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While driving under the influence (DUI) is a criminal offense, and while police and local prosecutors will certainly become involved if a DUI incident leads to an auto accident, you should certainly still retain a personal injury lawyer if you’ve been injured in a car accident caused by a drunk driver.
As our personal injury lawyers know, prosecutors (representing the government) will manage the criminal case against the drunken driver; their goals of landing a conviction and making sure that the drunk driver is punished appropriately are intended to protect society as a whole. While the criminal proceedings might involve a determination of what restitution is to be made to you, the victim in the incident, it isn’t designed for that purpose, which is why we have civil courts in which you can bring a civil claim (likely of negligence) against the drunk driver who caused the accident in which you were injured.
Q What if I was partly at fault in the car accident but the other driver involved in the crash was legally intoxicated?[+] Expand
The State of Florida, just like many other states, has laws that deal with comparative and contributory forms of negligence. Regardless of whether or not you might have acted negligently and thereby contributed to a given car accident, if there was another negligent driver involved (particularly if such a driver was drunk at the time of the accident), you can still file a legal claim seeking compensation. Your negligence in the incident, if it is proven in court by the defendant, is important in that it will reduce, proportionately, the amount of money you are able to recover in compensation.
Again, to be clear, Florida law holds that a claimant’s contributory negligence does not bar his or her ability to recover economic damages.
Q Might I have a claim against the bar at which the drunk driver – who caused the accident in which I was injured – continuously served alcohol?[+] Expand
Yes. Bars, restaurants, etc., have a duty (both legal and ethical) to stop serving alcohol to people who are unfit to consume alcohol, including minors and alcoholics. Florida state law holds that a person who willfully and unlawfully sells or gives alcohol to a minor, or who knowingly serves alcohol to someone habitually addicted to alcohol, may be liable for any injury or damage caused by or resulting from the intoxication of the individual.
For example, let’s say John D., a known alcoholic, is served whiskey at a bar, then proceeds to leave the bar, get into his car, and get into a car accident, injuring somebody. The injured individual would have a legal claim against John D., but also against the bartender who knowingly, and unlawfully, served him.