Did you get hurt in an Orlando traffic wreck involving a drunk driver? Are you struggling to pay for necessary medical care or to keep the lights on while you’re out of work and recovering from your injuries? If so, don’t panic. Let an experienced auto justice attorney provide the legal help you deserve.
When you work with the trusted legal team at Michael T. Gibson, P.A., you can count on us for the compassionate and supportive representation you need. We have years of experience standing up for those in our community who have suffered preventable injuries due to the bad behavior of others, and we’re ready to stand up for you, too. Contact us today to learn more about how an Orlando drunk driving accident attorney can help in a free initial case review.
Why Choose Michael T. Gibson, P.A.?
Attorney Michael T. Gibson founded his Orlando auto justice firm after seeing his own family’s experience with helplessness and confusion after a wreck. Today, the legal team at Michael T. Gibson, P.A., provides intelligent and effective representation to crash victims throughout Orlando and surrounding central Florida.
Through hard work and dedication, our firm has secured millions of dollars in fair compensation for people like you, and we’re prepared to take action on your behalf right away.
When you come to us for your free initial consultation session, you will speak directly with our knowledgeable attorneys, who will listen to your story and get to know you personally. Once we understand your situation and big-picture goals, we’ll do everything we can to support your recovery and develop smart legal strategies for your case.
Ready to speak with our team now? Drop by our office near Baldwin Park on the north side of Orlando for an in-person visit. You can also call our bilingual staff anytime, 24/7, for answers over the phone or meet with us virtually at your convenience. No matter where you are in the claims process or how complicated your claim is, you can count on Michael T. Gibson, P.A., for help.
Compensation for Drunk Driving Accident Claims
If you want to seek compensation from a drunk driver after an accident, you should understand how Florida’s no-fault insurance laws could affect your case. In no-fault states like Florida, you turn to your own auto insurance provider first for medical coverage after an accident, no matter who was at fault. Your no-fault medical insurance, in the form of personal injury protection (PIP) coverage, pays for your healthcare expenses and related losses, though only within certain limits.
However, you could have other options if you suffer a serious injury in a Florida car accident. Under state law, a serious injury is a permanent injury, permanent loss of bodily function, or substantial scarring or disfigurement. If you have an injury that meets one of these criteria, you can sidestep the usual no-fault restrictions and file an insurance claim or lawsuit directly against an at-fault driver.
With a successful personal injury lawsuit, you could obtain monetary compensation for the following types of losses after a drunk driving accident:
- Hospital bills and other medical expenses you incur due to your crash injuries
- Incidental costs, such as the costs of traveling to and from medical appointments
- The value of your wage losses from any time you miss from work while recovering
- Projected losses in your future earning potential due to permanent impairments
- Subjective losses, such as crash-related pain, suffering, and lost quality of life
In rare cases, you could also obtain compensation in the form of punitive damages, which judges or juries award in cases involving extremely reckless or intentionally malicious behavior. Florida law generally caps punitive damages awards at $500,000.
Finally, remember that Florida’s no-fault insurance laws do not apply to property damage claims. You can always file a property damage insurance claim or lawsuit against an at-fault driver, regardless of the accident’s severity.
Orlando DUI Accident Facts and Statistics
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), someone dies in a U.S. drunk driving accident about once every 45 minutes. More than 11,000 people died in alcohol-related accidents during one recent year, a 14 percent increase.
Unfortunately, the Sunshine State is not immune to this alarming trend:
- In one recent year, there were 4,554 reported traffic accidents throughout Florida with confirmed alcohol involvement.
- As a result of those crashes, 384 people died, 393 suffered incapacitating injuries, and 2,203 suffered other injuries.
- Also that year, there were 380 reported accidents with confirmed drug and alcohol involvement, which collectively resulted in 328 deaths.
- That same year, there were 228 reported traffic accidents with confirmed alcohol involvement right here in Orange County.
- As a result of these alcohol-related crashes in Orange County, 25 people died, and 145 sustained nonfatal injuries.
- Also that year, there were 20 Orange County accidents with confirmed drug and alcohol involvement, which collectively resulted in 14 fatalities.
Drunk driving is a persistent problem in Orlando for several reasons, including our city’s numerous tourist attractions, yearly influx of spring break visitors, and mobs of local college students.
If you get hurt in an Orlando drunk driving accident, the following state laws and doctrines could apply to your situation:
- Florida’s DUI laws. Florida Statutes § 316.193 prohibits drivers from driving or having “actual physical control” of any vehicle if they are under the influence of alcohol or another impairing substance. In this context, having actual physical control means that a person has the ability to operate a vehicle, even if the vehicle is not actually running at the time.
- Per se negligence rules. When a Florida road user harms another person in a traffic accident, they are liable (legally responsible) for certain losses the person suffers as a result, such as medical expenses and lost wages. In most car accident cases, you can show someone else is liable for your injuries by proving that they were negligent—that is, they had a duty to avoid harming you, they failed in that duty, and you suffered preventable losses as a consequence. In many drunk driving accident cases, the concept of “per se” negligence comes into play. Negligence per se, meaning negligence “in and of itself,” applies when someone violates a law that protects the public from harm, such as a DUI law, and causes harm. If you can show that the other driver was violating Florida DUI laws when the accident occurred, the court could consider them negligent per se, and you wouldn’t have to prove the other usual elements of negligence.
- Florida’s comparative negligence doctrine. Florida’s comparative negligence law could come into play if the other driver claims you are partially at fault for the accident. Florida follows a victim-friendly doctrine of pure comparative negligence, which allows you to file a claim against another party even if you are 99 percent responsible for your own injuries. However, the amount of compensation available decreases in proportion to your percentage of fault.
- Personal injury statute of limitations. Like all states, Florida has a statutory limit on the amount of time you have to file a personal injury lawsuit. If you wish to sue after an accident, you must do so within four years of the date of the accident or risk losing your right to demand compensation.
Florida laws surrounding drunk driving accident claims are complex, and the applicability of each law changes depending on the situation. The last thing you want after suffering traumatic injuries in a DUI accident is to worry about legal research or administrative particulars when you should focus on your recovery. Let Michael T. Gibson, P.A., handle every aspect of your claim while you get back on your feet.
Types of Drunk Driving Accidents and Injuries in Orlando
Alcohol impairs critical thinking, muscle coordination, depth perception, and reaction time, all of which are essential for safe driving. The more alcohol a person consumes, the more impaired they get, though even small amounts of alcohol impair safe driving abilities.
When people choose to drink and drive, they cause accidents such as:
- Head-on collisions
- Sideswipe crashes
- T-bone accidents
- Read-end collisions
- Angle-impact crashes
- Rollover accidents
- Multi-car pile-ups
Many DUI accidents occur at high speeds and leave crash victims with:
- Head and neck injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
- Back and shoulder injuries
- Spinal cord injuries (SCIs)
- Abdominal and internal injuries
- Dislocated or broken bones
- Permanent scarring and disfigurement
- Amputation and loss of limb
- Bruises, lacerations, and puncture wounds
- Soft tissue strains, sprains, and tears
- “Road rash” and other burn injuries
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Demanding Compensation After a Drunk Driving Accident
If a drunk driver causes an accident that injures you in Orlando, FL, you might assume the insurance claims process will be relatively straightforward. After all, if the other driver was clearly intoxicated, what more is there to prove?
First of all, unless you have toxicology test results proving the other driver had a blood alcohol concentration above the legal limit, you cannot say the other driver was negligent per se. That would mean you’d have to provide compelling evidence of the other driver’s liability to seek compensation after the accident. For instance, you might submit proof, like video footage of the other driver weaving erratically or statements from eyewitnesses who saw the other driver stumbling drunk.
Next, there’s the fact that multiple parties could be at fault in a drunk driving accident claim, not just the driver themselves. Under Florida’s dram shop liability law, you could hold an alcohol vendor liable if you can prove they knowingly provided alcohol to a person who was underage or “habitually addicted” to alcohol, and that person went on to harm you as a result. In this context, an alcohol vendor could be a bar, restaurant, grocery market, or liquor store.
Holding multiple parties accountable for a drunk driving accident is extremely difficult, especially when one of them is a company with a reputation to protect.
Finally, many drunk driving accidents result in considerable damage and severe injuries, meaning the resulting claims are costly. As a rule, insurance companies dislike paying large sums, so you’ll likely have a harder time obtaining full compensation for your claim. Even if you have a strong claim with lots of supporting evidence, the insurance company will do everything possible to minimize or deny it.
The best way to level the playing field in light of these unique challenges is to hire a seasoned drunk driving accident lawyer. Michael T. Gibson, P.A., is here to defend your rights and maximize your compensation so you can move forward with your life after an Orlando drunk driving wreck.
What To Do If You Get Hurt in a Drunk Driving Accident
If you suffer injuries in an Orlando car accident involving a drunk driver, your health should be your priority. You should have already gone to the doctor, but if you haven’t, go as soon as possible. Obtaining treatment and a formal diagnosis for your injuries is an important part of your physical recovery and your legal claim.
Once your condition is stable and part of your official medical record, to get a head start on your accident case:
- Adhere closely to the care plan your doctor prescribes
- Record your recovery journey in a “pain journal” each day
- Gather photos and other evidence from the crash scene
- Hang on to medical bills and other crash-related documents
- Watch what you say to others or post online before your case is over
- Contact a local drunk driving accident attorney for help
Orlando Drunk Driving Accident FAQs
Have questions about your Orlando drunk driving accident case? Check out the following answers to some of our most frequently asked questions:
Can I Sue the Person Who Provided Alcohol to the Driver That Hit Me?
In Florida, only alcohol vendors that sell alcohol are liable for the actions of patrons they serve unlawfully. If you got hurt by a drunk driver who consumed alcohol at a social gathering, you could file a claim against the drunk driver but not the social host who gave them alcoholic drinks.
What happens if the drunk driver faces criminal charges for their actions?
A criminal case against a drunk driver will have no direct impact on your personal injury claim, which is a civil matter. You can bring civil charges against a drunk driver whether or not they face drunk driving charges, even if they receive an acquittal. Similarly, you can present proof of a criminal conviction as evidence in your drunk driving accident claim, but that alone is not enough to prove the case.
Do I Have to Wait For The Drunk Driver’s Criminal Case To Finish Before I File a Civil Action?
No, you can file an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit against a drunk driver at any time before the four-year statute of limitations runs out. There is no restriction against filing while criminal prosecution is in progress, and it is best to file your claim as soon as possible.
Orlando residents injured in accidents that were caused by a drunk driver have a couple of different options for recovering damages, including:
- Filing a claim with your own personal injury protection (PIP) policy that you were required to purchase when you registered your car in the state. This policy will provide payment of medically necessary expenses and up to 80 percent of lost wages due to being too injured to work. The policy can also provide compensation for household services that you must hire someone to perform due to your injury and will cover the cost of funeral services and burial if an insured dies as a result of his or her accident-related injury. While the no-fault insurance scheme in Florida was designed to allow injured people to seek compensation from their own insurance carrier and reduce the burden on the court system, the policy does have its limits. The literal limit of what you can receive is generally $10,000—the minimum amount of PIP insurance required. Most serious injuries cost far more than that. Additionally, you cannot recover compensation for non-economic damages such as physical pain and suffering or emotional distress through a PIP claim.
- For those whose injury-related expenses have exceeded the limit of their PIP policy or whose injuries meet the state’s serious injury threshold, the opportunity to recover damages through an Orlando drunk driving accident lawsuit is permitted. The serious injury threshold includes injuries that include a significant and permanent loss of a bodily function; permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability, other than scarring or disfigurement; significant and permanent scarring and disfigurement; or death.
An Orlando drunk driving accident lawsuit generally must be filed within four years of the date on which the accident occurred. There are certain reasons why this deadline might be shorter or longer, including injuries that were incurred by a minor, a person’s failure to immediately realize that he or she was injured; or claims against an employee of a government agency. Your Orlando drunk driving accident attorney will advise you if the statute of limitations in your case is different than the general timeline of four years.
What damages can I recover through an Orlando drunk driving accident lawsuit?
Those injured in drunk driving accidents in Orlando can recover both economic and non-economic damages through an Orlando drunk driving accident lawsuit. Economic damages are out-of-pocket expenses that are easily proven through medical bills, invoices for services, and pay stubs that show what one’s normal pay would be.
These damages include:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Loss of future earning capacity, if your injury results in a permanent disability that prevents you from returning to work
- Property damage, such as the cost of repairing or replacing your car
- The cost of hiring someone to perform household services that your injury prevents you from doing on your own.
Non-economic damages are damages related to the impacts that your injury has on your life. These damages are harder to quantify and require an experienced Orlando drunk driving accident lawyer to calculate.
Examples of non-economic damages include:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of the enjoyment of life
- Loss of consortium, which is a damage collected on behalf of the injured person’s spouse for loss of physical intimacy and companionship as a result of the injury.
In some cases, you may recover punitive damages. Punitive damages are not related to the expenses you have incurred or the impacts your injury has had on your life. Instead, these damages punish a defendant for particularly reckless behavior.
The drunk driver from my accident was arrested. Does this prevent me from pursuing compensation?
No. An arrest is an action taken in criminal cases, while an Orlando drunk driving accident lawsuit is a civil action.
There are distinct differences between these two areas of the law, including:
- The government will pursue a criminal case if it believes it can prove the driver broke a law. An Orlando drunk driving accident case is pursued by the injured person—with the assistance of his or her attorney—to recover damages.
- Civil drunk driving accident cases do not result in government fines or incarceration. Criminal cases typically do not provide compensation for the injured.
Despite each arising from the same set of events, the criminal case against the drunk driver that caused your accident and the Orlando drunk driving accident lawsuit you file in civil court are two separate cases and can occur simultaneously.
A drunk driver took the life of my loved one. Is there a way for me to recover damages?
Yes. In Florida, the loved ones of a person killed in a drunk driving accident can recover compensation through a civil action called a wrongful death lawsuit. Wrongful death lawsuits can be filed on behalf of family members, including the deceased’s spouse, children, and parents, as well as other blood or adoptive family members who are wholly or in part dependent on the deceased for financial support. The statute of limitations for wrongful death cases is two years.
The damages you can recover in this type of action include:
- The value of support and services that the deceased has provided to the family member.
- Loss of companionship, guidance, and protection provided by the deceased to the family member.
- Medical expenses and funeral costs directly provided by the family member.
- Mental and emotional pain suffered due to the loss of a child.
The deceased’s estate can also recover damages through a wrongful death claim, including:
- Lost wages, benefits, and other earnings that the deceased would have likely earned throughout his or her career if he or she had lived.
- The net accumulations that the estate would have collected.
- Medical and funeral expenses paid directly by the estate.
What is Florida’s dram shop law and how does it potentially affect my case?
Florida’s Dram Shop Law states that business establishments who knowingly furnish alcohol to someone who is under the legal drinking age of 21 or is known by staff to be habitually addicted can be held liable for injuries that person causes if they experience an accident while driving drunk after leaving the establishment. If your accident was caused by someone who was known to be habitually addicted or underage, your attorney can investigate the matter to find out if the alcohol was furnished by a business establishment.
Because insurance policies are the way that most Orlando drunk driving accident settlements and awards are paid, the amount of insurance that the liable party has is one of the main factors that affect the amount of money available for compensation. If there is another source of liability and another insurance resource that can be accessed, you may opportunity for greater compensation.
Is it easier to prove liability in a drunk driving accident than one where the driver is impaired by drugs?
Many times it is. The reason for this is that the effects of alcohol are well-known, and the methods of testing one’s level of impairment are readily accepted by the courts. With certain drugs, the correlation between impairment and unsafe driving fare not as well known, and the tests for proving drug impairment are not necessarily as accurate, accepted, or available at the scene of a drunk driving accident.
If I file an Orlando drunk driving accident lawsuit, does that mean I have to face the drunk driver in court?
Not always. In fact, given that the vast majority of Orlando drunk driving accident cases are settled out of court, it is more likely that you will not have to face the drunk driver in court. That said, hire an Orlando drunk driving accident attorney who is comfortable and confident in the notion of obtaining the most compensation available to you, regardless of whether that happens through a settlement negotiation or litigation.
How much is the average settlement for an Orlando drunk driving accident case involving a drunk driver?
Because each case is based on a unique set of facts, including the severity of the accident, the severity of the injuries, and the impacts those injuries have on one’s life, there really isn’t an average settlement.
However, several factors can impact the value of your case, including:
- The amount of insurance the at-fault party has. While it is possible to sue an uninsured person and even obtain a judgment against them, collecting your award would be difficult as most people do not have the money to pay for medical expenses and other damages out-of-pocket.
- The clarity of liability. Even if you are partially responsible for the accident that caused your injury, you can still file an Orlando drunk driving accident lawsuit against other liable parties. However, your award or settlement will likely be reduced by the percentage of blame you bear for the accident.
- Your age and health at the time of the accident. Age affects some of the damage categories, including lost wages and loss of future earning capacity. An individual who becomes hurt while in the middle of a career likely earns a lot more than someone who is too young to have a career or someone who is retired and no longer earning an income. Your health becomes an important consideration as the at-fault party’s insurer will likely argue that the pain you are experiencing is a result of pre-existing conditions.
- Your patience. Orlando drunk driving accident settlements take time, as does litigation. Often, insurance companies will reserve their best settlement offer until just before trial begins or even after it has begun but a judgment has not yet been reached. This often pays off for those who are willing to wait and allow their attorneys to gather the information needed to present the best case possible as well as to negotiate with the at-fault party’s insurance company.
If the other driver was obviously drunk at the time of the accident, why do I need an attorney?
Whether it is guidance as to the legal process, the provision of information needed to make an informed decision on whether to accept a settlement offer, timely filing of court-required paperwork, attendance at all pre-trial conferences and hearings, skilled negotiation, or assistance collecting your settlement or award, an experienced Orlando drunk driving accident attorney has spent years perfecting the skills needed to assist you in a successful outcome to your case.
Because our Orlando drunk driving accident attorneys provide free case evaluations and work on a contingent fee basis—meaning they do not get paid for their services until you obtain a settlement or award—anyone who was injured in a drunk driving accident can afford to take advantage of the experience your attorney can offer you.
If you have further questions following an Orlando drunk driving accident, contact Michael T. Gibson, P.A., Auto Justice Attorney, today.
Contact a Drunk Driving Accident Attorney in Orlando
Contact the auto justice attorney, Michael T. Gibson, P.A., right away at (407) 490-1271 if you have sustained injuries in an Orlando drunk driving accident. Our award-winning team can evaluate your case and provide the answers you need during your free initial consultation session.
Michael T. Gibson, P.A., Auto Justice Attorney
2420 S. Lakemont Avenue
Orlando, FL 32814