The Five Kinds of Driving Impairment
Most of the vehicle collisions in Tampa are not “accidents.” Instead, driver error causes almost all of these incidents. Many times, the tortfeasor (negligent driver) is impaired in some way. Compensation tends to be rather high in these cases. These tortfeasors generally know they should not get behind the wheel, yet they choose to drive anyway.
This compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Depending on the facts, a Tampa car accident attorney may have several legal options, as outlined below.
Since the 1990s, authorities have cracked down on “drunk drivers.” Yet alcohol still causes about a third of the fatal car crashes in Tampa. This socially acceptable substance gives people an unnatural sense of well-being and euphoria and sometimes, as we all know, people who drink alcohol do not make good judgements. New research has shown just how precisely alcohol can impair your motor skills.
In terms of legal liability, if the tortfeasor violated the DUI law and was charged and convicted, the tortfeasor may be responsible for damages as a matter of law. In pure alleged impairment cases, circumstantial evidence of the driver’s impairment, such as bloodshot eyes and erratic driving, may be admissible to prove liability.
Additionally, Florida has a “dram shop” law. This provision holds bars, restaurants, and other commercial alcohol providers liable for car wreck damages in some cases.
Prescription drugs like Xanax and OxyContin and old-school narcotics like cocaine and heroin cause most of the “drugged driving” crashes in Hillsborough County but often tortfeasors get loaded with over-the-counter medicines, such as Aleve PM or NyQuill. Once again, in terms of making a claim, both direct and circumstantial evidence is available.
In some jurisdictions, officers make almost as many arrests for drugged driving as alcohol-related driving. Both these behaviors violate the DUI law. Circumstantial evidence includes current prescriptions, open pill bottles in the vehicle, and physical symptoms of drug use.
The doctor or pharmacy which provided the drugs may be responsible for damages in these situations. But these claims can be difficult to establish in court.
Alcohol and drowsiness have roughly the same effect on the brain. In fact, driving after eighteen consecutive awake hours is like driving with a .05 BAC level. Alcohol and drowsiness have something else in common. There is no quick fix for intoxication or fatigue. Drinking coffee, rolling down the window, blasting from the car stereo AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck”, and other such efforts do not cure drowsiness. They only increase alertness for a few minutes.
Fatigued driving is not against the law, so victims must use circumstantial evidence to establish ordinary negligence. Evidence of fatigue includes the time of day or night, the tortfeasor’s statements about fatigue, and physical symptoms, like bloodshot eyes.
Many people deal with manageable chronic illnesses, such as diabetes and heart disease. For the most part it’s possible to keep a lid on symptoms. But these conditions may cause sudden unconsciousness. If that happened while the person is driving, the result could be a dangerous loss-of-control collision.
Normally, the DMV suspends drivers’ licenses in these cases. If the tortfeasor’s license was suspended, the tortfeasor may be liable for damages as a matter of law. Otherwise, circumstantial evidence, such as medical records, may establish ordinary negligence.
Most people agree that it is dangerous to multitask while driving, especially with regard to things like texting and driving. Yet most drivers also admit that they engage in this behavior, at least occasionally.
Florida lawmakers recently enacted a limited hands-free law. Tortfeasor who violate this law and cause crashes may be responsible for damages as a matter of law. In other situations, such as hands-free cell phone use, circumstantial evidence, such as call or text message logs, may be admissible.
Contact Experienced Tampa Lawyers
Impaired drivers often cause serious vehicle collisions. For a free consultation with an experienced car accident attorney in Tampa, contact The Matassini Law Firm, P.A. We do not charge upfront legal fees in negligence cases.