ClickCease Does Walking Drunk Affect Comparative Liability?

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Pedestrian Accidents, Public Drinking, and Comparative Liability

What Happens if a Drunk Pedestrian Gets Hit by a Car?

Alcohol consumption can impair your decision making ability as well as your reflexes. Consuming alcohol leaves you especially vulnerable as a pedestrian. This does not mean that you should not have alcohol before going for a walk. What it means is that you should follow the same protocols regarding drinking that you would use if you were going to drive.

If you or a loved one was in a pedestrian accident in Los Angeles, our experienced personal injury attorneys at West Coast Trial Lawyers will help you get the compensation you deserve so that you can focus on your recovery and on the ones you care most about.

Alcohol Consumption and Liability

Does Walking Drunk Affect Comparative Liability

Let’s consider a few scenarios. Say that a driver was driving faster than the posted speed limit or ran a red light and hit a pedestrian. That driver would most likely be held liable for the accident because he or she was in violation of traffic laws. In this example, the negligent driver’s behavior was the significant factor that caused the collision and the pedestrian’s level of intoxication did not play a relevant role. On the other hand, a pedestrian can also contribute to a crash.

On the other hand, a pedestrian can also contribute to causing an accident. For example, say that a pedestrian was so intoxicated that he or she fell into a street and was then hit by a car. In this example, the pedestrian’s level of intoxication would place a significant degree of liability on him or her. Further, a pedestrian who was severely intoxicated and whose negligence was a significant factor in causing an accident may not have a claim against the driver who hit them. And even if that pedestrian is able to file a claim, the available damages will be significantly reduced based on his or her degree of fault.

All drivers and pedestrians are required to be aware of their surroundings. Every driver has a duty of care to avoid hitting a pedestrian, and every pedestrian must do everything in his or her power to safely cross a street. In other words, both a driver and a pedestrian have a duty to one another to minimize instances that may cause harm. Walking while intoxicated, if it is determined to have played a role in causing the accident, would certainly count as negligent behavior on the pedestrian’s part.

Negligence and Comparative Liability

As it relates to pedestrian accidents, negligence is some form of careless or reckless behavior on behalf of a driver, or in some cases, even a pedestrian. This means that if a driver causes harm to a pedestrian, he or she will typically be held liable for any injuries sustained, as well as the resulting damages. However, as mentioned, a pedestrian’s negligence, such as being intoxicated, can also factor into determining liability.

Some examples of driver negligence in relation to a pedestrian accident include:

  • Speeding
  • Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Not paying attention to the road
  • Texting
  • Disobeying traffic laws or signals

Negligent behavior behind the wheel is not only immoral but is against the law. All motorists have a legal duty of care while operating a vehicle. This means that a driver who behaves irresponsibly and does not use reasonable care while operating a vehicle may be found liable for causing a pedestrian accident.

If you were injured in a pedestrian accident because of a driver’s negligent behavior, it is crucial that you are able to prove that his or her negligence was the primary cause of your injuries. The legal standard for negligence in the state of California will consider the following three elements:

  1. The driver owed the pedestrian a duty of care
  2. The driver breached his or her duty of care through negligence, and
  3. The driver’s negligence was the primary cause of the injuries sustained.

In summary, it is entirely possible for more than one individual to be held liable for causing a pedestrian accident. California is a comparative liability state, which means that more than one individual may be found liable, including the pedestrian. Therefore, liability can be divided based on the degree of fault. Damages will also be divided based on the share of fault. Finally, any available damages will be reduced depending on an individual’s degree of fault.

Available Damages

Accidents happen. If you were injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses. Below is a brief explanation of damages. Damages are a type of monetary award that is determined by a court of law to help compensate an aggrieved individual for any losses or injuries sustained as a result of someone’s negligence.

Economic Damages

Economic damages are intended to compensate a plaintiff for losses that a dollar amount can readily be attached to. Economic damages are calculated by determining the amount of out-of-pocket losses an aggrieved individual has or will expect to incur as a result of their injuries.

A few examples of economic losses include:

  • Loss of Earning Capacity
  • Medical Bills
  • Lost Wages

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages are essentially intended to cover losses that are thought of as subjective and will not necessarily cover out-of-pocket losses. Non-economic damages may include compensation for:

  • Emotional Distress
  • Pain and Suffering
  • Loss of Enjoyment of Life

Punitive Damages

The third type of damages a California court may award are known as punitive damages. Punitive damages are intended as punishment and are only awarded when a defendant’s behavior is especially harmful. Punitive damages are relatively rare and in fact were only incorporated in 5 percent of all verdicts.

Furthermore, there is no real set standard for calculating and awarding punitive damages. Punitive damages are awarded at the court’s discretion and will vary depending on the specific circumstances of a case.

Contact Us to Find Out How We Can Help

If you have sustained injuries in the city of Los Angeles as a result of a pedestrian accident, an attorney at our firm can help you recover financial compensation for the losses you have suffered, including medical bills, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Call us today at (213) 927-3700 or email [email protected] to schedule a free consultation with our experienced, caring, and compassionate legal team.


If you have been injured in an accident, you can count on the legal team at West Coast Trial Lawyers to fight for your rights every step of the way. Contact us today to schedule your free case evaluation with a personal injury attorney.
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