West Palm Beach Drugged Driver Car Accident Lawyers

When someone drives under the influence of drugs, they put other people on the road at risk of a serious car accident. It’s unlawful to operate a motor vehicle when your faculties and capabilities have been impaired by an illegal substance, a prescription, or even an over-the-counter drug. It’s a careless decision that can result in severe injuries and fatalities.

If you were the victim of a drugged driver car crash, contact Schuler, Weisser, Zoeller, Overbeck & Baxter P.A. for assistance with your insurance claim or lawsuit. We’ll help you get the financial compensation you deserve and hold the other driver liable for their actions.

Our attorneys are highly skilled at investigating and navigating drugged driving cases, and we’re ready to help. To find out more about legal services or schedule a free consultation, call 561.689.8180 and speak with one of our West Palm Beach drugged driver accident lawyers.

Driving Under the Influence of Drugs

Florida laws consider a DUI drug offense as driving under the influence of harmful chemicals or controlled substances. It’s just as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol and comes with similar penalties.

Under the influence refers to a person whose normal faculties become impaired due to ingesting a drug. It must have some sort of impact on their physical or mental abilities to operate a motor vehicle.

Harmful chemicals are recreational drugs that individuals will inhale, ingest, or huff to get high. They include isopropyl alcohol, nitrous oxide, and other such substances you can find in chemical solvents.

Controlled substances include a range of drugs that fall under five separate categories, depending on the potential for addiction and abuse. Examples include:

  • Hallucinogens
  • Opioids
  • Cannabinoids
  • Stimulants
  • Benzodiazepines

Even if you take an over the counter medication, you can become impaired and increase the risk of a car accident. Any drug, legal or illegal, has the potential to affect someone’s ability to drive safely. When you’re under the influence of a controlled substance, harmful chemical, prescription drug, or over the counter medicine, you could experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Decreased eye-hand coordination
  • Difficulty concentrating on driving
  • Slowed reaction time
  • Limited motor skills
  • Drowsiness
  • Blurred vision
  • Poor decision-making skills
  • Altered perception
  • Loss of consciousness

Unfortunately, driving under the influence of drugs can prevent someone from practicing good judgment and making the right decisions. It’s especially difficult to respond correctly to an emergency. Drugged driving creates a dangerous situation for the motorist and everyone around them on the road. If you get hurt in an accident, you have the right to hold them accountable.

File An Insurance Claim for Compensation of Your Damages

The no-fault system in Florida requires injured victims of car accidents to turn to their own auto insurance company first for compensation of their damages. Damages are the expenses and losses related to an injury. Personal injury protection (PIP) is coverage on every driver’s policy that provides payment for medical expenses and lost wages.

The minimum PIP limit is $10,000. You have the option of purchasing a higher limit. You can use up to 80% of it towards your medical costs and up to 60% of it for lost wages if you’re unable to return to your job due to your injury. There’s also a limit of $5,000 that can go towards death benefits for surviving family members that have to pay for funeral and burial costs.

If you want to file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company, you must meet a serious injury threshold. According to FL statute 627.737, an accident victim can seek damages for mental anguish, pain and suffering, and any inconvenience caused by bodily harm if the injury results in at least one of the following:

  • Permanent and significant scarring or disfigurement;
  • Permanent injury other than disfigurement or scarring;
  • Significant and permanent loss of a vital bodily function; or
  • Death.

Liability insurance provides compensation for an injured party’s damages after an accident. If the person under the influence of drugs has auto insurance with liability coverage, you could file a claim for the following damages:

  • Medical bills
  • Lost wages
  • Pain and suffering
  • Car repair or replacement costs
  • Out of pocket expenses
  • Mental anguish
  • Disability or disfigurement

If they don’t carry liability insurance and your PIP coverage doesn’t fully compensate you for your damages, you can file a UM claim. Uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM) is a form of insurance available when the at-fault driver doesn’t have auto insurance or high enough limits for an injured victim’s expenses. You can seek the following damages in a UM claim:

  • Medical bills
  • Out of pocket expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Car repair or replacement costs
  • Pain and suffering

Since things like mental anguish are difficult to calculate, insurance companies will typically use the following factors to come up with a fair settlement amount to offer:

  • The severity of the injury
  • Lost wages due to inability to work
  • Length of the recovery period
  • Total medical costs incurred
  • Availability of relevant evidence proving fault
  • If there was a full recovery or permanent disability or impairment due to the injury
  • Coverage limits listed on all insurance policies
  • Effect of the accident on daily routine

Even if you believe your actions were partially responsible for the accident occurring, you shouldn’t readily admit it to others, such as the insurance company or the other driver. Any degree of fault could result in reduced compensation from an insurance settlement.

Under the pure comparative negligence rule, your total damages will decrease proportionately to the percentage of blame you share. For instance, if you incurred $100,000 in damages but were 20% at fault for the car crash, you’re only entitled to a maximum of $80,000 in compensation.

Hold the Drugged Driver Responsible With a Lawsuit

Drugged driving is a serious criminal offense in Florida. Depending on the circumstances, someone could face expensive fines and jail time if they get convicted of DUI. If you believe you deserve monetary compensation, you can file a lawsuit against the driver.

It’s crucial that you pay attention to the deadline for suing someone in the civil court system. There’s a four-year statute of limitations for car accident lawsuits. That means you have four years from the crash date to pursue legal action; otherwise, you lose your right to compensation.

Besides seeking damages, such as medical bills and pain and suffering, you can also seek punitive damages. Punitive damages are a punishment against the at-fault party for their actions. You must prove with clear and convincing evidence that they exhibited acts of intentional misconduct or gross negligence.

Intentional misconduct refers to the defendant’s knowledge that their actions would probably result in someone else’s injuries, and despite knowing this, they moved forward with their actions anyway.

Gross negligence is reckless conduct and the indifference towards another person’s safety, rights, or life.

If you can prove to a jury that the drugged driver showed either of these acts, you could potentially win a financial award for punitive damages. Hiring a West Palm Beach drugged driver accident lawyer might increase your chance of winning your case. At Schuler, Weisser, Zoeller, Overbeck & Baxter P.A., we know how to prove fault and where to locate sufficient evidence to use against someone at trial.

How to Pursue a Wrongful Death Lawsuit

According to FL statute 768.19, the definition of wrongful death is the death of someone that another person’s negligence, wrongful act, breach of contract, or default actions caused. If your loved one died in a drugged driver car accident, you could file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver for their reckless behavior.

You must be the personal representative of the deceased’s estate to pursue a wrongful death case. That person must represent the interests of the estate and any surviving family members, such as:

  • Spouse, children, or parents; and
  • An adoptive sibling or blood relative who is wholly or partially dependent on the deceased.

The statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death suit in Florida is two years. The clock begins ticking on the date the victim died due to the accident or their fatal injury.

The following damages are available to the estate:

  • Medical and funeral costs
  • Lost benefits and wages, including what the deceased would have earned if they survived the crash
  • Lost earnings the estate could have collected if the victim were still alive

Surviving family members can seek the following damages:

  • Emotional pain and suffering associated with losing a child
  • The value of services and support surviving family depended on from the deceased
  • Loss of guidance, protection, and companionship
  • Medical and funeral expenses paid for by a surviving family member

Contact Us

The West Palm Beach car accident lawyers from Schuler, Weisser, Zoeller, Overbeck & Baxter P.A. will dedicate their time and attention to your case. We’ll remain by your side throughout your entire case to provide support and guidance. Our team is available 24/7 to meet the needs of your schedule. You’ll be able to reach us at a convenient time for you.

We have the experience, knowledge, and resources to hold people liable for their negligent actions. We’ll protect your rights and fight hard for the maximum compensation you deserve. You should have the opportunity to seek justice for the suffering you endured. Call us at 561.689.8180 to schedule a free consultation. We’ll meet with you to discuss the details of your drugged driving car accident and determine the best legal options to pursue.

Last Updated : December 8, 2023

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