The pique of the Florida tourist season is just underway. Whether you live here year ’round or visit on vacation, you’ll no doubt experience heavy traffic in the coming weeks. Unfortunately, you’ll also likely share the road with drunk drivers, who may even cause a collision that results in injuries to you or a loved one.
You might mistakenly think that anyone who causes a collision with your vehicle on a Florida roadway is liable for damages. This is not necessarily true. For a drunk driver to be financially accountable for damages in an accident, several elements must be present.
Proving liability in a Florida collision
If a person gets behind the wheel of a car after consuming alcohol, there is a high risk of collision. However, the elements shown in the following list must be present to prove liability if you decide to file a personal injury claim in civil court:
- The defendant must have owed a duty of care at the time.
- He or she must have failed in said duty (negligence).
- The defendant’s negligence must have been a causal factor in the collision.
- Damages must have occurred, whether physical injury, property damage, emotional trauma or economic distress.
Before a judge or jury will issue a decision in your favor, you must prove that each of these elements was present at the time of the incident.
Possible defense strategies a drunk driver might use
A defendant in a personal injury claim must have an opportunity to submit testimony, in which case he or she may undoubtedly try to win the court’s favor. The following list shows various strategies drunk drivers have tried to use in the past to escape liability:
- A defendant might claim that you (plaintiff) shared an equal or greater culpability in causing the accident.
- He or she might claim that there was a superseding event that caused your injuries (e.g., you tripped and fell and broke your ankle on the side of the road while you were waiting for police to arrive).
- A defendant could claim that you already had the injuries listed in your claim before the collision occurred.
Personal injury litigation can be complex, and proceedings can be quite stressful. However, most recovering accident victims secure legal support before heading to court to help alleviate stress and increase the chance of obtaining a favorable outcome.
What to do if a drunk driver has hit you in Florida
It’s always best to seek medical attention following a motor vehicle collision in Florida. It’s also wise to photograph the scene, especially the vehicles involved and any surrounding property damage. You’ll want to make sure you obtain the other driver’s contact information, as well as the name and number of his or her insurance agency. Try your best to avoid confrontation with the other motorists, especially someone who may be under the influence of alcohol. Tap into local resources to help you navigate the aftermath of the accident.