You have been hit by a drunk driver and your world has quickly changed. Under the laws of many states, drunk driving is considered gross negligence and thus you can recover for your injuries, losses, pain & suffering and more AND also seek PUNITIVE damages. There are very crucial hurdles and legal issues to recover under insurance policies and excess exposure. Make sure you hire a capable lawyer. John and his firm recognizes how drunk driving changes lives in an instant. If you’ve been a victim, call John.
If you are too drunk to drive, call John or his answering service 24/7. He will help you get a cab. Life is too important… not just yours’, but the lives of all of the potential victims you may encounter.
Punitive damages are designed to PUNISH and are, accordingly, rarely allowed. It is well settled that punitive damages are appropriate in cases where negligence is coupled with intoxication. Ingram v. Pettit, 340 So. 2d 922 (Fla. 1976)(“[W]e affirmatively hold that the voluntary act of driving ”while intoxicated” evinces, without more, 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.”); See also, Zuckerman v. Robinson, 846 So. 2d 1257 (Fla. 4th DCA 2003)(Legislature has singled out DUI cases as uniquely qualified for punitive damages); Matalon v. Lee, 847 So. 2d 1077 (Fla. 4th DCA 2003); D’Amario v. Ford Motor Co., 806 So. 2d 424 (Fla. 2001).
The Florida legislature has made exceptions to the limitations on punitive damages with relation to cases involving an intoxicated defendant. Florida Statute § 768.736 states that in cases involving a drunk defendant the burden of proof for establishing punitive damages is the “greater weight of evidence standard” as opposed to the more difficult “clear and convincing evidence” standard. Moreover, § 768.736 states that the limits on the amount of punitive damages that an injured plaintiff can recover does not apply to cases involving intoxicated defendants.
If the negligence of another party can be proved, the injured party may be entitled to monetary compensation from the party at fault. And oftentimes, insurance covers the loss.
You may be able to recover:
Diminution of Value of Property
Past Medical Expenses
Future Medical Expenses
Money Spent on Care and Treatment
Money Lost because of Injury
Compensation for Pain
Compensation for Disability
Compensation for Loss of Capacity for Enjoyment of Life
Compensation for Physical Impairment and Loss of Use
Compensation for Scarring or Disfigurement
Loss of Earnings / Wage Loss
Loss of Capacity to Earn
Damages to Spouse
Damages to Children
Get to a doctor and document your injuries. Not only does being proactive help your health, but insurance carriers and their lawyers always look to use evidence against you- how long you took to get to a doctor, what you complained about or didn’t complain about and they will comb through your records in painful detail. Go to the doctor, be honest and detailed.
Fill out any available accident reports and police reports. Ask for a copy. Then, call your insurance carrier and make a claim. Be careful what you say. All too often, injury victims will say they are “fine” or “not that bad” or otherwise be polite and that will haunt then if their injuries take a turn for the worse. The ER will only really tell you if you have broken bones or major issues, but go and be honest. Hospital emergency rooms tend to leave the bulging discs, herniated discs, shoulder tears and the like to later treating doctors.
Many of our clients are hurting, struggling and hoping they get better, but aren’t. You get one shot at recovery. Lawyers must make sure the insurance companies are acting fairly. John worked for eight years defending these claims for these companies and big businesses and could write a book about ways they use your desire to be fair and reasonable against you. He now solely works for injury victims like you.
While all lawyers are allowed to advertise and anyone can basically handle a personal injury case, only Board Certified Civil Trial Lawyers are allowed to identify themselves as an “expert” or as “specialist” in this area. Certification is the highest level of recognition by The Florida Bar of the competency and experience of attorneys in the area by the Supreme Court of Florida. It also means the lawyer is known for trials- pushing beyond low offers by defendants, passed a peer review and passed a tough exam. Most cases do not get that far, but it is good to have a lawyer with all of the tools in their arsenal.
Insurance carriers try to negotiate every dollar they can, because every $100 means millions in the end to their Board of Directors. Attorneys matter. Defendants and their carriers change their game plan when an experienced lawyer is involved. For that reason – and the misinformation by TV lawyers and referral services- is why people should select lawyers carefully. Also, make sure it is the lawyer who shows up to meet with you and not a mere investigator. You are haring a lawyer and deserve their time. Also, ask for sample closing costs. Some lawyers charge for faxes, phone calls, scanning, postage, “in house courier” charges and even interest in these charges.
Because of the economy, more lawyers are jumping into personal injury and should stick to what they know. Personal injury law requires knowledge about medical science and biomechanics (the forces on a body in a wreck or a fall) far greater and more specific than you’d think. The other side has doctors and millions on their side to say nothing is wrong or fight the claim.
We invite you to review our verdicts, our accolades and awards and what clients have to say about us and give us a call for a free consultation where our lawyers will sit down with you personally. John represents clients in Florida, Georgia and Alabama with passion and compassion. He can be emailed at [email protected] or call us at (904) 444-4444.