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Nicoletti Walker Law Group Oct. 7, 2014

Even a wonderful adventure can turn into a nightmare when drunk drivers get behind the wheel. Such was the case when an inebriated Tampa man was speeding through Clearwater, Florida on U.S. 19 in his shiny new Mercedes-Benz. Moving too fast to adjust to a U-turn being made in front of his vehicle by a St. Petersburg man, the Tampa resident initiated a collision, sending the other driver’s smaller, older vehicle into a spin. In a terrifying display, the car rolled over the median and burst into flames. Fortunately, the driver survived and was taken to a nearby medical center for treatment. The Tampa man now faces criminal DUI and careless driving charges. He may also face civil charges if the St. Petersburg man brings a personal injury action seeking compensation for damages to his person and property.

Drunk Drivers Can Be Sued in Both Criminal and Civil Court

In the United States, there are two systems of justice: criminal and civil. With regard to drunk driving and its consequences, a drunk driver can face criminal penalties such as fines and/or imprisonment in addition to restrictions on driving privileges. The adverse consequences do not end here, however. Victims of drunk driving, including other drivers, passengers, or pedestrians, may sue drunk drivers in the civil court system to recover damages for both economic and non-economic injuries. These damages may include the cost of all medical treatment related to injuries arising from the accident, wages lost due to missed work, damage to property, and pain and suffering.

How Florida’s Status as A No-Fault State Affects Dui-Related Civil Suits

Florida is one of 12 so-called “no-fault” states with regard to car accidents. This means that, under the state’s car accident liability law, an innocent driver does not have to prove that an accident was the fault of another before receiving compensation from his or her insurance company for things like medical bills and lost wages. There is a flipside, however; the injured person cannot usually sue the other driver for pain and suffering, and certain other damages. Importantly, though, when injuries meet a certain legal threshold, Florida will permit a civil lawsuit for pain and suffering, emotional distress, and other damages in spite of its no-fault car accident liability law.

What to Do if You Have Been Injured as A Result of Another Person Driving Under the Influence

The difference between the criminal and civil justice systems, Florida’s no-fault car accident liability laws, and the legal threshold regarding injuries justifying damages for pain and suffering are very complex legal matters. Because of this, if you have been injured as a result of another person driving while under the influence, you will benefit greatly from consulting with an experienced Florida personal injury lawyer. The dedicated lawyers at Mike Walker Law will explain the legal options available to you, and aggressively represent your interests.