Things to Know After an Accident With a Drunk Driver
Every day, almost 30 people in the United States die in drunk-driving crashes — that’s one person every 50 minutes. Fortunately, although these deaths have fallen by a third over the last three decades -more than 10,000 lives per year are still lost per year due to the actions of a drunk driver, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Despite the known dangers of drunk driving, alcohol-impaired accidents continue to account for nearly one third of all traffic related deaths in the U.S. Many people think they can drive even though they have only had a few drinks, but this decision can have a lasting impact not only on the driver but on others sharing the road. Deciding to drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol can have devastating consequences, both civilly and criminally.
If you or a loved one is involved in an accident involving a drunk driver you need to immediately call the police. Once the police are called, start taking photographs of the scene, talk to any witnesses, and call your insurance company. If you have been injured, seek immediate medical attention.
Florida is a ‘no-fault’ car insurance
Florida is a “no-fault” car insurance state, which means that every driver must carry a minimum of $10,000 in Personal Injury Protection coverage. When a motorist gets into an accident, he or she can use this coverage to pay for losses sustained in an accident. If you’re injured in a car accident, your legal options are sometimes limited. A liability claim for damage to a vehicle can be made against the at-fault driver in Florida, with no limitations, or against your own insurance company under your required property damage coverage.
It is possible to make a claim against the person causing the accident for all economic damages suffered. Economic damages can be medical expenses, lost wages, and other amounts you had to pay out because of the accident. You may also be entitled to “non-economic damages” if you have suffered a permanent injury. Non-economic damages are things like pain and suffering, mental anguish, and loss of enjoyment of life.
Speaking of insurance, if you own a car and are convicted of a DUI, expect your car insurance rates to rise substantially.
A DUI affects insurance rates for 3-10 years, depending on the driver’s state and insurance company. Most insurance companies look back 3-5 years for infractions on a driving record, but some look back as far as seven years.
According to Victor Mandia, Director of Insurance and Partner at Jaffe Tilchin Insurance, “statistics show a DUI conviction could lead to an increase of at least 80%, on average, however, car insurance rates after a DUI conviction could be much higher, depending on what state you live in. Additionally, an individual would be required to file for, and carry, an FR44; a certificate verifying insurance coverage that meets the state’s applicable requirements for financial responsibility.” In Florida, an FR44 must be carried for 3 years and requires the following liability and property damage limits are carried:
- $100,000 for injury or death to one person
- $300,000 for injury or death of two or more people
- $50,000 for property damage liability
How to Deal With the DUI Driver’s Insurance Company
After any car accident, you will most likely receive a call from the drunk driver’s insurance company. Many insurance companies will offer an immediate, low-dollar monetary settlement in hopes that you will accept it and not hire an attorney to fully evaluate whether you have a case. The insurance company’s goal is to pay you as little as possible. By talking to a personal injury attorney before you sign anything, it is very likely you will receive a greater monetary settlement than what was initially offered.
You could feel like the settlement from the insurance company is appropriate. However, some expenses, such as future medical procedures and treatments, future pain and suffering, mental anguish, and other “ non-economic damages” will likely not be fully factored into the insurance company’s initial offer. A meeting with an experienced attorney will ensure that your situation is being adequately evaluated so that you can be fairly compensated.
If you or a loved one are involved in a car accident with a drunk driver, you may have a right to receive compensation for any injuries and other damages stemming from the crash. If you have more questions about what to do after an accident with a drunk driver, feel free to call us at 813-995-6444 or drop a line.