Who actually pays the highest price for the tragedies caused by drunk drivers? Far too often in Florida and across the United States, it’s other drivers, their passengers, and innocent bystanders who pay the greater price for drunk driving. If you manage to survive a traffic accident with an intoxicated driver, you could survive with a serious brain injury, a spinal cord injury, broken arms, legs, or ribs, burns, disfigurement, or even permanent disability. The appropriate medical treatment and care for these kinds of devastating injuries can cost – over a lifetime – a million dollars or more. If you need that kind of help, where can you turn?
In Florida and in every other state, the victims of drunk drivers are entitled by law to receive full compensation for their healthcare expenses for as long as medical treatment is needed, for all wages lost due to the injuries, and for any other injury-related damages and expenses. If you are injured in an accident with a drunk driver, seek medical treatment immediately, and then take your case to an experienced personal injury lawyer, and in south Florida, to a good West Palm Beach personal injury attorney. Your attorney will thoroughly explain your legal rights and options, which might include filing a personal injury lawsuit.
Every year on streets and highways in the U.S., about 10,000 innocent people are killed and more than 250,000 are injured by impaired drivers. Those drunk drivers also cost the United States more than $50 billion every year. The penalties handed down to drunk drivers by the criminal justice system – incarcerations and fines – frankly cannot make up for the mayhem and damage drunk drivers cause, the injuries, and the thousands of deaths that happen needlessly because some people choose selfishly to drive under the influence.
WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO BE COMPENSATED?
If you are injured by a drunk or otherwise negligent driver in a south Florida car crash, you are “entitled” by Florida law to receive complete compensation, but don’t be confused about that. Entitlement does not mean that your compensation just magically appears one day in your mailbox or your bank account. To obtain what you’re “entitled” to, you’ll have to prove that you’ve been injured – by a specific drunk driver in a specific accident – and that you were not injured in some other way at some other time or place. In other words, you’ll need to retain the advice and services of an experienced personal injury attorney who can investigate the accident, the evidence, and the witnesses on your behalf and fight for the compensation and justice you need and deserve. If you have been injured, if the other driver was negligent, and if you and your attorney can prove it, you’ll be reimbursed.
Put your case in the hands of an experienced personal injury attorney immediately after being injured by an impaired driver. After an accident, witnesses quickly become forgetful, and evidence disappears or deteriorates over time. Thus, your lawyer needs to interrogate the witnesses and examine the evidence without delay, so do not wait to make the call. In all fifty states, a statute of limitations restricts the amount of time you have to take legal action after you’ve been injured, so if you don’t act at once, you could forfeit your right to seek compensation in the future. Florida is more generous than many states – you have four years after an accident with injuries to file a lawsuit. Don’t wait four years though. If you’ve been injured in traffic, speak to a good personal injury lawyer immediately.
What Will You Have To Prove?
If you are injured by a drunk driver and you choose to file a personal injury claim, you actually have a good chance to win the compensation you deserve. If a drunk driver has failed a breathalyzer examination or received a DUI conviction, it’s powerful evidence in your favor. Understand, however, that if you are injured, you have to prove only that the other driver was negligent; in other words, if you can prove negligence, it’s possible to win even if you do not or cannot prove that the other driver was legally too intoxicated to drive. But no matter how much cash a drunk driver pays or how long that driver is held behind bars, it is still the injury victims, in so many cases, who pay the highest penalties for drunk driving.
In Bakersfield, California, Michael Benge and his family are the victims of drunk driving. Michael’s wife, Jada, was 33 years old with three young girls when she died in 2004. A drunk driver killed her and severely injured her husband and daughters. “The pain is still there,” Michael Benge recently explained to KBFX and KBAK News. “My girls were 8, 9 and 12 at the time when they watched their mother die.”
Rebekah Bowers Sanders is also paying a high price for another person’s drunk driving. In 2015, Rebekah and her husband were on their way to Tulsa when an impaired driver changed their lives forever. Combined, they sustained broken ribs, arms, legs, a dislocated hip, a dislocated shoulder, a sprained wrist, a shattered wrist, ligament damage, and severe soft tissue bruises. Rebekah also sustained a broken eye socket with loss of vision in that eye. “I have yet to regain the vision in my right eye, and it is extremely unlikely that I will ever see out of it again. I will never get to look over my shoulder at my children playing in the backseat of the car,” she recently explained to KLFY News.
What Other Challenges Will You Face?
A drunk driver can change a family’s life – tragically, and for the rest of their lives – and there’s simply no way that thirty days in jail and a thousand-dollar fine can genuinely bring justice. For traumatic brain injury patients, the cost of outpatient therapy can run from $600 to $1,000 a day, and hospital-based rehab can cost $8,000 a day. Beyond their physical injuries, those hurt by impaired drivers also face psychological obstacles and challenges that can be beyond almost anyone’s ability to deal with. Many injury victims like Michael Benge and Rebekah Bowers Sanders wrestle every day with feelings of hopelessness, despair, low self-esteem, and fear of the future. Of course, no active and healthy person adjusts well to disability, especially when the disability happens abruptly and only because of a total stranger’s foolish determination to drive under the influence. The justice system grinds forward, and intoxicated drivers are fined and jailed for their actions, but in the bigger scheme of things, it’s the innocent victims and their families who endure the most severe penalties for driving under the influence.
The moment a traffic crash happens, you must seek medical help immediately for yourself and for any others who’ve been injured. You absolutely must have a doctor examine you after a traffic accident. Some types of injuries are not immediately apparent, and unless you are examined by a doctor, those injuries can later become serious medical problems. Don’t just try to shrug off a soreness or an ache. Seeing a doctor immediately is the way to protect yourself both medically and legally. If a drunk driver crashes into you, try to focus and remain calm. After summoning medical help, call the police. Obtain the other driver’s name, license plate number, a way to reach that driver, and his or her full insurance contact information. You must have this information. If the other driver is too drunk or too injured to help you, the police may be able to help. Make sure that you will be able to receive a copy of the police accident report.
Also, if you are involved in a collision with a drunk driver, take plenty of photos, or if you are unable to take them because you are injured, have someone else take pictures of the vehicles, the crash scene, and your own injuries. Pictures can be quite powerful evidence in many personal injury cases and might even in some cases lead to a quicker settlement. You’ll also have to keep all of your doctor’s appointments, and you’ll need copies of all of the paperwork – bills, reports, test results, and anything else that might be relevant to your accident and injury. You’ll not only have to prove that you were injured and that the other driver was negligent – you’ll also have to demonstrate the extent of your injuries so that a reimbursement sum can be set. Consult first with a good personal injury attorney before making any decision about legal action after an accident.
Where Can You Turn For Help?
It’s the victims who pay the real, long-term price when drunk drivers injure the innocent. Obviously, some losses cannot be reimbursed with any amount of cash. Nevertheless, you should let an experienced personal injury attorney advocate on your behalf and help you move forward constructively with your life after a serious injury. If you or someone in your family is injured in an accident with an intoxicated driver, consult with a good personal injury lawyer as quickly as you can, and in south Florida, speak at once with an experienced West Palm Beach personal injury attorney.