorized as “gross negligence” and “intentional conduct” which may entitle a victim to punitive damages. As noted in the 1976 Florida Supreme Court case of Ingram v. Pettit, “Drinking to the point of intoxication is a voluntary act. Driving in an intoxicated condition is an intentional act that creates a known risk to the public.” The court concluded by saying that the potential for an adverse award of punitive damages corollary to criminal laws is intended to help discourage reckless disregard for public safety.
According to F.S. 768.72, punitive damages are intended to punish a defendant in a civil case for intentional misconduct or gross negligence, so reckless or wanting in care that it constitutes a conscious disregard for life, safety and the rights of other persons exposed to that conduct. Impaired driving is one of the only types of road accidents for which punitive damages are allowed.
This is not to say punitive damages will be awarded automatically. On the contrary, you’ll need to fight for them, and you’re going to need an experienced Naples injury lawyer at your side.America’s Drunk Driving Affliction
Alcohol-impaired driving causes more than 10,500 deaths a year in the U.S. and is the No. 1 killer on our roads. Further, recent federal data reveals 1 in 4 drivers involved in deadly crashes tested positive for at least one drug that could impact safety (including legal prescriptions, over-the-counter medications and marijuana).
The Florida Department of Health reports that in Collier County, motor vehicle accidents are the No. 1 cause of unintentional injury death. Drunk driving is known to be the cause of at least one-third of all motor vehicle fatalities.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reveals:
- One alcohol-impaired driving death occurs every 50 minutes in the U.S.;
- Estimated economic cost of all drunk driving crashes in the U.S. is $44 billion;
- Of the children under 14 who die in motor vehicle accidents, 17 percent are killed in DUI crashes;
- Deadly alcohol-impaired driving crashes are 3.3 more times as likely at night than during the day.
If you’re injured in a Collier County crash, contact our Naples drunk driving injury attorneys. We offer free initial consultations to help you determine if you’ve got a case.
If you or someone you care about has been hurt, contact the Naples drunk driving injury lawyers at Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Attorneys for the Injured. You pay us no fees unless we win.