How Alcohol Impacts A Personal Injury Case

The role that alcohol plays in personal injury cases is significant – so significant, in fact, that it can lead to a shift in terms of both liability and compensation. 

As a result, if you’re involved in an accident where alcohol was a factor, it pays to have an understanding of its impact on your case. 

Whether you were under the influence or the other party was, this introduces complexities that are important to grasp – so stick around as we unpack the basics, and arm you with info that should serve you well as things progress.

Alcohol’s Influence on Liability Determination

When injuries occur, liability must be established for a satisfactory legal outcome to be reached. 

Here’s what alcohol can do to this process:

  • Legal Presumptions: Many states have strict laws regarding alcohol and driving, and so it’s often presumed that negligence is involved if a driver was over the legal limit. This presumption can shift the burden of proof dramatically, forcing the intoxicated driver to prove they were not at fault.
  • Comparative Fault: In scenarios where both parties might have consumed alcohol, comparative fault rules come into play. These rules divide the blame and reduce compensation based on each party’s degree of fault.

Figures from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) noted that drunk driving collisions killed over 13,500 people in 2022, or around 37 people daily – with many more being injured in such crashes. 

This not only highlights the dangers of driving under influence but also underscores its prevalence in personal injury claims. And with first-time offenders likely to face at least $10,000 in fines, alongside legal fees, there’s even more at stake here.

An Illustrative Case

To get to grips with the complexities of liability, imagine a situation where Driver A, slightly above the legal alcohol limit, collides with Driver B, who blatantly ran a red light. Although Driver A was technically breaking the law by driving drunk, Driver B’s more egregious violation could lead to a “comparative negligence” scenario where both parties are found partially at fault. 

This is the type of case in which having the right personal injury lawyer services at your disposal will ensure you’re appropriately defended, and that you receive the compensation you’re owed. Speaking of which…

The Financial Ramifications

As mentioned, alcohol is not just a pivotal factor for liability in personal injury cases, but can also alter the payout that’s on the table. You can still enjoy a tipple from one of the top breweries around, so long as you drink responsibly and know the law as well.

Here’s what you need to understand about the financial aspect:

  • Reduction in Settlement Offers: Insurers may use alcohol involvement as leverage to reduce settlement amounts. Claimants perceived as negligent due to intoxication often face substantial cuts in their offered settlements.
  • Medical Costs and Recovery: Victims involved who were under the influence might face difficulties claiming full compensation for medical expenses, especially if it’s argued that their intoxication contributed to the severity of the injuries.

Typically, the amount of compensation that’s available can change depending on the amount of liability you accept – so if this is split down the middle, a 50% payout of the costs incurred could be on the cards.

An Illustrative Case

Let’s picture an example of a Jane Doe personal injury victim, whose car was rear-ended by an intoxicated driver. 

Despite sustaining serious injuries requiring lengthy rehabilitation, her compensation was halved because she had consumed one glass of wine at dinner before driving, which put her slightly over the legal limit in her state – thus resulting in a decision of her being as liable for the collision as the other party.

Once again, this highlights why individuals must seek legal advice early on – since alcohol complicates claims significantly, impacting both liability and financial recovery. We all know businesses can make mistakes, but individuals have more to lose if they aren’t adequately supported during challenging periods.

The Bottom Line

Each personal injury case will have its intricacies and quirks to contend with, but alcohol’s impact will always be noteworthy. As such it’s worth reiterating that expert legal representation will serve you well, no matter which side of the liability seesaw you’re sitting on.

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