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Are Intoxicated Drivers Always Assigned Fault for Crashes?

Determining fault in a motor vehicle accident involves examining the actions and decisions of all parties involved. It’s a common assumption that if one of the drivers is intoxicated, they will automatically be assigned fault for the crash.

Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs impairs an individual’s ability to operate a vehicle safely and is illegal. However, intoxication does not automatically make a driver at fault for an accident. Fault is determined by the specific circumstances and actions that led to the collision, not just the state of the drivers involved.

If you were injured in an accident that was not your fault in Wisconsin, you may need a Green Bay car accident attorney to help you.

Negligence Per Se in Wisconsin

In Wisconsin, the legal doctrine of negligence per se is often used in accidents caused by intoxicated drivers. This doctrine establishes that an individual’s action is negligent because it violates a law or regulation designed to protect the public.

Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs violates Wisconsin’s drunk driving law, which is intended to maintain road safety. If an intoxicated driver causes an accident, they may be considered negligence per se. This means the accident victim does not need to provide additional proof of negligence. The fact that the driver broke the law by driving while intoxicated is enough to establish negligence.

While negligence per se can simplify the process of establishing fault, it doesn’t automatically determine the outcome of a civil lawsuit. Other factors may come into play, such as the actions of the other driver involved in the accident. The specifics of the law can be complex and depend on the individual circumstances of each case, so seek legal advice with a Fox Cities car accident attorney if you’re involved in such a situation.

Are Drunk Drivers Always at Fault?

Drunk drivers are presumed to be at fault in car crashes due to the inherent risks associated with operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol. However, assigning fault in such cases is not always straightforward, and there are instances where drunk drivers may not be held fully liable for damages.

  • Road Conditions

Unrepaired potholes and pavement can cause a vehicle to jolt suddenly and the driver of the vehicle to lose control, leading to a collision. If a drunk driver sustained injuries due to the lack of repairs on a highway that a town, city, or municipality is responsible for maintaining, the municipality could be liable for damages.

  • The Other Driver’s Actions

All parties involved in the crash are carefully evaluated based on the circumstances of the crash. For instance, if you ran a red light and hit a drunk driver, the driver wouldn’t entirely share liability for the accident.

Wisconsin law requires vehicles to stop at the red light, and if they plan to make a right turn, they must yield to all bicycles, pedestrians, and other cars. You may share responsibility for causing the crash if you violate this law.

  • Dram Shop Liability

Licensed vendors and social hosts are generally not held responsible for drunk driving accidents. However, they may be liable if they provide alcohol to someone under the age of 21, knew or should have known they were underage, and if they forced or deceived others into drinking alcohol, such as claiming the alcohol was free.

How Does Wisconsin’s Comparative Negligence Affect Drunk Driving Accidents?

Wisconsin follows a modified comparative negligence system, specifically a 51% rule. According to this rule, a plaintiff can only recover compensation if their degree of fault is determined to be 50% or less.

If the plaintiff’s degree of responsibility is determined to be 51% or more, they are barred from recovering any damages. This means that even if an intoxicated driver is partially responsible for a crash, they may still be able to avoid liability.

However, being charged with Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) in Wisconsin after a crash can still have legal consequences for the intoxicated driver. An OWI conviction can lead to penalties such as license suspension, fines, mandatory alcohol education programs, and even imprisonment, depending on the severity of the offense and any prior convictions. These consequences are separate from the issue of civil liability for damages in a car crash.

How a Car Accident Attorney Can Help

When it comes to navigating the complexities of car accidents and determining fault, the expertise and guidance of a car accident attorney can be invaluable. Brian Hodgkiss Injury Lawyers have in-depth knowledge of the laws and regulations surrounding car accidents, including those related to intoxicated driving.

Contact Brian Hodgkiss Injury Lawyers today to schedule a consultation and take the first step toward obtaining the legal support and representation you need during this challenging time.

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