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Tampa Workers' Compensation Attorney / Blog / Personal Injury / Breaking Down an Alcohol-Related Car Crash in Florida

Breaking Down an Alcohol-Related Car Crash in Florida


When the number of alcohol-related crashes spiked during the coronavirus pandemic, many experts hoped the increase was a one-off anomaly. Now, it appears the increase is permanent. The number of alcohol-related crashes has increased, and so has the amount of alcohol consumption. These dual increases are especially bad in Florida, which has one of the highest DUI Severity Scores in the nation, according to a recent report.

Usually, an alcohol-related crash is not an “accident.” People accidentally leave the lights on. They don’t accidentally consume alcohol to the point of intoxication, and then accidentally get behind the wheel. Therefore, a Tampa personal injury lawyer can obtain substantial compensation in these matters. This compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.

First Party Liability

Many people believe that alcohol impairment and intoxication are the same thing. But to a Tampa personal injury lawyer, the difference between the two is subtle, yet significant.

Alcohol impairment usually begins with the first sip of alcohol. This impairment includes clouded judgment and slow motor skills. People cannot safely operate motor vehicles unless their judgment is sound and their reactions are quick. Evidence of impairment usually includes physical symptoms, such as:

  • Bloodshot eyes,
  • Slurred speech,
  • Odor of alcohol,
  • Slow reflexes, and
  • Unsteady balance.

Individually, these items prove nothing. For example, an odor of alcohol simply means the tortfeasor (negligent driver) was near people who were drinking.

However, the burden of proof in a civil claim is only a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not). So, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

Causation is the other major element of an ordinary negligence claim. A Tampa personal injury lawyer must prove the breach substantially caused the victim’s damage. Other factors, like a wet road or a dark sky, might contribute to an alcohol-related wreck. But, in most cases, alcohol consumption substantially caused it.

If an emergency responder cited the tortfeasor for DUI, the negligence per se shortcut might apply. In Florida, tortfeasors who violate penal safety laws and cause crashes could be liable for damages as a matter of law.

Third Party Liability

Fundamentally, responsibility is the key issue in a negligence claim. Drivers are responsible for the wrecks they cause. If the driver illegally obtained the alcohol from a commercial provider, like a bar or restaurant, that provider is responsible as well. Actors cannot act unless they have realistic props, a properly-lit stage, and so on.

Illegal alcohol sales in Florida include underage, before/after hours, unlicensed, and habitual addiction sales. Evidence of habitual addition includes prior purchases at that location, the aforementioned physical symptoms, and statements the tortfeasor made to witnesses.

Vicarious liability is very important in alcohol-related crash claims. Frequently, these wrecks cause catastrophic (life-threatening) or fatal injuries. Many tortfeasors don’t have enough insurance to cover such losses. Vicarious liability gives victims another source of recovery.

Noncommercial providers, like party hosts, may also be vicariously liable for alcohol-related crash damages, under a theory like negligent undertaking or negligent supervision.

 Connect With a Detail-Oriented Hillsborough County Lawyer 

Injury victims are entitled to important financial benefits. For a confidential consultation with an experienced personal injury  lawyer in Tampa, contact Kobal Law. The sooner you reach out to us, the sooner we start working for you.



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