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A “Few Too Many” Could Mean Harsh Consequences for Florida Accident Victims

When happy hour extends well into the evening, you know that it is a huge mistake to get behind the wheel while intoxicated. What you may not realize is how being drunk can impact your rights in an accident, even when you were not driving. Under basic personal injury laws, individuals and entities can be held liable for harm caused by negligent conduct. However, the state comparative fault statute also takes into account the victim’s misconduct. If you were hurt by someone else’s negligence, your compensation might be reduced by the amount of fault attributable to you. 

Therefore, you might expect to lose out on a portion of your monetary damages if you were hurt because of your own negligent acts. Unfortunately, another statute may apply to completely bar compensation for victims who were drunk when injured. A Miami personal injury attorney may be able to help overcome the impact of this law, but you should understand how it works.

Florida’s Alcohol or Drug Defense Statute

As an overview, the law allows an at-fault party to claim intoxication as a defense when a victim who was impaired seeks compensation after an accident. The Florida alcohol and drug defense statute provides that a plaintiff may not recover ANY damages if he or she:

  • Was under the influence of alcohol or drugs to the point that their normal faculties were impaired OR had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or higher – the legal limit when it comes to Florida’s DUI laws; AND
  • As a result of consuming alcohol or drugs, the victim was more than 50% at fault for the accident that caused injuries.

Note that the law does NOT apply to a medication that the victim takes pursuant to a valid prescription, as well as over-the-counter drugs that do not require a prescription.

Claims Where the Intoxication Defense Might Apply

The statute would not be relevant to most traffic accident cases where the victim was drunk driving, since compensation would be barred by other laws. However, business and property owners would certainly claim it as a defense if you were hurt in a slip and fall or other accident while intoxicated.

Still, the statute is specific on what the at-fault party needs to prove to escape liability. It is first necessary to show that you were either impaired or had a BAC in excess of .08%. The defendant would then need evidence proving that you were more than 50% liable for the accident. For instance, you might be barred from recovering damages if you were sliding down a banister, climbing balconies, or wandering in prohibited areas – but not if you slipped in a puddle.

Count on a Miami Personal Injury Lawyer for Legal Help 

For more information on comparative fault concepts in Florida, please contact Gerson & Schwartz, PA. You can schedule a free consultation at our offices in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, or West Palm Beach, FL by calling (305) 371-6000 or visiting our website. We can explain the law and how it applies to your claim after reviewing your situation. 

Florida Justice Association
The National Center for Victims of Crime
outh Florida Legal Guide
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