Drivers in Florida and around the country are expected to do everything that they reasonably can to protect other road users, and they fail to meet this duty when they get behind the wheel after drinking or using drugs. Drunk driving accidents kill about 10,000 people each year and injure tens of thousands more, but drunk drivers that crash are not always at fault. Some people believe that intoxicated drivers are always responsible if they are involved in accidents because they can be arrested, but being charged with DUI does not automatically make a driver liable in civil court.
The plaintiffs in motor vehicle accident lawsuits must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant’s negligent actions were the proximate cause of their injury, loss or damage. That means they must convince the court that they would not have been hurt if the defendant had acted responsibly. Drunk drivers act negligently by getting behind the wheel, but they cannot be the proximate cause of an accident victim’s injuries if they did nothing else wrong. However, this is rarely the case in drunk driving crashes.
Pure comparative negligence
Most traffic accidents are caused by a combination of factors, and the blame is often shared by all of the drivers involved. Some states bar accident victims from recovering damages if they bear any responsibility, but Florida follows the pure comparative negligence doctrine. This means that an accident victim in Florida can sue and recover damages even if they were 99% responsible for causing the accident that injured them. However, the damages they are awarded will be reduced by 99% to reflect their share of the blame.
If you are injured in a motor vehicle accident in Florida, your degree of fault will determine the amount of damages you are awarded if you decide to file a personal injury lawsuit. This is why you should be very careful about what you say to the other driver. You will not have to worry about blame if you file an insurance claim because Florida is a no-fault state, but assigning blame will be very important if you choose to sue.