Gainesville Drunk Driving Accident Attorneys
Drunk Driving Accident Claims in Florida
Like every other state, Florida has laws that specifically ban the operation of a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or certain drugs. “Driving under the influence,” or DUI, is a criminal offense that comes with various criminal penalties, such as jail time and fines. Victims of drunk driving accidents also have the right to file civil claims against drunk drivers who cause serious bodily injury or death. A successful civil action will not result in criminal penalties but, rather, allows the person bringing the claim (known as the “plaintiff”) to recover financial compensation for accident-related damages.
If you were severely injured, or if you lost a loved one due to a drunk driving accident, reach out to the team at Schackow & Mercadante right away. Our Gainesville drunk driving accident attorneys represent victims and their families, helping them fight for the justice they deserve and the fair compensation they are owed. Together, our lawyers have over 126 years of combined experience and have successfully represented the rights of countless injured and wronged clients throughout Alachua County and all of the surrounding areas.
For a free, no-obligation consultation, call us at (352) 261-6767 or contact us online today.
In Florida, it is unlawful to operate a motor vehicle—including a car, motorcycle, truck, boat, or any other motorized vehicle—while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
The state considers someone to be “under the influence” if:
- They have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher
- Their normal faculties are impaired by alcohol or drugs, regardless of BAC
For those under the age of 21, as well as commercial vehicle drivers, the laws are stricter. No one in Florida under the age of 21 may operate a motor vehicle with a BAC of 0.02% or higher. For commercial driver’s license holders, the BAC threshold is 0.04%.
Those found to be in violation of the state’s DUI laws face serious criminal, administrative, and civil penalties. These penalties range from imprisonment to fines to mandatory driver’s license revocation, reimbursement to victims, and more.
Filing a Claim Against a Drunk Driver
Because drunk driving accidents so often lead to catastrophic injuries, most victims can go outside Florida’s no-fault system and bring claims directly against those responsible (e.g., the drunk drivers). You can only go outside the no-fault system if you can prove that your injuries meet the state’s definition of a “serious injury,” i.e., that it resulted in serious and permanent disfigurement, scarring, or impairment of a bodily function, system, or member.
Injuries that lead to death are also considered “serious injuries” by the state of Florida. This means that if your loved one passed away due to a drunk driving accident, you have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the liable party. Although nothing can bring your loved one back or ever begin to compensate you for the immense pain and suffering you have endured, a successful lawsuit can allow you to recover monetary resources to manage unexpected financial challenges in the wake of your loss. It can also bring about a much-needed—and much-deserved—sense of justice for surviving family members.
Dram Shop Liability in Florida
“Dram shop” laws refer to a vendor’s liability in overserving alcohol to an individual who goes on to cause injury to another as a direct result of being intoxicated. In Florida, you may have a dram shop liability claim against an establishment, such as a bar or restaurant, that provided alcohol to someone who later caused a drunk driving accident, but there are several elements of your claim you must prove to have a successful case.
In Florida, an establishment or vendor could be liable for a drunk driving accident if it:
- Knowingly provided alcohol to an individual who is “habitually addicted to the use of any or all alcoholic beverages” who then went on to cause a drunk driving accident
- “Willfully and unlawfully” provided alcohol to a minor (someone under the age of 21) who then went on to cause a drunk driving accident
Note that a vendor or establishment is not necessarily liable if it supplies alcohol to someone who is visibly intoxicated and then goes on to cause a drunk driving accident—unless the vendor or establishment knew the individual was a minor or had a drinking problem, yet knowingly and/or unlawfully served them alcohol anyway.
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Getting back on your feet after a drunk driving accident can be incredibly difficult. If you were involved in the crash, you are likely dealing with serious and possibly even disabling injuries, which can permanently affect your ability to work, provide for your family, and care for yourself. If you lost a loved one because of a drunk driver, you are almost certainly navigating one of the most difficult times in your life emotionally, not to mention facing numerous financial hardships as a result of this loss.
At Schackow & Mercadante, we are here to help you and your family fight for the justice you deserve. Our Gainesville drunk driving accident lawyers understand the law and how it applies to your case. We know how to leverage our years of experience, considerable resources, and reputation for success to your advantage. Although we strive to settle cases as quickly as possible without having to go to court, this is not always possible. Whenever necessary, our team is ready to aggressively pursue your case at trial and defend your rights before a judge and jury.
We truly care about our clients. At Schackow & Mercadante, we make it our top priority to ensure that you receive the high level of support and service you deserve. We want to serve not only as your legal counsel but also as your guide through this difficult time in your life.
“I am a UF student who got injured on campus and Schackhow and Mercadante handled my case extremely well. Everything was settled in about a year and I highly recommend them for any personal injury case in which you are a victim in any capacity.”