Three people were injured and a man was arrested on felony DUI charges following a crash at the intersection of Keystone Road and East Lake Road in Pinellas County on September 17.
Police say that 43-year-old Justin John Delarosa was driving drunk and ran through a red light at the intersection of those two roads at around 8:40 p.m., crashing into another vehicle. According to troopers, he was driving a 2010 Ford F250 westbound on Keystone Road when he ran through the red light at the intersection with East Lake Road. He crashed into a 2017 Ford Fusion that was turning left from Keystone onto East Lake with a green turn arrow.
31-year-old Jessica Thomas, of New Port Richey, was a passenger in the Fusion that Delarosa's vehicle hit and suffered critical injuries in the collision. She was hospitalized at the Regional Medical Center at Bayonet Point. The driver of that vehicle and one other passenger suffered minor injuries and were brought to the same hospital.
Delarosa was not injured in the crash. He has been charged with one felony count of driving under the influence (serious bodily injury).
Attorney contributor Michael Haggard represents people who have been injured by drunk drivers, helping them find the financial compensation they need and deserve. Here are some thoughts from Michael on the legal rights of those who have been hit by drunk drivers in Florida:
Every state has their own unique laws regarding financial compensation for people who have been injured by drunk drivers. In all states, these injury victims may have grounds for a personal injury lawsuit against the driver who hit them. But in Florida and most other states, there are also certain situations in which people injured by drunk drivers may have the right to file a dram shop lawsuit against an alcohol vendor who served that driver before the crash.
Florida's dram shop laws are more restrictive than some other states. According to Florida's dram shop laws, drunk driving injury victims can file dram shop lawsuits against alcohol vendors if the vendor served alcohol to someone who was either under 21 years of age or "knowingly" provides alcohol to someone who is "habitually addicted to alcohol."
For example, let's say Jim goes to Bobby's Bar for some drinks. The bartender knows that Jim is an alcoholic, but decides to serve him several drinks anyway. Jim then leaves the bar in his car and crashes into another vehicle, injuring Tim. Tim may have grounds for a personal injury lawsuit against Jim and also a dram shop lawsuit against Bobby's Bar.
If you or a loved one has been injured by a drunk driver in Florida, you can learn more about your legal options by speaking with an experienced drunk driving injury victims lawyer.