Hit By a Drunk Driver in the state of Florida
Car accidents can be painful and traumatizing, especially if that accident was caused by a drunk driver. You’re left feeling shaken up, hurt, and wondering how you’re going to make ends meet with costly medical bills and vehicle repairs piling up. If you’ve been hit by a drunk driver in the state of Florida, it’s important to understand the laws in place for these types of events and how you can get the compensation you deserve.
Here’s what you need to do at the scene of the accident:
- Call the police. This may seem like a no brainer, but chances are after an accident you’ll be in shock. Calling the police will ensure that there is an accurate and detailed record of this incident, which can be hugely beneficial should you decide to pursue legal action.
- Cooperate with authorities. Accidents are stressful and you’re almost certainly going to feel panicked and confused but cooperating with the police is the best course of action. Don’t exaggerate the details of the accident, and don’t withhold any pertinent information.
- Seek medical treatment. You do not always feel like you have been injured after a crash. When you’re in shock or in an intense situation like this, your adrenaline is pumping, and you may not feel your injuries right away. Always accept medical assistance when offered.
- Gather information if you’re able to. Make sure you get the other driver’s contact information and insurance information. Also look for any potential witnesses to the accident and get their information as well. They can be vital to your case if you decide to file a lawsuit. If you can, try to take photos of the vehicles and scene of the accident, as well as any visible injuries before they are treated by medical professionals.
What are Your Legal Options?
If you’re considering filing a lawsuit, the first thing you should do is seek out an attorney who is experienced in handling drunk driving cases. They can guide you through the process and make sure that you get the necessary compensation. You do need to have some information on hand before speaking with them, though. They’ll need to know:
- If intoxication was truly responsible for the accident. For instance, if you ran a red light and were hit by another driver, just because that driver was intoxicated does not mean that they are fully responsible for the accident.
- The extent and severity of your injuries. Since Florida is a no-fault state (see below), you may only be able to sue for your medical bills, vehicle damages and lost wages if you were seriously injured or qualify under certain circumstances. It’s hard to determine if you qualify on your own, so speaking with an attorney and giving them detailed and accurate information is important.
Florida Insurance Laws
Florida is a No-Fault state, so your insurance will pay for some or all of the medical bills and loss of earnings regardless of who was at fault for the accident. Yes, even if the driver was under the influence, you’ll need to reach out to your insurance company to file a claim. Because of this law, the state of Florida requires all motorists to have Personal Injury Protection coverage (PIP), also known as “No-Fault” coverage. PIP is a type of car insurance that helps pay for you and your passengers medical bills in the event of an accident, and Florida requires all motorists to carry $10,000 of PIP coverage. This type of insurance typically pays for 80% of medical bills and/or 60% of loss wages incurred because of the accident.
Even though this law is in place, there are still other options for seeking financial compensation from the other driver.
Florida Crimes Compensation Act
The Florida Crimes Compensation Act, or Victim’s Compensation Fund, may entitle you to compensation for losses you’ve incurred as the result of an accident caused by a drunk driver, as driving under the influence is considered a crime in the state. To find out if you qualify, it’s best to speak with a lawyer, but here are some basic guidelines:
- The crime must be reported to authorities within 72 hours.
- Application must be filed within one year of the date of the crime. This can be extended to up to two years in extenuating circumstances.
- You must fully cooperate with authorities, state attorney’s office, and attorney general’s office.
- You must not have been engaged in unlawful activity at the time of the crime.
- You must not have contributed in any way to the crime.
- You must not have a record of felony conviction.
- You must suffer personal injury or death, with limited funds available to those who have suffered psychiatric or psychological injury as a result of the crime.
If you think that you may qualify for compensation, reach out to Armour Law Group, Orlando personal injury attorneys, for legal advice. We can navigate the court system for you, and help you get the compensation you deserve.