Injured While Driving Under the Influence? Don’t Expect to Recover Damages in Florida
In Florida, an injured plaintiff may be precluded from recovering any damages if the defendant can establish that the plaintiff was impaired by alcohol or drugs and, as a result of said impairment, was more than half at fault for their own harm.
That is the law according to Florida Statutes 768.36. Some circuit court judges have ruled this law to be unconstitutional, but that is not the law of the land in Florida until the Florida Supreme Court decides the same way.
This statute has caused havoc in the court system. Jury instructions in cases where this defense is used have to be rewritten to reflect the law under that statute rather than abiding by the usual directives in the case of comparative negligence. Unfair results can occur as a result of this particular loophole.
Assume a person is badly injured but also happens to be under the influence at the time of the injury. If he/she is found 50.01% responsible for the crash, the injured party is not entitled to any compensation for injuries because the person was impaired. If there were no impairment, the plaintiff could recover 49.09% of all damages, even when found partially responsible for this accident.
The inequities are obvious, but unless the Florida Supreme Court strikes down the statute, the law is the law, as unfair as it may seem to some.