Kissimmee Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer
Unfortunately, drunk driving accidents are widespread in Florida. Florida is a huge tourism hub with many people traveling here for vacations each year. Tourists often drink alcohol while traveling around to each attraction site, and this leads to a relatively high number of drunk driving accidents. Drunk driving accidents can lead to catastrophic injuries or even take a life. Victims of drunk driving accidents have the legal right to seek compensation from the drunk driver and any other person who may be liable, such as the establishment that provided the alcohol to the drunk driver. Drivers who are over the legal limit can face criminal charges in a DUI case. In the instance of a criminal case, a prosecutor will charge them with a criminal offense or other DUI charges, which may result in prison time.
However, to receive compensation for your damages, the first step you should take is to contact legal counsel with years of experience in the Kissimmee area. They will help protect your legal rights against a defendant and their DUI lawyer. If you have been injured in a drunk driving accident, a drunk driving lawyer can help you obtain the compensation you deserve for your injuries and any damages. Our law firm at Ward Law provides clients with legal advice and useful information, so that they may determine the best way to seek justice. It is our job to be by your side through every step of the legal process, to answer all of your questions, and help you attain the best possible results – we take each attorney-client relationship very seriously. Contact us through our website contact form today for a confidential consultation. No matter what your situation is, we will listen to your individual case and be there for you every step of the way.
How common are drunk driving accidents in Kissimmee, FL?
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statistics, 28 people die in drunk driving accidents every day in the United States. This means that a person dies every 52 minutes from a drunk driving accident in this country. In 2017, there were 10,874 fatalities in motor vehicle accidents involving drivers with blood alcohol concentrations of .08 or higher. Each year, drunk drivers account for almost 30% of all traffic fatalities in the United States.
Florida is known for having some of the worst drivers in the country, and drunk driving accidents are prevalent in Florida – particularly in Central Florida. Traffic in Kissimmee and the surrounding areas, such as Orlando, Winter Park, St. Cloud, and Winter Garden, is congested and can be particularly dangerous because of tourists being unfamiliar with the roads. If the influence of alcohol is added to these dangerous conditions, the results can be devastating. Florida ranks as one of the states with the highest percentage of drunk driving fatalities. According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, in 2019 there were 602 criminal DUI violations reported in Osceola County.
Drunk driving is a serious problem in Kissimmee and the surrounding areas, often with catastrophic results. In July 2021, at the intersection of Marigold Ave and Walnut Street in Poinciana, a 46-year-old Kissimmee woman who had been drinking wine and smoking pot struck and killed another motorist head-on. The 22-year-old victim died at the scene. The drunk driver had a blood alcohol content of .23 when she was admitted to the hospital for minor injuries. Authorities charged the driver with DUI manslaughter, DUI with property damage, possession of illegal drugs (marijuana), possession of drug paraphernalia, and DUI.
In another recent drunk driving accident, in April 2021, a man and his wife were driving to work just north of Miami. While stopped at a red light at the intersections of NW 36th Street and NW 27th Street, a drunk driver in a Lamborghini lost control and crashed into oncoming traffic, severely injuring the couple. The driver of the Lamborghini, who was speeding and had a BAC of .19 at the time of the crash, injured himself as well. The attorneys at Ward Law represented the victims of the crash.
What kinds of injuries result from drunk driving accidents?
Drunk driving accidents can cause minor to serious bodily injury. Some common injuries from drunk driving accidents include broken bones, whiplash, traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, concussions, dismemberment, slipped or herniated vertebral discs, internal organ damage, and paralysis.
Drunk driving accidents can also lead to intangible injuries, which include the mental anguish and suffering you’ve endured because of the accident. Drunk driving accidents can cause injured victims to suffer from depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other psychological problems. Florida law recognizes that victims are entitled to be compensated for these types of injuries.
Drunk driving accidents can also sometimes result in death. If your loved one died in a drunk driving accident, you have the freedom and access under Florida law to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the drunk driver.
Am I the victim of a crime if I am in an accident with a drunk driver?
Yes. If you are injured in an accident with a drunk driver, you are considered a victim of the crime under Florida’s drunk driving laws. Florida passed the Florida Crimes Compensation Act, which allows for monetary compensation to be paid to crime victims. In order to be eligible for compensation under the Florida Crimes Compensation Act, you must show that you suffered from severe injuries as a result of another person’s crimes. These injuries include spinal cord injuries resulting in severe paralysis, limb amputations, severe brain or head injuries, second or third-degree burns covering at least a fourth of your body, blindness, and any other severe injury that would qualify a person to receive disability income benefits. Crimes that allow a person to receive compensation include misdemeanor and felony crimes that result in serious injury or death.
To bring a claim for monetary compensation under the Florida Crimes Compensation Act, you must report the crime to law enforcement officials within 72 hours and complete an application for assistance within one year of the drunk driving accident. If you contributed to the accident, have a felony on your criminal record, or were engaged in unlawful activity, you are not allowed to receive compensation under the Act.
What are the criminal penalties for drunk drivers in Florida?
Florida’s criminal laws mandate that for the first offense of a DUI conviction with a blood alcohol content of at least .08, the person’s driver’s license is suspended for 180 days, and they must pay a fine of between $500 and $1,000. There is no mandatory jail time for most first-time DUI offenses, and the maximum possible jail time is six months. A person may also be required to have an ignition interlocking device installed in their car.
With the second DUI conviction for a person driving with a blood alcohol content of at least .08, the mandatory jail time is ten days to nine months if the conviction happened within five years of the first conviction. The person’s driver’s license is revoked for 180 days to a year, and there is a mandatory fine of between $1,000 and $2,000. If the conviction occurred within five years of the first conviction, your license will be revoked for five years. A person with a second conviction must have an ignition interlocking device installed in their car for at least a year.
With the third DUI conviction for a person driving with a blood alcohol content of at least .08, the mandatory jail time is 30 days to five years if it happened within ten years of a prior conviction. The criminal conviction is considered a felony. If the third DUI conviction happened within ten years of a prior DUI conviction, their license will be revoked for ten years, and there is a mandatory fine of between $2,000 and $5,000.
If the person’s third DUI conviction is more than ten years after a prior conviction, the driver’s license is revoked for 180 days to a year, there is a mandatory fine of between $1,000 and $2,000, and there is a maximum jail term of twelve months. The person must also have an ignition interlocking device installed in their car for at least two years.
With the fourth DUI conviction for persons driving with a blood alcohol content of at least .08, the case can be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor. If it’s charged as a felony, the mandatory jail time is up to five years, with a $5,000 fine. The person’s driver’s license may also be permanently revoked. For all fourth DUI convictions, there is a mandatory fine of at least $2,000.
For all DUI convictions where a person has a blood alcohol content of at least .15 with blood tests or breath tests, Florida law requires higher fines and lengthier jail sentences.
Do Florida’s no-fault laws apply to drunk driving accidents?
Yes. Florida is a no-fault state for purposes of liability for personal injuries. Under Florida’s Personal Injury Protection (PIP) laws, Florida drivers must maintain at least $10,000 in insurance, and this amount will automatically be paid out to reimburse you for your injuries. If your injuries exceed $10,000, then your attorney will communicate with the defendant’s insurance company to obtain compensation.
Drunk driving accidents are unique in the state of Florida because Florida has created a Victim’s Compensation Fund through the Florida Crimes Compensation Act. Therefore, in addition to obtaining compensation through Florida’s no-fault laws, you may also be eligible to receive compensation under the Act. The Act allows for certain payments to be made to victims of DUI crashes, including lost wages, medical and hospital bills, mental health treatment, property damage, and disability expenses. Compensation through the Act often goes unclaimed because many drunk driving victims do not know they have the right to claim benefits under the Act. Victims of drunk driving accidents must actively pursue their claims, usually with the help of an attorney. The allowances from the Victim’s Compensation Fund can cover any damages that your PIP insurance does not cover. A lawyer with years of experience will help explain your rights to understand the compensation you’re entitled to.
How much compensation can I receive if a drunk driver caused me injuries?
A common misconception is that every drunk driving accident is similar. Each drunk driving accident is different, so the amount of compensation you may be entitled to depends on the circumstances of your case. Your claim will be valued according to present and future lost wages, medical and hospital bills, mental health treatment, property damage, disability expenses, costs of physical and occupational therapy, and any other costs that result from your injuries.
What if a drunk driver killed my family member?
If a drunk driver killed your family member, you have the right to recover both economic and non-economic damages from the drunk driver by bringing a wrongful death lawsuit. Under Florida’s wrongful death laws, the types of damages that are allowed fall under two separate categories: damages paid to the family members of the deceased person and damages paid to the deceased person’s estate. Money damages paid to family members include:
- the loss of services and support that the deceased person provided to the family members,
- mental pain and suffering,
- burial and funeral expenses,
- the loss of companionship and protection, and
- the loss of the deceased person’s instructions and guidance as a parent.
Damages paid to the deceased person’s estate include:
- the deceased person’s lost wages,
- any lost benefits,
- future earnings from the date of the accident to the person’s death,
- the earnings and benefits the deceased would have had in their estate if they had not died, and
- any funeral or medical expenses the estate paid.
How can a Kissimmee drunk driving accident attorney help me after getting hit by a drunk driver?
If a drunk driver injured you in Kissimmee, a drunk driving accident attorney can help you in numerous ways. First, the attorney will thoroughly investigate the details and finer points of the accident, including the police report and other accident info reports. The attorney will get statements and opinions from anyone who witnessed the accident, and also obtain statements from expert witnesses in drunk driving accidents who can testify about the effects of alcohol on the body and how the drunk driver was the cause of your injuries. Finally, the attorney will gather all of the necessary evidence and paperwork, communicate with the drunk driver’s attorney and the insurance company, and make sure that all documents are filed on time, including a personal injury lawsuit against the drunk driver.
The legal process can often be complicated. For these reasons, the hiring of a lawyer is an important decision that you should make early on. Contact the experienced legal team at Ward Law today for a free consultation in either English or Spanish. We will listen to the facts of your case and help you determine the right course to take for the best possible outcome.