Drinking and driving is one of the most irresponsible and reckless decisions an individual can make. The risk of causing a catastrophic collision is so high and the ease of calling a taxi cab or using the Uber app to get a ride home is so easy. Simply put, the risk is not worth the ramifications. Unfortunately, not everyone understands the impact of his or her decisions. A recent example our team of Miami car accident lawyers discovered was the heartbreaking loss of a 10-year-old girl who was killed in an accident caused by an intoxicated driver.
The tragic collision involved a drunk driver who neglected to stop at a stop sign and slammed into the passenger side of a Chevrolet. The 10-year-old girl was sitting in the front passenger seat and died at the scene of the collision.
Drunk Driving Accidents are Preventable
It is frustrating to read about the awful incidents like the one described above. An innocent passenger is killed through no fault of her own; her life taken due to the reckless and wanton actions of another driver. If only the at-fault driver had exercised more caution and simply not gotten behind the wheel of the vehicle, maybe this horrific incident could have been avoided entirely. That will likely be one of the questions that haunts the family members who have lost loved ones in drunk-driving-related accidents – if only the drunk driver had just stayed home.
Restitution in Drunk Driving Accidents
When someone is hurt badly or killed because someone else decided to drink and drive, the injured party, or the surviving loved one of the deceased victim, can pursue restitution in civil court. The civil justice system allows plaintiffs to pursue two types of damages in personal injury and/or wrongful death cases: compensatory damages and punitive damages.
Compensatory damages consist of medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. This means that if you or a loved one was seriously harmed in a drunk driving accident, you can seek to recover for the cost of medical care (including rehabilitative costs), reimbursement for the time missed from work, and the pain and suffering associated with your harm. In a wrongful death claim, the compensatory damages may include loss of future earnings, funeral expenses, and loss of services.
Punitive damages are different. They are intended to punish the at-fault party for their reckless and wanton conduct and serve as a deterrent to other future actions by other drivers. Florida Statute 768.72 requires that a “reasonable showing” be made to establish a foundation for pursuing punitive damages. Basically, this means that there must be evidence that the at-fault party’s conduct was so flagrant and gross that it constitutes a reckless disregard for human life or the safety of others.
The Florida legislature actually highlighted drunk driving cases as “uniquely qualified” for the pursuit of punitive damages by the injured party or representative of a wrongful death victim. In fact, the Florida Supreme Court stated in a 1976 case, Ingram v. Pettit, 340 So.2d 922 (Fl. 1976) that the voluntary act of impaired driving constitutes a “sufficiently reckless attitude for a jury to be asked to provide an award of punitive damages if it determines liability exists for compensatory damages.”
Speak to an Experienced Miami Car Accident Lawyer Today
If you or a loved one was seriously harmed by a drunk driver, or lost a loved one because of a drunk driver, contact the experienced Miami car accident lawyers at Gerson & Schwartz. We are here to help and offer free, confidential consultations.