Alcohol or drug use can completely bar an injured party from making a negligence claim. This typically arises in automobile accident cases. Florida law precludes you from making a claim for injuries if the jury finds that you were driving under the influence and as a result of your intoxication, you were more than 50% at fault for the accident. The statute states as follows:
768.36 Alcohol or drug defense.—
(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.
To be clear, this statute only applies if you are intoxicated AND found more than 50% at fault. It does not apply to all situations, such as where a drunk driver is hit by another vehicle that runs a red light. In that case, a jury might find that the drunk driver was not negligent at all, or at least that his negligence was less than 50%. In that case, the intoxicated driver’s claim would not be barred. If you are involved in an accident involving intoxicated drivers, it is important that you contact an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss your legal rights.