Drunk Driving Accidents
Drunk driving is such a huge problem in the United States that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that alcohol-affected crashes kill more than 10,000 people and cost nearly $40 billion every year. In Florida and elsewhere, drunk driving is a leading cause of motor vehicle collisions. If you or a loved one has been the victim of a car accident in the Pembroke Pines area, the Pembroke Pines drunk driving accident attorneys at Cohn & Smith are here to help you try to get your life back on track by pursuing compensation.Holding a Drunk Driver Accountable for Damages
When a person is hurt because of the carelessness or wrongdoing of an individual or business, the victim has the right to file a lawsuit to seek money damages from the responsible party. In car crash cases, including those caused by drunk drivers, the suit usually proceeds under a theory of negligence. To prove a negligence case, the person seeking compensation must show four elements:
- The defendant in the case must have owed a legal duty to the victim;
- The defendant must have breached the duty through some careless conduct;
- The accident must have been a direct result of the defendant’s breach; and
- The victim must have sustained actual damages.
In a typical DUI accident case, the injured person can show that the defendant breached the duty of reasonable care that all motorists owe to those around them by proving that the defendant violated the law prohibiting driving while intoxicated or impaired.
In Florida, it is illegal to operate a vehicle when your blood alcohol content is 0.08% or greater. While a blood alcohol content in excess of this amount is certainly evidence that the defendant violated the standard of care, such a finding does not automatically result in a judgment for the plaintiff. There must also be proof that the victim was harmed as a result of the defendant’s intoxication. If the plaintiff can meet his or her burden of proving negligence against the defendant, he or she may be entitled to damages to compensate for medical expenses, lost wages, and property damage resulting from the crash. Depending upon the extent of the victim’s injuries, he or she may be able to pursue compensation for pain and suffering. Drunk driving cases are also among the rare civil lawsuits where punitive damages may be a possibility.
In many situations, a defendant in a negligence lawsuit in civil court is also the defendant in a prosecution in criminal court. The burden of proof is higher in criminal court, since the prosecution must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, while a civil claimant only has to show his or her right to damages by a preponderance of the evidence. There is also a difference in the types of evidence that are admissible in civil and criminal court. Because of the contrasting levels of proof and the evidentiary differences between civil and criminal trials, it is possible that a defendant may be found “not guilty” of a criminal charge but still bear financial responsibility for an accident in civil court.Consult an Experienced Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer in Pembroke Pines
Accidents involving drunk or impaired drivers can be very complex. This is especially true when a crash results in catastrophic harm or a wrongful death. The injury lawyers at Cohn & Smith can assert the rights of individuals in Pembroke Pines and the surrounding cities. To schedule an appointment at no charge, call our Pembroke Pines drunk driving accident lawyers today at 954-431-8100 or fill out our online form. We have represented accident victims throughout South Florida, including in Aventura, Tamarac, Weston, and Pompano Beach.