Dual Fatal Alcohol-Related Wreck in Tampa
A motorist admitted she was “tipsy” when she barreled across the center line and smashed into two oncoming vehicles.
Investigators state that a 29-year-old woman from St. Petersburg was southbound on the Bayside Bridge when she crossed the median and crashed into a northbound vehicle and a northbound motorcycle. A passenger in that car and the motorcycle rider were killed instantly.
The St. Petersburg woman, who had a BAC of .191 and told investigators she was drinking at a bar on the north side of the bridge, now faces DUI and related charges.
Evidence in Alcohol-Related Crash Claims
Depending on the facts, a Tampa personal injury attorney basically has two options to obtain fair compensation in an alcohol-related crash claims. Both these options require evidence.
The first theory, ordinary negligence, is essentially a lack of reasonable care. Consuming alcohol arguably violates the duty of care. Alcohol is a depressant which slows motor skills. Moreover, alcohol gives people a sense of euphoria. So, they often make poor choices.
These impairing effects begin with the first drink. Evidence of prior alcohol consumption typically includes:
- Erratic driving prior to the wreck,
- Tortfeasor’s (negligent driver’s) point of departure (e. did the tortfeasor come from a place that served alcohol),
- Physical symptoms, like bloodshot eyes or slurred speech, and
- Tortfeasor’s statements about alcohol consumption.
A “tipsy” admission is certainly evidence of alcohol consumption. Given the low burden of proof (a preponderance of the evidence, or more likely than not), such an admission might be the only thing needed.
The second theory, negligence per se, is violation of a safety law. Tortfeasors who violate penal safety laws, such as the DUI law, could be liable for damages as a matter of law.
Although evidence is not needed to probe liability in these cases, evidence is usually relevant to the amount of damages jurors award. Evidence in DUI negligence per se cases includes:
- Previous DUIs: A tortfeasor’s driving or criminal record is usually admissible in a civil damages claim, especially if the tortfeasor says s/he is a good driver or s/he has a good driving record.
- High BAC Level: The tortfeasor’s BAC level in the above case is well above the stumbling drunk level. As a general rule, at three times the legal limit (.24), most people are unconscious. At four times the legal limit (.32), most people are dead because of alcohol poisoning.
- Prior Warnings: Tortfeasors who ignore warnings intentionally put other people at risk. Alcohol servers normally warn people when they have had too much to drink. Friends might do the same thing.
Compensation in an alcohol-related wreck usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.
Wrongful Death Claims
Financial compensation, no matter how large, cannot make up for a premature death, especially if someone else’s negligence caused that death. But judges only have the power to award financial compensation. And, the money helps survivors carry on.
As is the case in most other states, Florida’s wrongful death law typically limits recovery to pecuniary losses, such as:
- Lost future financial support,
- Burial and funeral expenses,
- Lost future emotional support,
- Decedent’s pain and suffering,
- Parental pain and suffering (if the decedent is a child), and
- Decedent’s pain and suffering.
Family members and other survivors might also be able to obtain compensation for their own grief and suffering, under a theory like negligent infliction of emotional distress.
Count on an Experienced Lawyer
Drunk drivers usually cause serious injuries. For a free consultation with an experienced Tampa car accident lawyer, contact Mark H. Wright, PLLC. Attorneys can connect victims with doctors, even if they have no money or insurance.