While automobile insurance covers a driver for negligence in an auto accident even if the driver is under the influence of alcohol or drugs, cases involving drunk drivers tend to result in very serious injury or death. The insurance company is only responsible to protect the driver up to the limits of their insurance policy.
If an accident is caused by a driver being impaired due to alcohol or drugs, that driver can also be responsible for punitive damages. Punitive damages are not covered by insurance.
Someone who sells alcohol to an individual who then drinks, drives and causes a serious accident can also be civilly liable for providing alcohol to that driver. The negligence of a seller of alcohol is covered under Fla. Stat. 768.125 which is titled Liability for Injury or Damage Resulting From Intoxication.
Under this statute a person who sells or furnishes alcoholic beverages to a minor can be held liable if the minor becomes intoxicated and causes a serious accident. That liability only occurs when the seller of alcohol knows or has reason to know that the person to whom they are selling alcohol is not of lawful drinking age. Sellers of alcohol can also be held liable if they knowingly serve a person who is habitually addicted to the use of alcoholic beverages. In either of those instances, the seller can be held liable for injury or damage caused from the intoxication.
Persons who choose to drink and drive put their own lives and the lives of their passengers at risk but also put at risk any pedestrian or driver with whom they may come in contact. Lawyers who handle civil liability cases involving drunk drivers do so on a contingent fee basis where the lawyer is paid a percentage of recovery rather than charging up front legal fees.
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