I Was a Passenger In a DUI-Related Car Accident

No car accident is pleasant. No one hopes they are involved in a collision involving thousands of pounds of steel moving at high speeds. It is never our idea of a great night. But a DUI-related car accident seems to be that much worse, maybe because it could have been avoided if the other driver or the driver in your car was not buzzed or drunk.

There is nothing we can do about that situation and nothing that will change what has happened. However, we can ensure that from this point moving forward you are in the best possible position you can be. We can ensure that you get the compensation you deserve for the damages, injuries, and pain and suffering you endured as a result of this DUI-related car accident.

Whether you were a passenger in the drunk driver’s car, or you were the driver or passenger in the car a drunk driver hit, this is how you need to handle the situation from this point forward.

DUI stop

Step 1 – Are you Ok?

The first thing you need to do is assess yourself, and the other passengers and drivers. If you need to go to the hospital, then go to the hospital Do not brave this, don’t tough it out, don’t walk it off. These injuries may seem slight because you are filled with adrenaline. But they WILL GET WORSE.

The best thing you can do for your health and for your case is to treat your injuries right away.

do not let your injuries sit because they will get worse, and it will be more difficult to prove that the injuries resulted from the DUI-related car accident. The sooner you take care of your injuries and see a health professional, the better.

Step 2 – Call the Police and Emergency Services NOW

Call the police, especially drinking was involved here. This DUI-related car accident won’t end here and needs to be addressed.

If no one was severely injured or killed in the accident, the drunken driver will be kept in a holding cell for around 8 hours, charged, and then released. They will await trial and sentencing and should contact a lawyer as soon as possible.

If someone was severely injured or died as a result of the accident, the drunk driver will be arrest and likely held until trial. In these cases, the driver is usually not eligible for bail.

| 0.08% | A Note About blood alcohol content (BAC) 

Lots of people think that 0.08% is the legal limit. That is false. It is illegal to drive with ANY alcohol in your system, even 0.0001%. What people call the legal limit, is actually called the presumptive limit. That’s 0.08% you always hear about.

The reason 0.08% is called the presumptive limit is that it is difficult for breathalyzers to catch that amount of alcohol and because it is difficult to prove an amount of alcohol that low had an impact on your driving ability.

But here is the important part, if there was an accident, and the drunk driver is tested and they have any alcohol in their system, they will be charged with a DUI.

Here are some signs that the other driver may have been under the influence of alcohol at the time of the accident. Be sure to mention any of these to the police officer when they arrive.

  • Slurred speech
  • The smell of alcohol
  • Bottles or container in the car
  • Trouble standing (swaying)
  • Erratic driver prior to the crash

The driver may even mention they have had a few drinks be sure to mention this to the police officer that arrives on the scene.

Step 3 – Gather All the Evidence

There’s no such thing as too much evidence. Collect everything you can, and as much as you can and give it all to your car accident lawyer who will decide what to do with it all. If you have been involved in a DUI-related car accident there is going to be lots of paperwork, reports, bills, and medical documents. Keep them ALL!

Take pictures of the accident and of your injuries right away! A picture is worth a thousand words, so collect as many pictures as you can which can be used in your case.

Make sure you are evaluated by a medical professional immediately and that you keep all the documented reports from those medical visits.

As soon as you can, take notes of the accident while they are fresh in your memory. Open up an app on your phone or grab and pen and paper and make the following notes.

  • Information of all the drivers involved (License plate, phone number, full names).
  • Information of all the witnesses (if you are still on scene).
  • Insurance information (if you are still on scene).
  • Exactly where the accident took place.
  • What the weather was like at the time of the accident.
  • What happened leading up to the crash.
  • How fast you were traveling, how fast the other car was traveling.
  • Where you were on the road at the time of the collision.

Make note of these after any DUI-related car accident and be sure to refer to these notes at all points. Take notes as you remember them or as other passengers and witnesses fill in the gaps in your memory.

Step 4 – Get a Great Lawyer

The lawyer you get to represent you is going to make all the difference. If you have trouble picking a lawyer, use these questions to make sure you have the best lawyer.

What if we go to trial?

If your lawyer avoids answering this question or says that trial should be avoided, or that they never go to trial, you should shake their hand and leave.

Insurance companies LOVE lawyers who are scared of the trail. Because they can bully your lawyer into avoiding a trial and that means paying you less than what you deserve.

Your lawyer should have TEETH and should fight back. Your lawyer should say if it comes to trial, then that’s what it takes. You don’t want a kitten lawyer, you want a lion in your corner.

How many DUI-related car accidents have you handled?

Of course, you want your personal injury lawyer to have handled lots and lots of car accident cases. The more the better. An experienced lawyer is one thing, but an experienced DUI-related car accident lawyer, well that’s a whole class on its own.

Ask when the last DUI-related car accident case they handled was and what the outcome was. Don’t let them talk you out of all the information you need to know.

Has anyone at your firm worked for a car insurance company?

A good car accident law firm will actually hire lawyers that used to work for the insurance companies, but they know exactly how the insurance companies work. It’s like having a double agent on your side. A lawyer who knows how insurance companies think!

That gives you the upper hand and the insight into what will ensure you get the compensation you deserve.

What happens if we lose our case?

Does your work on a contingency fee basis? That’s good for you because you will not have to pay if you lose, and your lawyer will only make money if you are compensated. Most lawyers will take roughly 30% of the fees you collect.

Drunk Driving Accident FAQ

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Most clients have a similar set of questions they will ask an attorney. Feel free to ask your attorney these questions as well. But here are some general information, DUI accident FAQs that should provide insight.

  • What if the other driver only had 2 drinks?

It is illegal to drink and drive. Period. See our section regarding blood alcohol content (BAC), and keep in mind that any alcohol in your system is technically illegal.

  • Can I sue if I was partially responsible for the accident?

Yes. Comparative negligence can be used to determine damages and compensation. If you were partially at-fault for the accident, you can still sue for damages. Your level of involvement in causing the accident will decrease your compensation, but you can and likely will still receive compensation.

If you were even fully at-fault for the accident, your lawyer will likely use the “Alcohol or Drug Defense” to limit your liability as much as possible. (FL Statute 768.36)

  • Will I receive more or less money if the other driver was drunk?

The chances of you receive more money are quite high because the other driver is considered negligent. The other insurance company may not give you the full picture, no matter how nice you seem. So be sure to include your attorney in all these conversions.

Steinger, Greene & Feiner – Free Consultations!

Don’t hesitate to call the most experienced lawyers in the business. Feel free to ask us some of the questions posed in the article and we will let you know how we can fight for you.

We are offering free consultation and a No-Fee Guarantee™! Speak with an attorney right now: (800) 560-5059

You can also read more about the steps involved in a car accident case here.

About The Author

Michael Feiner

Michael Feiner

The Florida BarFlorida Bar Young Lawyers DivisionMillion Dollar Advocates ForumMillion Dollar Advocates ForumBest Workers Compensation Attorneys in MiamiBest Car Accident Lawyers in MiamiLawyers of distinction

Michael A. Feiner is a partner in the Fort Lauderdale office of Steinger, Greene & Feiner. Since being admitted to the Florida Bar in 2001, Michael has devoted his practice to representing plaintiffs throughout Florida in various tort and strict liability cases and has successfully litigated cases against national insurance companies, large public companies, and governmental agencies, resulting in tens of millions of dollars for his clients. He has handled all types of personal injury and wrongful death cases on behalf of plaintiffs, including automobile negligence, premises liability, medical malpractice, product liability, dog bites, and sexual harassment. Michael’s product liability case against Microsoft, as well as his representation of victims of sexual harassment and abuse by physicians, has garnered him important media attention at both the local and national levels. Michael is an experienced trial lawyer and successfully argued an appeal to the Fourth District Court of Appeal. In the reported decision Ortlieb v. Butts, 849 So.2d 1165 (Fla. 4th DCA 2003), Michael persuaded the Fourth District Court of Appeal that a directed verdict on liability was appropriate where the defendant did not rebut the presumption of negligence of a rear driver in a rear-end collision.