Alcohol Suspected In Fatal I-95 Crash
A 26-year-old Lauderhill man is dead after a possibly intoxicated motorist smashed into his car while it was on the interstate’s shoulder.
For reasons that are not entirely clear, the man’s Kia was parked on the southbound side’s outside shoulder near Okeechobee Boulevard. An Infiniti Q50 then veered into the Kia, colliding with its rear end. The force of the impact sent both vehicles into a tailspin. The Kia driver was seriously injured and rushed to a nearby hospital, where he was later declared dead. His passenger was seriously injured as well, but that man is expected to survive.
The Infiniti driver was injured as well.
How Negligence Works in a Port St. Lucie Alcohol-Related Crash
In criminal court, Florida prosecutors must prove that defendants were intoxicated beyond any reasonable doubt. That is a very high evidentiary threshold, as “intoxication” usually means the complete loss of normal mental or physical faculties. That is also a very high evidentiary standard. “Beyond a reasonable doubt” is the highest standard in Florida law.
But in civil court, victim/plaintiffs must only establish that the driver was impaired by a preponderance of the evidence. Scientifically, impairment begins with the first drink. So, if there is evidence that the tortfeasor (negligent driver) consumed alcohol, the jury can presume impairment. Such evidence includes:
- Erratic driving,
- Bloodshot eyes,
- Odor of alcohol, and
- Unsteady balance.
The jury can make this leap because the victim/plaintiff need only establish impairment by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not). If the tortfeasor had been drinking, more likely than not, the tortfeasor was also impaired.
The Negligence Per Se Rule and Alcohol Crashes in Port St. Lucie
This doctrine applies if the tortfeasor violated a criminal safety law, such as the DUI law, and that violation substantially caused the victim/plaintiff’s injuries. The evidence on this point could be direct or circumstantial.
If the tortfeasor provided a chemical sample that was over the legal limit, the tortfeasor was intoxicated as a matter of law. Even if the tortfeasor “beats” the DUI on a technicality or due to a lack of evidence, a Port St. Lucie jury can still apply the negligence per se shortcut. In a civil case, the jury determines all facts, including whether or not the tortfeasor was driving while intoxicated.
Other times, the aforementioned circumstantial evidence is so overwhelming that the jury can use it to conclude that the tortfeasor was DUI.
Third Party Liability in a Port St. Lucie Alcohol-Related Crash
A personal injury attorney fights for both compensation and justice. Sometimes, that means going beyond the tortfeasor to the person (or entity) that created the environment for the crash. In alcohol-related situations, if the commercial provider is not held liable, that provider will probably keep selling alcohol to impaired motorists.
So, Florida’s dram shop law often applies in these cases. Commercial providers are liable as a matter of law if the tortfeasor was under 21. If the tortfeasor was older, the victim/plaintiff must introduce additional evidence.
Third party alcohol liability may also be available against a party host, under a doctrine like negligent undertaking.
Contact Aggressive Lawyers
Substantial compensation is available in alcohol-related collision cases. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Port St. Lucie, contact Eighmie Law Firm, P.A. We do not charge upfront legal fees in negligence cases.