When people hear about a drunk driving accident, they often automatically think that the driver who was under the influence is responsible. However, this isn’t always the case. An impaired driver who wasn’t at-fault for harm caused in a collision may not be held liable for the damages. Similarly, if an impaired driver is only partially at-fault, that individual may generally only be held partially liable for any harm caused. Of course, the driver’s impairment can be a factor in the incident, but not necessarily the cause.
Unfortunately, if alcohol is found in one of the driver’s system, law enforcement may pin the incident on that person simply because it’s the easiest scapegoat. Anyone who has been arrested for being intoxicated while at the scene of a car accident, is strongly advised to not speak with police about what happened until they have consulted with a Bristol, Tennessee MVA lawyer. Not only can your interactions with law enforcement officers impact any criminal charges that may be brought against you, but these interactions can also impact your civil options and liability as well. The Law Offices of Mark T. Hurt can help you to protect your rights and preserve your options in the wake of a crash, whether you were intoxicated at the time of the collision or not.
Determining Fault in the Car Accident
In regards to most car accident cases, the main issue is who is at-fault (unless you live in a no-fault state). Whoever is deemed at-fault will be held financially responsible for personal injuries and damages that resulted. There are generally three elements of fault that will be considered as your Bristol, TN MVA lawyer builds either an affirmative case or a defensive case on your behalf, depending on your unique legal needs:
- Duty of Care: The first element of showing fault is proving that one party owed “duty of care” to the other. So for a car accident, this means showing how one driver owed a duty to drive safely while in the presence of others on the road.
- Breach: The second element is when the duty of care is breached. It must be shown that one of the drivers not only had a responsibility to operate the vehicle safely, but that they committed a breach of this obligation.
- Causation: The third element is proving that there is a direct link from the driver’s breach of duty and resulting injuries and/or damages.
How Alcohol is a Factor
Just because one of the drivers was drunk doesn’t mean that the other is completely innocent. Similarly, an “x-factor” could have impacted the causation of the crash. For example, if you are driving while a little tipsy and your brakes give out, you can’t be held responsible for the fact that your brakes were defective at the time of the crash. If a lawsuit is filed, the prosecution has to do more than show evidence that the driver was drunk. They must show beyond a reasonable doubt that the drunk driver committed two elements of fault, including having a duty and breaching it.
Being drunk in itself is not the deciding factor in terms of causation. It is about the circumstances of the accident and whether one driver also violated the rules of the road which led to the collision. For instance, in a rear-end collision, it is usually determined that the person behind is at-fault. So, whether the driver in front was drunk may be viewed as irrelevant. However, if the drunk driver had ran through a red light which caused the accident, then this would have more weight in court.
If you’ve been involved in a crash, please connect with an experienced Bristol, TN MVA lawyer as soon as you possibly can. The quicker you act to protect your rights and preserve the legal options, the more tools a Bristol, TN car accident lawyer will be able to use when advocating for your best interests.
We hired Mr. Hurt to help settle a worker’s comp injury case for my husband. Mark, Bart, and Mary worked tirelessly to resolve his case and reach a settlement we were pleased with. They were always available to answer questions and returned calls in a timely manner.