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Civil Liability of Impaired Drivers

The holiday season is coming to a close, but parties are still in full swing. That also means there are more impaired drivers on the road.

Driving under the influence is a criminal offense in Florida, and anyone charged with DUI faces tough penalties. Those penalties are more serious when the impaired driver causes an accident. In addition to criminal penalties, impaired drivers face civil liability if someone is injured or killed as a result of their actions.

Civil Liability vs. Criminal Proceedings

Anyone injured by an impaired driver in Florida can file a personal injury suit for damages, and relatives of someone killed by an impaired driver can sue for wrongful death. Whereas criminal charges are based upon a violation of the criminal laws, personal injury and wrongful death cases are based upon a violation of what is known as the “standard of care.”

If the impaired driver is responsible for injuries or death to another person, he or she must pay damages. Those damages include recovery for things such as medical expenses, hospital bills, time away from work, diminished physical or mental capacity and pain and suffering. An impaired driver may also be required to pay punitive damages – damages that are meant to punish the wrongdoer.

Civil cases and criminal cases are separate proceedings that are based upon different evidentiary standards. The outcome of a criminal case may not impact the likelihood of success in a civil case.

Therefore, it is important to file a civil suit even if the criminal charges are dropped or dismissed.

Social Host Liability

In addition to a suit against an impaired driver, a DUI victim may have a case against those responsible for giving the driver too much to drink. This is sometimes referred to as “dram shop liability.” Florida’s law on this issue is limited. It only extends liability for DUI-related damages to those that provided alcohol to someone under 21 years of age or to someone that is a known alcoholic/addict.

If you or someone you love has been injured by an impaired driver, contact Baggett Law for a free consultation. We can help you understand your rights and help you collect the compensation you may be entitled to.

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