Jump To Navigation
Drunk Driving Accidents

Defenses to Drunk Driving Injury Claims

The defenses to civil drunk driving claims can vary by state and the circumstances of each case. The information provided here will give you a brief overview of some of the defenses that may be claimed. An experienced personal injury attorney can evaluate your claim and help you plan accordingly. Call today to schedule a consultation to learn more about the types of defenses that may be used against you.

Contributory negligence

In jurisdictions that recognize contributory negligence, the plaintiff can be barred recovery if his or her own actions contributed in any way to the injuries. Even if the drunk driver is found responsible for 99 percent of the accident, the plaintiff still will not recover any compensation. Only a minority of jurisdictions follow this rule.

Comparative negligence

Most jurisdictions have adopted comparative negligence rules over the stricter contributory negligence standard. In these jurisdictions, the damages award is reduced to reflect the plaintiff's proportion of fault for the accident. Thus, if the plaintiff is found to be 20 percent at fault for the accident, he or she will only collect 80 percent of the damages. Some states have a hybrid comparative negligence rule in which the plaintiff is barred recovery if his or her own negligence is greater than 50 percent.

Assumption of the risk

Assumption of risk as a defense normally is asserted by defendants when passengers of drunk drivers bring suit. For a defendant to successfully claim the passenger assumed the risk of injury, the defendant must prove that the plaintiff passenger was aware of the risk, understood the nature of the risk and voluntarily chose to assume the risk by riding with the drunk driver. Thus, the passenger had to know the driver was intoxicated at the time he or she got into the car.

Sudden emergency

For a plaintiff to win damages from a drunk driver in a negligence action, the plaintiff must prove that the drunk driver's conduct fell below the standard of care applicable to drivers generally. Depending on the jurisdiction, proof of intoxication alone may not be enough to prove conduct below the standard of care. Consequently, a drunk driver may attempt to show he or she did not breach the standard of care by claiming a sudden emergency caused him or her to act in a way that led to the accident. For this defense to be successful, the defendant must show the existence of a true emergency. Also, the defendant must show that he or she acted in the same way that a reasonable person would under similar circumstances. Finally, the defendant's own intoxication may not be what caused the emergency.

Contact a drunk driving accident attorney

The person responsible for your injuries may claim other defenses than those listed here. It is important to have an experienced drunk driving accident lawyer review the circumstances of your claim and plan the strategy for your case. Call today to schedule a consultation with a personal injury attorney to discuss your case.

Copyright © 2012 FindLaw, a Thomson Reuters business

DISCLAIMER: This site and any information contained herein are intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek competent legal counsel for advice on any legal matter.

Return to Main

New Immediate Representation | Tired of Insurance Hassles | We'll represent you right now | Click Here | Call Now Toll Free 1-800-300-8561

- Free Advice!
- Free Consultations!
- No Out of Pocket Fees!
- Contingency Fees!
- We Get Paid Only if We Win Your Case!

Contact Us

NOTE: Labels in bold are required.

Contact Information
  1. CAPTCHA

  2. disclaimer


What Our Clients Say

Client Testimonial:

"I am impressed the way your firm took care of me, and I am pleased with results. "


KW, Satisfied Client, San Jose, California

"Great Settlement, Thank You."
R.H. - Milpitas, CA

"Mr. Bloxham treated me honestly and fairly - Thanks!"
A.T. - Pittsburg, CA

"I was disappointed in a previous attorney. Thanks for handling my sister's case - I appreciate the care that you took with her."
P.O. - Concord, CA

"Good Job, Thank You."
T.E. - Brentwood, CA

"Thanks for fighting for me, Mr. Bloxham. I appreciate your efforts."
B.K. - Concord, CA

"With my serious injuries, I appreciate that you were able to come to my home and get my case started right away - Thanks."
T.K - Walnut Creek, CA

BBB | Better Business Bureau | www.bbb.org

Click here to see our A+ Rating

Injury Law Center Law Offices of Jack Bloxham
  • Injury Law Center - Walnut Creek
    Law Offices of Jack Bloxham
    2099 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Suite 201
    Walnut Creek, CA 94596

    925-280-4800
    Walnut Creek Law Office

  • Injury Law Center - San Jose
    Law Offices of Jack Bloxham
    2570 N. First Street
    Second Floor
    San Jose, CA 95131

    408-224-3286
    San Jose, CA Law Office

  • Injury Law Center - Fremont-Hayward
    Law Offices of Jack Bloxham
    34716 Alvarado-Niles Road
    Union City, CA 94587

    510-832-1177
    Union City Law Office

  • Injury Law Center - Oakland
    Law Offices of Jack Bloxham
    166 Santa Clara Ave
    Oakland, CA 94610

    510-832-1177
    Oakland Law Office

Disclosure: Photos may not depict cars, places or situations related to clients or cases. Other photos may not depict attorneys or clients of the firm. The photos are intended only as dramatizations. Testimonials or endorsements, or statements regarding the outcome of a case should not be construed as a guarantee or warrantee or prediction regarding the result or outcome of your or anyone’s legal matter. Each case has its own unique facts, and the outcome of each case will differ.

San Jose personal injury attorney Jack Bloxham represents clients in negligence and wrongful death litigation related to motor vehicle accidents of all kinds in the Greater Bay Area of Northern California, including Alameda County, Contra Costa County, Santa Clara County, Solano County, San Jose, Walnut Creek, Union City, Oakland, San Francisco, Fremont, Hayward, Pittsburg, Richmond, Dublin, Concord, Fairfield, Benicia, Vallejo, Los Gatos, Napa, Pleasanton, Livermore, Antioch, Santa Cruz, and San Mateo.