Our Lake City drunk driving accident lawyers at Steven A. Bagen & Associates, P.A. know how to hold drunk drivers and their insurance companies accountable for your injuries or even the death of a loved one. If a drunk driver recently affected your life, get a call in our Lake City office.
We take drunk driving accident claims seriously. For example, we obtained $2,500,000 for a client who was a victim of a drunk driving semi-truck accident. That truck driver had a blood alcohol content (BAC) four times the legal limit, and we held parties accountable for the injuries to our client.
Alcohol Consumption and Driving
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), around 28 individuals lose their lives every day on U.S. roads due to drunk drivers, and one person dies every 52 minutes because another person got behind the wheel after having too much to drink.
Despite increased public awareness, national and state campaigns, pleas from families who have lost loved ones, and multiple options for alternative transportation, drunk driving is still a severe issue in our country and Florida today. In one recent year, 746 people lost their lives in crashes involving alcohol, drugs, or both in Florida.
While Florida’s legal definition of drunk driving is a BAC of 0.08 percent or greater, a BAC of far less can impair driving. Even though a driver may not face criminal charges for drunk driving, they may still be liable for your accident if it’s determined they have some amount of alcohol in their blood.
A BAC of 0.02 percent causes:
- Some loss of judgment
- Altered mood
- Decline in visual functions, specifically rapid tracking of a moving target decreases
- A decline in the ability to perform two tasks at the same time or to have divided attention
A BAC of 0.05 percent causes:
- Exaggerated behaviors
- The potential for loss of small-muscle control, such as focusing the eyes)
- Impaired judgment,
- Lowered alertness
- Release of inhibitions
- Diminished coordination
- Decreased ability to track moving objects
- Difficulty steering,
- Delayed or decreased response to emergency driving situations—such as a child darting out into the road or blowing a tire
A BAC of 0.08 percent causes:
- Muscle coordination becomes poor, which impacts balance, speech, vision, reaction time, and hearing
- Difficulty detecting danger
- Poor judgment
- Lack of self-control, reasoning, and memory
- Reduced concentration
- Short-term memory loss
- Diminished speed control
- Decreased information processing capability, for example, signal detection and visual search
- Impaired perception
A BAC of 0.10 percent causes:
- A noticeable decline in control and reaction time
- Slurred speech
- Poor coordination
- Slowed cognition
- Decreased ability to brake appropriately and maintain lane position
A BAC of 0.15 percent causes:
- Significantly decreased muscle control
- Vomiting may occur
- Marked loss of balance
- Severe impairment in vehicle control and attention to driving
- Severely diminished visual and auditory information processing necessary for driving
As you can see, a BAC of all different levels can hurt someone’s driving skills. Not knowing their BAC or how alcohol would impair their driving is no excuse.
Injuries Caused by Drunk Driving Accidents
Injuries arising from drunk driving accidents can be severe or even catastrophic. Even drivers who are under the legal BAC limit can cause serious injuries, which might include:
Sometimes drunk driving accidents end up with vehicles in flames. Victims who survive can face any degree of burn on any part of their body. Burns commonly cause scarring and disfigurement. They may require plastic surgery with skin grafts, which may risk infections and even more complications.
While bones are the most durable parts of the human body, the force of a car accident can fracture any bone.
Car accidents frequently break:
Some breaks require only minimal care, such as a few weeks in a cast or splint and over-the-counter pain medications. Others can require multiple surgeries, hospitalizations, narcotic pain meds, physical therapy and may never fully heal the way they were before the accident.
The head has little protection in motor vehicle accidents. Facial gashes and lacerations are common. A victim can suffer a fractured skull, a concussion, or an even more severe traumatic brain injury (TBI). TBIs can kill people. Those who survive may suffer personality changes, mood disorders, or seizure disorders, and they might never care for themselves again.
Spinal Cord Injuries (SCI)
Even though discs and vertebrae protect the spinal cord, it is not immune to injury in drunk driving accidents. It can become damaged, bruised, or severed, leading to temporary or permanent paralysis of limbs and bodily functions below the injury site. Those who suffer these injuries will need therapy and may require constant medically supportive care for the rest of their lives.
Soft Tissue Injuries
Soft tissue injuries such as whiplash may sound benign compared to other potential injuries. While they are less serious, victims with these injuries also have pain and sometimes require medical help to recover. In addition, some soft tissue injuries can take even longer than broken bones to heal.
Accidental and necessary amputations can arise from alcohol-related accidents. Severe accidents can cause limbs to be severed or traumatically injured. Even if they aren’t entirely severed, the trauma suffered can leave medical teams with no other option but to amputate. This often happens with crushing injuries or if a limb is left severely mangled.
Internal injuries can be among the most severe suffered in drunk driving accidents. Internal organs such as the spleen, liver, or lungs can become bruised and bleed. Internal bleeding of this magnitude can become fatal. Therefore, drunk driving accident victims need medical attention as soon as possible, in part to diagnose and treat any internal injuries or bleeding.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Drunk driving accident victims can also suffer invisible mental and emotional injuries, the most common being PTSD. Those who suffer from PTSD may have difficulties sleeping, concentrating, or maintaining relationships. They might also suffer from depression and anxiety. Many require cognitive therapy and medications. Even though such injuries are invisible, they can take just as long, if not longer, for victims to recover from.
No matter what type of injuries you suffer or the symptoms you have immediately following a drunk driver accident, it’s imperative that you seek medical attention right away. Many of these injuries have much better outcomes the sooner you treat them. Some are life-threatening and have no symptoms, so see a physician as quickly as possible.
Lake City Drunk Driving Accident FAQs
Won’t the Drunk Driver Already Face Penalties?
Yes, but they won’t help you directly.
If the drunk driver who caused your accident faced criminal charges, they can face multiple penalties.
For instance, if convicted, they may face:
For a first conviction:
- Imprisonment for six months or less
- Fines between $500 and $1,000
- For a BAC of 0.15 or more, or if there was a minor in the car, fines between $1,000 and $2,000 and imprisonment for not more than nine months.
For a second conviction:
- Imprisonment for nine months or less
- Fines between $1,000 and $2,000
- If BAC was more than 0.15, or if there was a minor in the car, imprisonment for not more than 12 months, and fines between $2,000 and $4,000
- If the second conviction was within five years of the last, imprisonment of at least ten days with a minimum of 48 hours of consecutive confinement
For a third conviction:
- If the third conviction is within ten years of the last, imprisonment of at least 30 days with a minimum of 48 hours of consecutive confinement
- If the third conviction is more than ten years after prior conviction, imprisonment for 12 months or less
- Fines between $2,000 and $5,000
- For a BAC of 0.15 or higher, or if there was a minor in the car, a minimum of $4,000 fine.
For fourth or subsequent conviction:
- A minimum of a $2,000 fine
- For a BAC of 0.15 or higher, or if there was a minor in the car, a minimum fine of $4,000
Suppose the drunk driver is a habitual or violent offender. In that case, they will face imprisonment of five years or less, or as provided in Florida Statutes.
Drunk drivers can also have their driver’s license revoked, depending on the seriousness of their infraction.
However, criminal penalties aren’t a substitute for the compensation you deserve for your damages. Therefore, no matter the conviction or criminal penalties the drunk driver who hit you faces, it won’t make up for your damages.
To receive compensation for your damages, such as pain and suffering, lost wages, and medical bills, you will need to file a claim. Your Lake City drunk driving accident attorney can file and pursue the claim for you. They will work to settle your claim for its full and fair value. However, if they can’t, they are experienced litigators willing to take your claim to trial if necessary.
What about Drivers Under the Influence of Non-Alcoholic Substances?
It’s not just alcohol that can impair drivers. Drivers can also face criminal charges and be subject to civil lawsuits for being under the influence of other substances that alter their ability to drive safely.
This can include:
- Over the counter medications
- Prescription drugs
- Illegal drugs
If you have reason to believe that the driver who caused your accident was impaired, bring it to the attention of your Lake City drunk driving accident attorney.
Involved in an Accident with a Drunk Driver? Contact an Experienced Lake City Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer Today
The Lake City drunk driving accident attorneys at Steven A. Bagen & Associates, P.A. have recovered hundreds of millions for our clients over the last 35 years. We will work tirelessly to provide you with the same level of service. Whether it’s settling your claim out of court or building a case to take to trial, you can count on our team to get you the maximum compensation you deserve for your claim.
Call (800) BAGEN LAW or contact us online today to book your no-obligation car accident case evaluation with an experienced Lake City drunk driving accident lawyer. During your consultation, we will assess the specifics of your accident to determine if your case might warrant a personal injury claim. If it does, we can handle all aspects of your claim from start to finish. If it doesn’t, we can advise you on your next steps.
Don’t handle your Lake City drunk driving accident claim on your own; reach out to experienced professionals who can help.
My experience was more than great, from the moment I acquired about their services to the moment my case was finalized and settled, there was steady communication, and I was consistently in the loop. They explain things to you in a way that you can understand and ensure that you are involved in the decision making. Everyone is super kind and stays in contact with you even after settling. They truly care about your well being and I will definitely keep them at the top of the list for any other cases.