Port St. Lucie Drunk Driving Accident Lawyers

When an impaired motorist causes a collision, the aftermath can be devastating. The fact that such accidents are entirely preventable—and utterly senseless—only compounds the tragedy.

Getting behind the wheel while under the influence of drugs or alcohol demonstrates a total disregard for not only your own life but also the lives and safety of everyone on the road around you. Policymakers in Florida consider drunk driving so egregious, in fact, that accident victims typically have the right to recover punitive damages in addition to compensatory damages.

If you or someone you love was hurt by an impaired motorist, turn to the drunk driving accident attorneys at Donaldson & Weston. After evaluating the circumstances of the crash, we will perform a rigorous investigation to gather the evidence needed to prove liability and damages. Call 772-266-5555 to schedule a free consultation.

Qualities to Look for in a Port St. Lucie Drunk Driving Accident Attorney

Drunk driving accidents can leave victims physically, emotionally, and financially devastated. When you are in such a vulnerable position, it is essential to find the right legal ally to represent you. At the end of the day, you want someone who will serve as your unwavering advocate during every stage of the claims process.

If you have never needed a drunk driving accident lawyer, though, you may not know what to look for in one. Here are just a few qualities worth valuing in a personal injury attorney:

  • Applicable Experience: Since personal injury law is such a broad practice area, it’s important to confirm that the lawyers you are considering have experience resolving drunk driving claims in particular. Demonstrating liability in these cases is different from gathering evidence to prove fault in claims involving slip and fall accidents or surgical errors.

  • A Track Record of Success: Look for a firm that has successfully taken on even the largest insurance corporations. If the attorneys are skilled negotiators and have the resources to fight tenaciously on every client’s behalf, their track record should indicate as much.

  • Compassion and Warmth: Getting in any kind of motor-vehicle collision is traumatic, but drunk driving accidents tend to be especially stressful because they usually come out of nowhere. As a result, their victims often struggle emotionally in the aftermath, and they deserve a lawyer who is empathetic to their situation.

  • An Open Line of Communication: The best attorneys will provide their clients with a direct means of contact instead of forcing them to leave a message with a legal secretary whenever an issue arises. Dedicated lawyers will also check in with clients regularly to advise them on the progress of the proceedings.

How to Prove Liability After a Drunk Driving Accident

If you were hurt in a collision with an impaired motorist and you intend to file a third-party claim, you’ll have to prove liability before you can recover compensation for medical bills and other damages. Fortunately, unlike crashes involving drowsy or distracted drivers, there are usually chemical test results available to prove liability after a drunk driving accident. It’s also likely that the officer who attended the scene recorded details about the at-fault driver’s impairment in the crash report.

Besides the police report and chemical test results, there’s other evidence your attorney may be able to use to prove liability, such as:

  • Photographs of the scene;

  • Statements from eyewitnesses;

  • Dash cam recordings from nearby vehicles;

  • Surveillance footage from nearby businesses;

  • Receipts from any restaurants or bars that served the motorist prior to the accident;

  • Testimony from an accident reconstruction expert; and

  • Social media posts detailing the defendant’s activities before getting behind the wheel.

Can Injured Parties Ever Be Found Liable for a Collision with an Impaired Motorist?

It’s reasonable to assume that whenever a drunk driving accident occurs, the impaired motorist is liable; however, he or she may not necessarily be 100 percent responsible for the collision. If you were speeding prior to the accident or violating another traffic law, you might be considered partially at fault. The opposing party might argue that had you not been speeding, you would have had enough time to make an evasive maneuver to avoid the wreck.

When awarding compensation in personal injury lawsuits, Florida courts follow a pure comparative fault system. Under this system, accident victims who were partially liable for the incident that caused their injuries may still recover damages; however, their total compensation will be reduced by their own percentage of fault. That means if you are found 15 percent responsible for the accident, you could recover compensation for just 85 percent of the damages you incurred.

If you think the opposing party might argue that you were partially liable, it’s important that you speak to an attorney right away. The legal team at Donaldson & Weston can perform a meticulous investigation and do everything in their power to minimize the percentage of fault assigned to you.

Potentially Recoverable Damages in Florida Drunk Driving Accident Claims

There are a variety of factors that could influence the potential value of a drunk driving accident claim. Examples include the severity of the injuries, the permanence of the injuries, whether the injuries have affected your ability to earn an income, and the ways in which the injuries have impacted your quality of life.

In the state of Florida, the following damages may be available in a drunk driving accident case:

  • Medical expenses;

  • Lost wages;

  • Lost benefits;

  • Loss of earning capacity;

  • Property damage;

  • Alternative transportation;

  • Home care;

  • Child care and/or domestic help;

  • Pain and suffering;

  • Loss of enjoyment in life;

  • Emotional distress; and

  • Loss of consortium.

Drunk driving accidents are also one of the few scenarios in which punitive damages may be warranted. Punitive awards in these cases are usually capped at $500,000 or three times the total compensatory damages, but there are some exceptions to this limit.