An experienced lawyer explains your rights and what you should do afterward
Car accidents in Seminole County caused by drunk drivers can be complicated legal cases. That’s because they often result in serious injuries or even fatalities. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in Seminole County alone, an average of 10 people have died every year for the past five years in accidents caused by drunk drivers. Statewide, an average of 828 people were killed each year for the past five years in crashes involving drunk drivers.
Just recently, a 42-year-old Seminole County resident was sentenced to 10 years in prison for killing a 9-year-old girl while under the influence of alcohol in a 2019 fatal drunk driving crash in Altamonte Springs, according to ClickOrlando.com. The driver was going more than 40 mph over the speed limit at the time and had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level of 0.123, significantly higher than the state BAC limit of 0.08.
So, what should you do if you or a loved one is injured or worse in a drunk driving accident? What are your legal rights? What are your options? Learn more from an attorney with years of experience handling complicated legal cases in Seminole County and throughout central Florida.
What should I do if I get hit by a drunk driver?
While every drunk driving crash is different, there are certain steps crash victims should take to protect their rights and their own health, safety, and well-being. Such steps include:
- Call the police – If the other driver doesn’t want to call them, ignore them. Drunk driving is a serious offense that needs to be investigated by local police in Seminole County or even the Florida Highway Patrol, especially if your accident occurred on a highway like Interstate 4.
- Get medical attention – Even if you feel fine, you could have a serious, life-threatening injury and not even realize it. Have an EMT examine you at the scene of the crash or go to an emergency room if necessary at Orlando Health South Seminole Hospital Emergency Room, Central Florida Regional Hospital Emergency Room or another nearby medical facility. The sooner you have a doctor examine you, diagnose you and provide the medical care you need, the better.
- Talk to witnesses – If someone saw your accident, make sure you get their full name and contact information, including the best phone number to reach them. Eyewitness testimony can be a valuable piece of evidence in support of your claim.
- Take photos of your accident – If you are healthy enough and it’s safe to do so, take photographs of your accident. Pictures can be powerful pieces of evidence. Make sure to take photos of the point of impact, crash debris, and anything else that could be important to your case.
- Get the driver’s information – After the police arrive, make sure you get the other driver’s full name, address, and insurance information. If the other driver is too intoxicated to talk, get this information from the investigating police officer or state trooper.
- Call your insurance company – Tell them you have been in an accident caused by a drunk driver. Keep your comments brief during your first phone call. Dealing with insurance companies – including even your own – can be challenging in some cases. That’s why it’s important to be cautious when dealing with insurance companies immediately after an accident.
- Don’t talk to the other driver’s insurance company – The at-fault driver’s insurance company might contact you soon after your accident. Don’t talk to them. Anything you say or put in writing could be used as evidence to reduce or deny your accident claim.
- Don’t discuss your accident – While it might be tempting to talk about your accident with friends or post something about it on social media, it’s important to realize that investigators working for the other driver’s insurance company could be monitoring anything you say or post. Your statements can potentially be used as evidence by insurance companies to deny your claim.
- Call a lawyer – The sooner you talk to a lawyer, the better. It’s also important to talk to an attorney who knows Seminole County and understands how the legal system works.
Can I sue a drunk driver?
In many cases, you can file a lawsuit against a drunk driver if they caused your accident. However, it’s important that you have evidence in support of your case, including the investigating police officer’s official car accident report. Make sure the report states that the driver was under the influence of alcohol at the time of your crash. If you’re not sure how to find such information, talk to an experienced attorney immediately.
In addition, depending on the circumstances of your crash, you may be able to take legal action against other at-fault parties, including a bar, liquor store or restaurant that sold alcohol to the driver after they were already clearly intoxicated. Such legal cases are often referred to as “dram shop” claims. Here again, an experienced lawyer can help you better understand if you have a dram shop claim and explore other possible legal options with you.
How much is my case worth?
The bottom line is you should be financially compensated for all your accident-related expenses. The problem is some people (and insurance companies) only take into account short-term expenses immediately after an accident. You should be paid for all your accident-related bills, even if it’s a service or expense years from now. Long-term accident-related expenses can include:
- All car repair or replacement costs
- Follow-up surgery for long-term medical issues related to your accident
- Physical therapy due to chronic pain caused by your crash
- Modifications to your home (including installing a wheelchair ramp) due to a permanent disability
- Replacement income if you cannot work while you’re recovering from your accident
- Lost future income if you cannot return to work due to your injury
- Pain and suffering in certain circumstances
Accident-related expenses can add up fast. Add in future expenses and your claim could be easily worth thousands of dollars or significantly more. Make sure you get the money you deserve. Talk to an attorney as soon as possible.
Why should I hire a lawyer?
You might think you don’t need an attorney if a drunk driver clearly caused your accident in Seminole County. Legal cases often turn out to be complicated accident claims, however. The drunk driver might deny being intoxicated. They might challenge their BAC test results or even try to claim that you somehow caused the crash.
Other times, it’s the drunk driver’s insurance company that’s the problem, because they often realize just how much money your claim could end up costing their company. That’s why the other driver’s insurance company might do everything it can to reduce or deny your claim.
That’s not right. You need the Law Offices of Scott M. Miller on your side, standing up for your rights. Attorney Miller and his talented legal team have years of experience handling complex legal cases in Seminole County and throughout central Florida. Get our law firm on your side. Take an aggressive stance and demand the money you rightfully deserve.