This is an interesting question we sometimes receive from injured parties. To clarify: if an individual is drunk or has been drinking alcohol and then is injured due to another person’s negligence, is the negligent party still at fault? From our experience, we know that the legal definition of negligence may be confusing to some people. To clarify matters, negligence is any form of conduct that does not live up to the accepted standards of behavior established by law to protect others against unreasonable risk or harm.
A person can be described as negligent if he or she has deviated from reasonable conduct that is expected of a prudent person who might be acting under a similar set of circumstances. The issue of negligence has wide ranging legal implications that encompass virtually all unintentional, wrongful conduct that causes injury to others.
Under the law, in order to establish negligence as a Cause of Action, a plaintiff must be able to prove that the defendant had a duty to the plaintiff, and show cause that the defendant breached that duty by his/her failure to conform to an accepted standard of conduct. As a result, the defendant’s negligent conduct was the direct cause of harm to the plaintiff, and, as a result, the plaintiff was damaged or harmed.
Let’s take the situation you posed regarding intoxication. As an example, let’s say you had been bar hopping, and drinking with friends all evening to celebrate your birthday, and finally decided to head home. You were clearly happy and intoxicated as you walked home. When you came to the corner of a busy thoroughfare, the DO NOT WALK sign turned red so you stopped at the curb with one foot in the street. A driver, who was on the phone, attempted to make an illegal turn and accidentally injures you. He did not intend to cause harm or injury, but he was distracted and speeding.
A reasonable and responsible person would not drive in this manner because it creates an unreasonable level of risk that can result in harm or injury to pedestrians as well as other drivers, Your state of intoxication does not absolve the driver from being held liable for his actions and for the harm he caused you even though he had no intent to injure or harm you in any manner.
If you have been injured due to another person’s negligence, regardless of your state of intoxication, you should contact an attorney to discuss your rights. The attorneys at Meinhart, Smith & Manning, PLLC offer free consultations, and help to those who need it.