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Drunk Drivers and Car Accident Liability in Florida

On Behalf of | Dec 13, 2017 | Personal Injury Law |

Are drunk drivers always at fault when involved in a car accident? You may be surprised to learn that the answer is no. A drunk driver who is involved in a car accident is not automatically considered to be at fault simply by virtue of their being intoxicated. In fact, if you get into a car accident with a drunk driver and are seriously injured you will only be able to recover compensation from him/her via a personal injury lawsuit if you are able to show that there is a clear causal connection between the defendant driving under the influence and the resulting accident and your subsequent injuries. Read on to find out more about how liability is determined after a drunk driving accident in Florida.

Determining Liability After a Drunk Driving Accident in Florida 

Here in Florida, civil liability for drunk driving accidents is determined in the same manner that it is for any other type of car accident. In other words, liability is assigned by considering whose negligence caused the accident. In this context the term negligence refers to a failure to exercise the level of care that a person of ordinary prudence would have been expected to act with under the same circumstances. Driving drunk is certainly negligent, but in order for a drunk driver in Florida to be held civilly liable for injuries sustained in a car accident, it must be shown that:

  1. He owed a duty of care to the injured person,
  2. He breached this duty by negligently driving while under the influence,
  3. The breach of duty was the proximate cause of the injury at issue, and
  4. The injured person suffered compensable damages.

But what happens if more than one person’s negligence proximately caused the car accident and the resulting injuries?  For example, what if a drunk driver was driving the wrong way down a one-way street and collided head on with a driver who was negligently speeding? Given the facts of this hypothetical it is possible that a Florida court would hold both drivers partially liable for the accident because our state subscribes to a “pure comparative theory of negligence”.

Under a pure comparative theory of negligence (also sometimes referred to as a pure comparative theory of fault), a personal injury plaintiff who is found to have been partially at fault for causing the accident in which he was injured is still permitted to recover damages from another partially at fault party, minus his or her own degree of fault. In order to illustrate this concept consider the drunk driving hypothetical described above and pretend that the drunk driver was found to have been 60 percent at fault for causing the accident while the speeding driver was found to have been 40 percent at fault. If this is the case then the speeding driver would be entitled to hold the drunk driver responsible for 60 percent of their losses related to the accident.

Contact a Florida Auto, Truck & Motorcycle Accident Lawyer 

Need legal advice about how to best pursue compensation for injuries that you sustain in a Florida auto, truck, or motorcycle accident? If so, the experienced Ocala car accident lawyers at Piccin & Glynn, Attorneys at Law, are here to help. We would be happy to review your case and answer any questions that you may have, including those related to insurance coverage, simply schedule a free initial consultation by calling our Ocala office toll free at 352-558-8480 or by filling out our online contact form.