How a Drunk Driving Accident Attorney Can Help You Recover Damages
Often people who call our law firm for advice tell us they found our contact information by searching for a wrongful death attorney near me and the results serve up one of our wrongful death lawyers. Our wrongful death attorneys are local and represent families throughout Palm Beach and South Florida for injury claims that result in someone’s death. wrongful death lawyer David Shiner and the injury attorneys at our firm have the experience you are looking for to file your wrongful death lawsuit and take your case to court to win the best possible recovery.
Did you know that, under Florida law, a person who drives drunk and injures another may be both criminally and civilly liable? With criminal liability, a drunk driver may be sentenced to jail time, to pay fines, or to complete community service. With civil liability, the drunk driver must make the victim “whole” again—meaning, the drunk driver must compensate the victim financially for the harm he or she has suffered.
In a civil case, there are several types of monetary damages that may be awarded. For example, actual damages include medical bills, lost wages, the cost of making alterations to one’s home, and other specific amounts. The amount of actual damages awarded depends on the nature of the victim’s injuries. To receive actual damages, which are also called compensatory damages, a victim must provide evidence of injuries. Bills from various medical providers, employment records, invoices from home construction companies, photographs, and other documents are all commonly used to demonstrate the extent of one’s injuries.
Punitive damages may also be awarded in an injury claim. Whereas actual damages reflect the harm caused to the victim, punitive damages are awarded to punish the defendant and serve as a warning to others against engaging in similar behavior. In drunk driving cases, punitive damages may be awarded if the driver is grossly negligent and acts with a “wanton disregard for the rights of others.” This is also known as “legal malice.”
Florida recognizes two types of malice when analyzing punitive damages claims. Typically, malice must be found for punitive damages to be awarded. In addition to legal malice, actual malice may also lead to a punitive damages award. With actual malice, courts look for evil intent and hatred in the defendant’s actions.
In the majority of drunk driving cases, legal malice will be present. When a driver gets behind the wheel of a car after having several drinks, that driver is acting with a wanton disregard for the rights of others. In addition, these actions are grossly negligent. The effects of alcohol on drinking are well known, and numerous laws are in place to prohibit drunk driving. Yet, every year, thousands of Floridians drive drunk and injure or even kill others.
The amount of punitive damages awarded in a claim varies from case to case. If an intent to specifically harm the plaintiff cannot be proven, as is the case with most drunk driving cases, punitive damages are limited to three times the amount of compensatory damages that are awarded in a claim. Therefore, if a victim is awarded $150,000 in compensatory damages, punitive damages may reach $450,000, providing the victim with $600,000 in total damages.
If You Need to Speak With an Accident and Injury Attorney, Contact Shiner Law Group Today!
At the Shiner Law Group, our attorneys are experienced in numerous personal injury claims and have the experience necessary to help our clients obtain the maximum compensation available under Florida law. To schedule your free consultation, call 561-777-7700.