Were you injured by a drunk driver? You are not alone. South Florida is rife with DUI incidents, especially during peak drinking seasons. There were 2,567 DUI violations in Palm Beach County in 2017.  43,899 DUI tickets were handed out across Florida in 2017. There were 24,334 DUI convictions throughout the state in 2017.
You are driving down the road minding your own business. You are focused on getting home at the end of a long day, and looking forward to a bit of relaxation before you go to bed. All of a sudden, your body is jolted and your car is spinning. Your car comes to a stop and you get out to assess the damage to yourself and your vehicle.
As the other driver approaches, you smell a strong odor of alcohol. The police arrive, take a report and place the other driver in handcuffs. You’ve been hit by a drunk driver and it’s something you never thought would happen to you.
You immediately begin to wonder about your options. As West Palm Beach car accident attorneys, we believe that it is important that every person who has been injured by a drunk driver knows their rights.
Florida is known as a no-fault state when it comes to auto accidents. In other states, the police determine who is at fault in an accident, and that person’s insurance is what will covered the other driver.
In Florida, your own insurance coverage applies, no matter who caused the accident. While this can simplify things, it doesn’t mean that you will be treated fairly. Read on to discover more about your options after you are injured by a drunk driver.
Settling With Insurance
Once you have been medically assessed, treated, and released, the first phone call you will want to make is to your insurance agent. You will want to check your policy to see how long you have before you are required to contact your insurance company, but in most cases, you must report your accident within 48 hours.
Your insurance agent will likely send an adjuster out to assess the damage to your vehicle and review your medical bills. The adjuster will report their findings to the company and you will be given a settlement offer. It is your choice whether to accept the initial offer or decline it.
What you need to keep in mind is that there are limits to what the insurance company can offer you. These amounts are typically in the $50,000 range. If your medical bills and property damage exceed this amount, you will pay the rest out of pocket.
Another important consideration is that once you accept a settlement offer from your insurance company, you cannot ask for more or take them to court. A settlement offer that is accepted essentially closes your claim. So if you have been injured by a drunk driver, you should speak with a lawyer as soon as possible. Remember that the drunk driver’s insurance is building a case against you immediately, even if it was not your fault and you did not cause the accident. Be sure to fight back!
Filing a Lawsuit
Your second option will be to file a lawsuit against the at-fault party, even though Florida is a no-fault state. You may choose to pursue this option if your insurance company is not offering you what you deem to be a fair amount, or if the amount offered will not cover your bills. A lawsuit makes sense in cases where catastrophic injury has occurred.
In order for a lawsuit to be successful, you must be able to prove several elements. These include:
- The driver who caused your accident had a duty to follow the rules of the road.
- The driver who caused your accident breached that duty (in this case, by driving impaired).
- The injuries you sustained were directly caused by the accident.
- That you suffered damages as a result of the accident.
When you can prove these elements, you are more likely to have a successful case.
Something to consider before filing a lawsuit is whether or not the other party has the means to pay what you are awarded. In some instances, a person may win an award and never receive compensation due to the other party’s inability to pay. And that’s one of the most difficult problems to overcome if you have been injured by a drunk driver. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t pursue damages; it’s only something to consider and discuss with your attorney. And you should get an attorney immediately!
How a West Palm Beach Car Accident Attorney Can Help
The aftermath of a drunk driving crash can be overwhelming and even devastating. It’s easy to become confused, stressed out, and anxious. You may not know where to turn or which decisions to make. This is when a West Palm Beach car accident lawyer can help.
An experienced car accident attorney can review the details of your accident and provide you with your legal options. Most personal injury attorneys will speak to a potential client at no cost, so it never hurts to seek legal advice. An attorney can be invaluable in helping you determine if an insurance settlement offer is in your best interest or if you should fight for more.
If you have been injured in an accident caused by a drunk driver in West Palm Beach, reach out to our office. We have a team of car accident attorneys who have dedicated themselves to protecting the rights of victims. We are pleased to offer you a free case evaluation in order to help you determine your best course of action. Call today to schedule your consultation with an experienced West Palm Beach car accident lawyer.