Are You Automatically At Fault For An Accident If You Have Alcohol In Your System?
It's generally assumed the presence of alcohol in someone's system will automatically make them liable for an auto accident. It's true you will likely receive a DUI if there's alcohol in your system. However, if you're in an accident, you shouldn't assume you will face full blame for it because of the alcohol.
The Amount of Alcohol in Your System Matters
Having alcohol in your system doesn't always mean you're drunk. Every state has a maximum blood alcohol concentration level you're allowed to drive under. That's not to advocate driving with any number of drinks in your system, but you should know there are legal limits.
So a glass of wine won't be the one factor making you fully liable for a car accident. However, if you're over the legal limit, then your liability does increase because it's generally assumed an intoxicated person has impaired judgement. It's proven that intoxication can greatly increase the likelihood of an accident.
Luckily for you, just because something can lead to an accident doesn't mean that's what occurred in your specific case; something or someone else could have caused the accident even if you were intoxicated at some level. If an insurance company plans to seek damages, they must still satisfy all the elements of a personal injury case.
The Four Elements of a Personal Injury Case
Four parts make up a personal injury case. Your opposition must prove all four parts if they seek damages. With driving under the influence, those four points may look like this:
Duty of care – You have a duty to show reasonable care and consideration when on the road. You obey traffic laws, you don't hit pedestrians, you practice diligence when on the road. The moment you start driving, you accept that duty.
Breach of duty of care - By drinking any amount of alcohol before driving, you violate your duty of care. You knowingly failed to exercise reasonable care by drinking and then driving.
Causation – Your opposition must prove your breach of duty caused the accident. Here's where you receive some room to breathe. Even if you were highly intoxicated, it still doesn't mean you caused the accident.
Even if you contributed to the accident, there's a possibility the other driver has some of the blame as well. Other factors, such as poor lighting, bad roads, or confusing signage could have also contributed to the accident.
Actual damage – Despite everything else, the opposition must show you caused them actual damage. If there are no injuries, no loss of income, no medical costs, or anything else, then there's no case.
If they can prove three of the elements but not a fourth, they won't have a case. Even proving your fault was only partial can greatly lower your liability or even have the case tossed.
Don't Drink and Drive
Knowing some of the ins and outs of these types of cases can help a great deal. However, you should never drink and drive to begin with. Personal injury cases are tricky enough. Alcohol or other intoxicants can make them far harder than they should be.
Just know that if you ever find yourself in an accident and you have alcohol in your system, you're not automatically to blame. Speak to a traffic law attorney from a company like Thomas & Associates, PC about your situation immediately and ask them about your chances. They can help guide you through the process and conduct the investigation to help prove your lack of fault.