Because of the relatively low cost and widespread availability of alcohol and illegal drugs, motor vehicle accidents involving drunk and drugged drivers are becoming all too common. When people consume alcohol or illegal drugs and then choose to get behind the wheel of a motor vehicle, the results can be catastrophic and sometimes deadly.
If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident caused by a drugged driver, you may be entitled to monetary compensation for all your injuries and damages under Florida law. Our experienced personal injury lawyers have the legal knowledge and expertise to help you prove the elements of your negligence claim and obtain the monetary compensation you need and deserve.
How Drugged Drivers Cause Accidents
Generally speaking, drugs can be classified into stimulants and depressants. Stimulants speed up a person’s central nervous system functioning, while depressants slow down and hinder a person's central nervous system functioning. Alcohol, for example, is a depressant that slows down a person's central nervous system.
Both stimulants and depressants can severely impact a driver’s abilities behind the wheel of a car. Drugs and alcohol can cause blurry vision and affect a person's perception, including depth perception. Common symptoms of drug use include the following:
- Dazed expression
- Bloodshot eyes
- Enlarged pupils
- Slurred speech
When people operate their motor vehicles under the influence of drugs or alcohol, one or more of the following types of accidents may occur on the roadway:
- Collisions with objects (such as guardrails, walls, or buildings)
- Collisions with pedestrians
- Collisions with other motor vehicles on the roadway
Elements of Negligence
In order to prove negligence in a motor vehicle accident involving a drugged or drunk driver, the injured plaintiff must prove the following elements of negligence:
- Duty – Whenever a driver gets behind the wheel of a motor vehicle, he or she owes a duty of care to all other drivers on the roadway (as well as to pedestrians) to drive in a reasonably safe, careful, and prudent manner for the conditions then-and-there existing. In negligent driving cases, drivers are held to the standard of care of a "reasonably prudent driver" operating a motor vehicle under the same or similar conditions or circumstances.
- Breach (or Violation) of the Applicable Duty of Care – This means that the driver failed to abide by the applicable duty of care. For example, if a driver operates a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the driver poses a risk to everyone else operating a motor vehicle on the roadway. If the impaired driver is involved in a motor vehicle accident in which the driver injures another person, the driver may be deemed negligent for having violated the applicable duty of care.
- Causation – The injured plaintiff must show that the impaired driver’s breach of the applicable duty of care factually and legally resulted in injuries and damages.
- Damages – Damages in drugged driving cases consist of both and noneconomic damages. Economic damages are those types of damages that can be readily calculated in dollars and cents – such as medical bills and lost wages. On the other hand, noneconomic damages, such as pain, suffering, inconvenience, and permanency, are more subjective and do not have a hard-and-fast number associated with them.
Every driver owes a duty to other drivers (and pedestrians) on the roadway to drive in a careful and reasonably prudent manner. When a driver gets behind the wheel of a motor vehicle after consuming illegal drugs, he or she is in breach of the applicable duty of reasonable care.
Therefore, when a drugged driver causes a motor vehicle accident that results in injuries and damages to another vehicle driver or pedestrian, then the drugged driver may be deemed at fault, or negligent, for causing the motor vehicle accident.
Although an injured plaintiff is technically suing the drugged driver in an accident case, the drugged driver’s motor vehicle insurance policy will likely provide the necessary insurance coverage to compensate the injured plaintiff for the injuries and damages he or she sustained.
Types of Damages Available to Injured Victims in Florida Drugged Driving Cases
Injured victims in Florida drugged driving cases may be able to receive some or all the following types of damages as part of their recovery in a personal injury lawsuit:
- Compensation for medical bills and physical therapy bills
- Compensation for lost wages and time missed from work
- Compensation for past, present, and future pain and suffering
- Compensation for mental anguish and emotional distress
- Compensation for psychological or psychiatric treatment
- Compensation for loss of earning capacity
- Compensation for loss of consortium, companionship, or spousal support
- Compensation for (available only under the most egregious of circumstances)
- Wrongful death damages (if applicable)
It is important to note that in St. Petersburg drugged driving cases, the defendant driver’s insurance company is not on your side. Generally speaking, insurance adjusters will try to downplay an accident victim’s injuries and claim that certain injuries were actually the result of pre-existing conditions or degenerative changes rather than from the motor vehicle accident. For this reason, it is extremely important for anyone hurt in an accident caused by a drugged driver to contact an attorney immediately.
Contact a St. Petersburg Personal Injury Attorney Today to Discuss Your Case
Remember that insurance companies are, above all, businesses, and their primary goal is not compensating you for your injuries or making you whole. Our experienced Florida personal injury lawyers know the tricks and tactics that insurance adjusters use to try to undervalue cases and will be able to overcome those defenses to help you maximize your recovery.
If you have been injured in a Florida motor vehicle accident as a result of someone else’s negligence, our experienced attorneys may be able to help you obtain the monetary compensation you need and deserve under Florida law. To schedule a free consultation and case evaluation with a Florida personal injury lawyer, please call us at 727-451-6900 or online.