Florida Victims of Drunk Driving Accidents
UPDATED: June 14, 2012
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Florida law provides extensive rights for the victims of drunk driving accidents and DUI related injuries in an attempt to drive home the point that it’s not acceptable to get behind the wheel if you’ve been drinking. Here’s what you should know:
Florida drunk driving cases typically involve both a criminal component and a civil component. The criminal component is handled by a state prosecutor when criminal charges are made against the drunk driver, either for a death, manslaughter, or felony multiple DUI charges.
A civil DUI case involves two parts: an auto accident claim in which the victim (plaintiff) attempts to get compensation for injury or property damage, and the criminal aspect where the plaintiff’s attorneys must attempt to prove that the accused party was in fact driving while under the influence.
While a drunk driver can be prosecuted by a state attorney in criminal court, the burden of proof is much more significant in criminal cases, which means they are more difficult to prove. However, if the plaintiff’s attorney is able to convince a jury in a civil case that the driver was likelyintoxicated, he or she may be on the hook in a civil case. Drunk driving victims should not rely on the criminal justice system to prosecute criminals who drive while under the influence – if they want to directly seek compensation for their injuries and losses, they must file an injury claim in civil court.
Florida’s drunk driving law (or dram shop law) also allows the victim of DUI negligence to go after the facility that served the accused alcohol in certain circumstances. The dram shop law generally applies if a liquor-licensed facility served a minor or someone clearly intoxicated or addicted to alcohol. If the dram shop qualifications are met, the DUI victim can go after the facility that served the alcohol for all or a portion of the injury or damage caused by the defendant.
Some bars, restaurants and hotels purchase extensive liquor liability insurance to help protect them in dram shop law cases. That’s why it’s a good idea to hire an experienced DUI plaintiffs’ attorney to help fight the insurance company and represent your interests in court. A good DUI plaintiffs’ lawyer can help determine whether your case is fit for trial, file the appropriate complaints and usher you through the often-complicated discovery and trial process.
As a drunk driving accident victim in the state of Florida, you do have rights. Protect them by obtaining experienced an experienced Florida crime victims attorney as soon as possible after your accident.