When a person driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol gets into an accident, he or she is usually the one at fault. Sometimes, though, the accident is caused by someone else, and the victim just happened to be intoxicated at the time the incident occurred. Although you may be the one who was injured because of another person's negligence, your intoxicated state may negatively impact your ability to collect compensation for your injuries. Here's more information about this problem.
DUI May Be Seen as a Contributory Factor
It's well-known that drugs and alcohol negatively impact a person's ability to react to stimuli, operate their limbs, and make decisions. Because of this, the court may feel you are partially responsible for the accident, depending on the circumstances of the incident. The rationale behind this idea is that—had you been sober—you may have been able to prevent the accident or, at least, mitigate your damages.
For example, a vehicle swerves into your lane. However, because you're inebriated, you don't react quick enough to get out of the way and an accident occurs. Even though the other person was at fault, the judge may feel your intoxicated state also contributed to the crash because the drugs or alcohol impaired your ability to react normally.
Your Damages May Be Reduced or Invalidated Completely
If you're found to be partly liable for the accident due to your intoxication, the amount of money you receive may be reduced or you may be completely barred from collecting compensation for your damages and losses. Which one occurs in your case will depend on whether you live in a state that uses the contributory negligence model to calculate damages or the comparative negligence model.
In states that use the comparative negligence model, your damages will be reduced by the percentage of liability the court assigns to you for the accident. If the judge finds you were 10 percent liable, then you would only receive 90 percent of what you're asking for, for example. The majority of states use this type of model to determine how much compensation an accident victim should receive.
States that use the contributory negligence will bar you from collecting any damages at all if your percentage of liability reaches a certain level. In Maryland, you won't receive any compensation if you're found to be even 1 percent liable for the accident. The limit may be set much higher in other states (e.g. 51 percent).
For assistance with handling a personal injury case involving a DUI and maximize your chances of getting what you're due, contact a local attorney.