Last month, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a Florida motorcycle accident case discussing the “drug and alcohol defense” which, in certain situations, can completely preclude a plaintiff’s ability to recover for their injuries after a serious accident.
Under Florida’ comparative fault system, even a plaintiff who is partially at fault can recover for their injuries. In these situations, the court would first determine the appropriate amount of damages the plaintiff sustained as a result of the accident and then reduce the actual damages award by the plaintiff’s own percentage of fault.
The drug and alcohol defense is an exception to this general rule. Under Florida Statutes section 768.36, a plaintiff cannot recover for their injuries if the defendant can establish that the plaintiff was 1.) “under the influence of any alcoholic beverage or drug to the extent that the plaintiff’s normal faculties were impaired,” or that the plaintiff’s blood-alcohol content was .08 or greater, and 2.) “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.”