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A DUI Dual Perspective: The Victim And The Passenger

People like to enjoy themselves over the holiday season. Some people in southwest Florida might enjoy themselves a bit too much. When a night of festivities leads to an unfortunate accident, parties on both sides can suffer.

The Victim: Injured Through Innocence

Nearly 30 percent of all fatal car accidents in Florida are the result of someone driving while under the influence of alcohol. Though sometimes it is the drunk driver who suffers the fatality, there are many innocent people who suffer in this type of accident. Driving home from a late shift at work, a family gathering, or a night out with friends can result in the loss of life when other people are careless.

But death is not the only injury that can occur in a car accident with a drunk driver. As the victim of a drunk driving accident, some of the serious injuries that one can sustain include:

• Head injuries, including traumatic brain injury
• Spinal cord injury, including paralysis
• Broken bones and fractures
• Bruises, cuts, and lacerations
• Internal injuries
• Whiplash and soft tissue injuries
• Limb amputation or disfigurement

Rights Of The Victim

As a victim, you have many rights under Florida law. A qualified personal injury attorney in southwest Florida can answer your questions and assist you as you seek the following benefits and compensation:

• Lost wages
• Disability
• Medical expenses
• Mental health counseling
• Property loss and damage reimbursement

If your loved one is deceased as the result of an accident with a drunk driver, you can file a wrongful death claim. Compensation includes medical expenses, loss of support (of the deceased victim), and funeral/burial expenses. A wrongful death claim will not bring back your loved one, but it can help with the overwhelming expenses that can result from such a loss.

It’s important to remember that Florida is a comparative negligence state. This means that you could be held partially at fault for the accident. For example, if you ran a stop sign, were exceeding the speed limit, or were texting on your phone when you were hit by the impaired driver, it could be determined that you contributed to the loss. This can decrease the amount of compensation you receive, which is why procuring legal representation is so important.

The Passenger: When You Get Into A Car With A Drunk Driver

Florida has a higher rate of accidents that occur as a result of drunk driving when compared to the national average. Driving while under the influence of alcohol can have many consequences for the driver and anyone else who is involved in an accident, including their passenger.

Driving after having a few drinks might not seem like a big deal to some people. But when it comes to the trouble that comes when an intoxicated person gets behind the wheel of a car, it can end up being a very big deal. If you’ve elected to get into a vehicle with a person who has had too much to drink, you’re putting yourself and others at risk.

When an accident occurs, the officer who comes to the scene will assess your level of intoxication. If you are sober, you will be questioned as to why you let your intoxicated friend get behind the wheel. Unless you have a good reason, such as being unlicensed or intoxicated, you could be charged with reckless endangerment. It is unlikely, however, that the arresting officer will choose to take action.

Rights Of The Injured Passenger

Sober or not, if you are injured as a passenger in the vehicle whose intoxicated driver caused an accident, you have the right to seek compensation for your injuries. When filing a personal injury claim based on negligence of the driver, you will need to prove:

• Injuries – The specific injuries that you sustained in the accident.
• Breach of “duty of care” - That the driver failed to exercise a level of caution to refrain from causing harm to others.
• Causation - That there is a direct link between your injuries and the driver’s intoxication.
Again, this makes it very important to seek help from an experienced attorney who handles auto accidents of all kinds.

Too Drunk To Drive

Knowing when you’re too drunk to drive is essential to keeping people safe on the streets of southwest Florida. If you are planning to get behind the wheel after a few drinks, or if you plan to get into a car with someone who has, consider these signs that show someone is too drunk to drive:

• Loss of concentration
• Poor coordination
• Loss of self-control
• Slurring speech
• Unable to walk steadily
• Impaired perception

If you or a driver shows any of these signs, do everyone a favor--call a cab.