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Victims of Drunk Driving Accidents have Legal Rights

Though the large majority of people of driving age should be fully aware of the high risks of accidents and injuries stemming from drunk driving, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) reports that over 29 million people in the United States admitted to getting behind the wheel of a car while under the influence of alcohol in 2012 alone. Furthermore, impaired drivers caused accidents that resulted in 290,000 injuries and 10,076 deaths in 2013.

Injured victims do have the right to hold drunk drivers who caused their injuries accountable by filing a personal injury claim in civil court. This claim is separate from any criminal charges the impaired driver may face following the accident. While a criminal case imposes penalties such as jail time, fines, probation, license suspension, and more, a personal injury civil case allows DUI accident victims to receive compensation for all of their injury-related losses such as medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages, and more.

Negligence per se

Because driving under the influence (DUI) is illegal, the legal doctrine of “negligence per se” can come into play in many drunk driving accident cases. Negligence per se means that a court can find a person automatically negligent based on the fact that they violated a statutory law. Therefore, if a drunk driver receives a DUI conviction in criminal court, it may be enough to satisfy the negligence requirement of your case. This means that no other evidence would be needed to prove that the driver was negligent and that you would only have to prove the losses you suffered in the accident.

Can you sue the bar that served the driver?

Laws in certain states—referred to as “dram shop laws”—allow victims injured by intoxicated persons the legal right to file a claim against the establishment or person who sold the alcohol to the drunk driver. The state of Florida, however, does not have a general dram shop law, but instead sets out very limited circumstances under which an establishment may be held liable. These circumstances are as follows:

  1. The person selling the alcohol knew the individual purchasing the alcohol was “habitually addicted” to alcohol; OR
  2. The person selling the alcohol knew they were unlawfully providing alcohol to a person who was younger than the legal drinking age of 21 years.

Though these situations may not be especially common, if the drunk driver who caused your injuries was underage or was known to be habitually drunk at that particular establishment, you may file a claim for compensation from the establishment as well as the drunk driver.

An experienced Boca Raton personal injury lawyer can help you

At the law firm of Lavalle Brown & Ronan in Boca Raton, our experienced attorneys know how to handle any type of auto accident case, including drunk driving accidents. We are committed to helping injured victims hold impaired drivers responsible for their actions and will provide the highest quality of representation in your case. Please call our office for a free consultation at 855-BOCALAW today.

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