An alleged drunk driver who fled from the scene of a deadly crash in Sarasota this spring was arrested on charges related to the crash, including DUI manslaughter and leaving the scene of crash with death and serious bodily injury, as well as unrelated drug trafficking charges.
Authorities believe alcohol was a key factor in the crash, which killed a 70-year-old woman and critically injured her infant grandson. The driver suspected of DUI, as well as another motorist, sustained minor injuries.
Options for Cape Coral DUI Wrongful Death Claims
- The victims’ own auto insurer(s), through PIP, or personal injury protection. F.S. 627.736 allows for up to $10,000 in damages for medical bills and up to 60 percent of one’s gross lost wages – regardless of fault. It also allows for up to $5,000 in death benefits, which is in addition to any medical and disability benefits provided under the policy.
- The driver’s auto insurer. Because Florida is a no-fault state, one must prove both fault and the serious injury threshold, as noted in F.S. 627.737, in order to file a claim for damages with the at-fault driver’s liability insurance company. If the claim is denied or a settlement offer is too low, the case may proceed on track to a civil trial, though most claims are settled as a result of negotiation prior to trial.
- The owner of the vehicle. Vehicle owners can be held either directly or vicariously liable under a number of legal theories – even if that owner wasn’t the person driving. Car owners can be held directly liable under theories like negligent entrustment. They can also be held vicariously liable under the dangerous instrumentality doctrine, which holds motor vehicles are inherently dangerous instruments, and thus if a vehicle owner voluntarily allows someone else to drive it, they can be held responsible if that person drives it recklessly.
- The employer of the vehicle driver. If the drunk driver happened to be on-the-clock or doing some work in furtherance of his employer at the time of the crash, the employer can be held vicariously liable for the driver’s negligence under the legal theory of respondeat superior.
- The vendor(s) who served alcohol to the driver. Such claims are allowable under Florida’s dram shop law, F.S. 768.125, which admittedly is far more restrictive than those in other states. It allows for alcohol vendors who serve to minors (under 21) or those known to be habitually addicted to alcohol to be held liable for a drunk driving accident caused by that patron while intoxicated on drinks the vendor served.
- The victims’ uninsured/underinsured auto insurance policy. In cases where a drunk driver may not have the required amount of insurance – or that insurance isn’t enough to fully compensate for one’s losses, a UM/UIM claim may be filed with one’s own auto insurer. Although this type of coverage is not mandated in Florida, insurers are required to offer it – and insured’s have to sign in writing to decline it. It comes standard with every policy, not to exceed the bodily injury liability coverage.