The Office of the Attorney General (AG) runs a Victim Compensation Fund which helps victims of violent crimes pay for expenses related to the crime. Driving under the influence (DUI) Crashes are one of the many crimes classified as violent crimes under Florida law.
If you were hit by a drunk driver while driving your vehicle, walking or even riding your bicycle you may be able to have some of your bills from the crash paid through the Victim Compensation Fund.
Who is Considered a Victim?
To be considered a victim under the Florida statutes, you can be the person who was injured in the automobile wreck involving a drunk or impaired driver or a minor present at the scene of the crime who has suffered from psychological or psychiatric injury as a result of the DUI crash. You can also be a surviving spouse, parent, child or sibling of someone who was killed by a drunk driver. Others may qualify for support on behalf of their loved one who lost their life as a result of the drunk driving crash.
How Do I Qualify?
The Bureau of Victim Compensation has certain requirements you must meet to be eligible for assistance. The following requirements were selected from the Victim Compensation Brochure created by the Office of the AG.
- Crime must be reported to law enforcement within 72 hours
- Victim must suffer personal physical injury or death as a result of the crime
- Application must be filed with the AG’s Office within 1 year of the crime absent a showing of good cause
- Victim must fully cooperate with law enforcement, the State Attorney’s Office and the AG’s Office
- Victim must not have been engaged in unlawful activity at the time of the crime
- Victim’s conduct must not have contributed to the situation that brought about his or her injuries
- Other requirements regarding prior criminal conduct may apply
There is no cost to apply for compensation and there is an appeals process for those who are initially denied. If you are considering applying for compensation, you should strongly consider pursuing a civil claim against the driver who caused you injuries. We are happy to answer any questions you may have about the process of suing a drunk driver and his or her insurance company. It is vital that drunk drivers be held accountable for their poor decisions.
What Reimbursement Can I Get?
The Victim Compensation Fund offers compensation for a host of costs incurred by victims of violent crimes. Someone recovering from a DUI crash may seek compensation for the following costs:
- Wage loss for time he or she had to miss work while in the hospital
- Loss of support for people who were dependent on someone killed by a drunk driver
- Medical and dental expenses associated with diagnosis and treatment of injuries
- Funeral and burial expenses for family members of someone killed in a DUI crash
- Mental health and grief counseling
- Disability allowance when the injured victim is permanently disabled
Note: It is important to keep documentation of your expenses so you can prove to the Office of the AG, judge or jury how much the collision has cost you. Don’t throw away your bills and receipts.
There are caps on how much any one victim can recover through the Victim Compensation Fund. There are other means of being reimbursed for losses associated with an accident caused by a drunk or drug impaired driver though.
Restitution is a means of being reimbursed directly from the driver who caused your injuries. This is available when ordered by the criminal court during the sentencing phase of the trial for driving under the influence or after the drunk driver has entered his or her final plea agreement with the court. See how an Order of Restitution can benefit you even if the drunk driver can’t afford to pay you for your expenses.
Even if you are able to get some of your expenses covered through the Victim Compensation fund or an Order of Restitution, you may still want to pursue a civil claim against the driver and his or her insurance company. This is a smart idea because there are certain expenses you can collect in a civil court which you are unable to recover in the criminal court or through the Compensation Fund. You are uniquely able to sue for your emotional distress and punitive damages in a civil court. By pursuing all possible avenues against the drunk driver, you are best able to get your own life back on track and make sure the driver appreciates the consequences of his or her actions.
We Can help
For more information about your options after a DUI crash, give us a call at 727-446-0840 and request our free Florida DUI Crash Victim Guide. We take pride in seeking justice for people like you against the people who have wronged them. Every consultation is free and you will never be charged a dime unless we settle or win at trial.