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The Drunk Driving Victim In Civil & Criminal Courts

If you are a victim of a drunk driver you will, in all likelihood, find yourself in both criminal court, and civil court.

Let’s address criminal court first. Driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol is a crime. As a victim of a drunk driver you will have to provide statements to the police, maybe a medical professional, and probably, a prosecutor.
A state prosecutor that represents the county where the incident occurred will seek to prosecute the drunk driver, who then becomes known as a criminal defendant. The drunk driver (defendant) faces jail or prison, loss of driving privileges, and often, a fine. For the criminal case you are known as the complaining witness, complainant, or victim. You are not a party to the case like in a civil action where you are deemed the plaintiff.

Many cases will plea bargain so the defendant will plead guilty and receive punishment. Some cases go to trial where you may have to testify. If you do have to testify at trial (or at a hearing) you will meet with the prosecutor and be prepared accordingly.

In a civil action against a drunk driver, you are the plaintiff filing a personal injury lawsuit. The greatest concern in Florida is that the no-fault insurance law may directly bear on the viability of a plaintiff’s lawsuit against a drunk driver.

This is how it typically breaks down:

– The initial $10,000 of injury damages must be covered by your “Personal Injury Protection” or PIP insurance.
– Medical Pay (“MedPay”) may be available to pay your bills over what PIP covers.

Your insurance company should try to collect these additional payments from the drunk driver’s insurance company; however, in many DUI cases the defendant does not have insurance or the insurance company tries to deny the claim.

Punitive damages, those which are designed to punish, are also a possibility; although not commonplace in most personal injury lawsuits. However, if the DUI results in the victim’s unfortunate death and the civil action is one of wrongful death, punitive damages are more likely to be granted to the plaintiff. Punitive damages would be in addition to economic and non-economic damages. Whether the driving while intoxicated civil case is a personal injury, or a wrongful death, punitive damages should be sought – even if there is a slim chance of success.

If you have been accused of driving under the influence, or were injured in a similar type of accident, , Goldman, Babboni & Walsh has trained and experienced attorneys to help you. Come in for a free case review. We believe better experience equals better results. Let us show you how by scheduling an appointment at [email protected].

Attorney David Goldman has a strong belief that everyone should be treated fairly and those with the means should do what they can to bring justice in all areas of our society. That belief has led him to help Florida's injured from being taken advantage of by corporations and insurance companies. Since 1989 David Goldman has been fighting for the rights of Floridians both as an attorney and by personally supporting our community.

The Drunk Driving Victim In Civil & Criminal Courts

Goldman Babboni Fernandez
Murphy & Walsh

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