I Was Involved In An Auto Accident That Wasn’t My Fault. But I Was Arrested For DUI. Do I Still Have A Case?

You very well might.

We had an interesting conversation the other day with a man who was involved in a trucking accident a number of years ago. He was driving near St. Augustine, Florida, and rounded a bend. A truck was improperly parked on the side of the road without flashers or hazard warnings. As a result of the driver’s negligence, he hit the vehicle at a high rate of speed and was significantly injured. However, it was later discovered by law enforcement he was over the legal limit and was cited for DUI. Because he was charged for a DUI, it was his impression he was barred from pursuing a lawsuit against the trucking company.

Florida Statute Section 768.36 provides that an individual under the influence of drugs or alcohol who is more than 50 percent at fault may not recover. Specifically, the language states that:

(2) In any civil action, a plaintiff may not recover any damages for loss or injury to his or her person or property if the trier of fact finds that, at the time the plaintiff was injured:

(a) The plaintiff was under the influence of any alcoholic beverage or drug to the extent that the plaintiff’s normal faculties were impaired or the plaintiff had a blood or breath alcohol level of 0.08 percent or higher; and

(b) As a result of the influence of such alcoholic beverage or drug the plaintiff was more than 50 percent at fault for his or her own harm.

Using the situation above, should it be found that the truck driver was even 50.01 percent at fault for the accident, then the man should have recovered for his damages in a lawsuit. Florida is a “pure” comparative negligence state. Meaning that so long as the intoxicated person’s fault is below the 50 percent threshold, they can recover from the party bearing liability, less the portion of his or her own fault. For example, if a person is legally drunk, and it was found that being intoxicated contributed to the accident by 30 percent, the individual would still be able to recover 70 of his damages.

Also, the fault must be as “a result” of the drugs or alcohol. Recently, a Florida appellate court issued an opinion requiring the court to decide whether an individual could still recover for injuries when they were under the influence of alcohol and 55 percent at fault for the accident. The jury found the individual was indeed intoxicated and was involved in an accident where he was more than 50 percent at fault. However, it had to be shown that his being more than 50 percent at fault was the result of being intoxicated. Meaning, there could be a situation where an individual is intoxicated, more than 50 percent responsible for the accident, but there is no link between the intoxication and the fault.

If you are involved in a traffic crash, contact our office today at (904) 638-4235 for a free consultation with one of our accident attorneys.

Also, if you have been charged with a DUI, our firm provides DUI criminal defense as well. Attorney John Rockwell has successfully defended numerous DUIs here in Northeast Florida and can advise you of your rights.

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