The Five Kinds of Driving Impairment
Driver error causes over 90 percent of the car crashes in Florida. Many times, that error involves an operational mistake. Speeding, making an illegal lane change, and tailgating are the three big ones. Typically, however, the errors involves one of the vice types of impairment, as outlined below.
Damages in a Port St. Lucie vehicle wreck claim usually includes compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Additional punitive damages may be available as well.
New York legislators passed the nation’s first DUI law a little over a hundred years ago. Drunk driving was a serious problem then, and it is even a more serious problem today. IN fact, alcohol causes about a third of the fatal crashes in Florida.
Victims may use direct or circumstantial evidence to establish liability in these situations. If the tortfeasor (negligent driver) was charged with DUI, the tortfeasor may be liable for the aforementioned damages as a matter of law. Alternatively, victim/plaintiffs may use circumstantial evidence, such as bloodshot eyes and erratic driving, to establish alcohol impairment.
Additionally, Florida has a dram shop law which holds alcohol providers responsible for car crash damages, in some cases.
Many people would never think about drinking and driving, but they have no problem driving while fatigued. But drowsiness and alcohol affect the brain the same way. Driving after eighteen consecutive awake hours is like driving with a .05 BAC level.
Drowsy driving is not illegal. So, victim/plaintiffs must typically use circumstantial evidence to establish liability. In addition to physical symptoms, such as bloodshot eyes, other evidence, like the time of day or night, may be relevant as well.
Fatigued driving is especially an issue among long-haul truck drivers. The shipping or transportation company may be liable for damages in these situations.
Substance abuse, mostly marijuana and prescription drugs, cause almost as many car crashes as alcohol use. Other impairing substances include hard street drugs, like cocaine or LSD, and certain over-the-counter medicines, such as doxylamine (Unisom) and diphenhydramine (Aleve PM and Benadryl).
It may be legal to take these medicines. But it is always illegal, and unsafe, to drive while under their influence. The DUI law applies to drugged drivers, so some drugged tortfeasors may be liable for damages as a matter of law. Circumstantial evidence is admissible in other cases.
The doctor who prescribed the medicine or the pharmacy which sold it may be responsible for damages in these situations, but such claims are difficult to establish.
Alcohol, fatigue, and drugs primarily affect both mental acuity and motor skills. Distracted driving has basically the same effect. For example, drivers who use hand-held cell phones take their eyes off the road (visual distraction), take a hand off the wheel (manual distraction), and take their minds off driving (cognitive distraction).
Florida lawmakers recently passed a limited hands-free law. Tortfeasors who violate this law and cause crashes are presumptively negligent. In other cases, such as using a hands-free cell phone, circumstantial evidence may establish liability. Such evidence includes text message and phone call logs.
Similarly, non-device distraction matters, such as eating while driving, almost always involve circumstantial evidence claims.
Many Floridians deal with chronic conditions, such as epilepsy and heart disease, which may cause a sudden loss of consciousness. These episodes often trigger extremely dangerous loss-of-control collisions.
The state sometimes suspends drivers’ licenses in these instances. If the tortfeasor drove on a suspended license, the tortfeasor may be liable for damages as a matter of law. In other cases, circumstantial evidence, such as medical records, may be admissible.
Sometimes, a doctor or clinic may be legally responsible for damages, especially if the doctor did not report the illness to authorities.
Connect with an Aggressive Lawyer
Impaired drivers often cause serious injuries. For a free consultation with an experienced Port St. Lucie personal injury lawyer, contact Eighmie Law Firm, P.A. Lawyers can connect victims with doctors, even if they have no money or insurance.