Quite often the focus of discussions surrounding drinking and injuries is on the injuries caused by the drunk person. Alcohol abuse can lead to serious consequences, especially for drivers. But a drunk person can be injured in contexts other than where he or she was driving. The injured person may be hesitant to pursue a personal injury claim because of the stigmas associated with excessive drinking. But the fact that someone was drunk does not excuse the bad behavior of others.
A plaintiff’s drunkenness as a defense
Personal injury lawsuits typically seek to prove that the defendant behaved negligently and, as a consequence, caused the plaintiff’s injury. Whether the defendant behaved negligently requires a close look at the circumstances of the injury itself. What obligations did the defendant owe to the plaintiff at the time? How did the defendant fail to meet those standards? Questions like these primarily focus on the defendant, not the plaintiff.
If the plaintiff was drunk at the time the defendant caused the injury it is possible that the defendant will want to use the plaintiff’s drunkenness as a defense. Nevada is a modified comparative negligence state, which means that a defendant can ask a court to reduce the amount the defendant is responsible for by a percentage that the court attributes to the fault of the plaintiff in causing the accident. If the court finds that the plaintiff was more than fifty percent at fault, the plaintiff won’t be allowed to recover anything from the defendant.
A key question in any comparative negligence case is the extent to which the plaintiff’s behavior really factored into the injury. Sometimes a plaintiff’s drunkenness isn’t relevant. Here are some examples where that might prove to be the case:
- The defendant was lawfully crossing the street when the defendant ran a red light and struck the plaintiff.
- The defendant, a grocery store, left a puddle of cooking oil on the floor of an aisle and the plaintiff slipped on it.
- The defendant’s dog wasn’t leashed and attacked the plaintiff.
The more the plaintiff’s alcohol use factors into the injury, the more difficult it will be to avoid at least a portion of the liability being placed on the plaintiff. Here are some cases where the plaintiff’s drunkenness might matter:
- The defendant, a shopping mall, failed to block off a section of floor that was under repair and visibly unsafe, and the plaintiff stumbled into it.
- The plaintiff unexpectedly stumbled into the street and was struck by the defendant driver.
- The plaintiff fell after climbing onto a ladder that the defendant had left standing against a wall.
The attorneys at Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez have represented injured clients in the Las Vegas area for over 45 years. We are happy to help people who have been injured resolve questions about whether a personal injury lawsuit is appropriate for their case. Call today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476 or request a call through our website.