Do You Still Have a Claim If You are Drunk or Intoxicated When You Slip and Fall?

Posted By on February 27, 2014

Last Update: 7/13/17

Florida is a fun place to be. Those of us that live here – especially in South Florida with all its beautiful beaches — know it. All those tourists from out of state and other countries know it too. There are a lot of parties, celebrations, and recreational activity in our area — here in Hallandale Beach, Florida, we have a lot of fun stuff happening all of the time.

Imagine you’re at the horse races over at the Gulfstream Park, for example, and your horse wins big.

Maybe you’re over at the Mardi Gras Casino poker tables and Lady Luck has smiled upon you.

Or you’re celebrating an anniversary, a birthday, or just being here in Florida on vacation or Spring Break. We have a lot of beautiful beachfront restaurants and bars here that are hosting all sorts of celebrations everyday, where you can enjoy your alcohol beverage of choice while looking out on the Atlantic Ocean:

 

 

If You are Intoxicated When You Slip and Fall, Then Do You Still Have a Premises Liability Claim Under Florida Law?

If you are drunk when you slip and fall and suffer an injury to your shoulder, ankle, knee, leg, back, neck, arm — is it all your fault because you are intoxicated or does the property owner still have some legal liability here? It’s a great question, and one with no easy answer.

Why? The answer lies in “causation.”

In every premises liability case, one of the key legal issues is “causation” or the cause or reason for the accident itself. That is determined through facts that are introduced as evidence as well as expert opinion in some cases.

Florida Alcohol or Drug Defense Statute: Florida Statute 768.36

Florida Statute 768.36 is sometimes called the Florida Alcohol Defense Law, and it provides as follows:

Alcohol or drug defense.—

(1) As used in this section, the term:
(a) “Alcoholic beverage” means distilled spirits and any beverage that contains 0.5 percent or more alcohol by volume as determined in accordance with s. 561.01(4)(b).
(b) “Drug” means any chemical substance set forth in s. 877.111 or any substance controlled under chapter 893. The term does not include any drug or medication obtained pursuant to a prescription as defined in s. 893.02 which was taken in accordance with the prescription, or any medication that is authorized under state or federal law for general distribution and use without a prescription in treating human diseases, ailments, or injuries and that was taken in the recommended dosage.
(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.

What Should You Do?

Of course, all defense lawyers are going to argue that the plaintiff, being under the influence of alcohol or drugs, is going to be the major reason that they fell and got hurt. The premises or business owner, whether it’s a casino owner or a restaurant owner or the operator of a Florida dance club is going to say that the victim got hurt because they were, in the language of the statute “more than 50 percent at fault for his or her own harm.

That’s the key: the percentage of causation. If investigation, evidence (video surveillance, witness testimony, etc.), and expert opinion can establish that the premises owner is more than 50% responsible for the cause of the accident, then the Intoxication Defense is not going to bar the victim’s injury claim.

It’s a tough case to win in many instances. However, being drunk or high doesn’t automatically bar the injury victim’s right to compensation from the premises or business owner. An experienced Florida personal injury lawyer can sometimes be helpful in avoiding that 50 percent threshold so the victim can recover damages, including their pain and suffering and lost wages.

A good piece of advice if you have been harmed in a slip and fall or other personal injury and alcohol was involved, is to speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer before you file a claim to learn about some of the issues that can arise with these claims, including the type of evidence needed to prove a claim and the type and amount of damages you can recover. Most personal injury lawyers, like Alan Sackrin, will offer a free initial consultation (over the phone or in person) to answer your questions.

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Do you have questions or comments? Then please feel free to send Alan an email or call him now at (954) 458-8655.
 
 
 
 

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