Florida Court Discusses Evidence of Comparative Negligence in Car Accident Cases

A person injured in a car accident will often pursue claims against the driver that caused the accident. In many instances, the person named as a defendant will attempt to evade liability by arguing that the plaintiff, in some way, contributed to causing the accident. For example, if a pedestrian lacks the capacity to walk safely and is struck by a vehicle, the driver may seek to introduce evidence of the pedestrian’s incapacitation in an effort to avoid being found at fault. The evidence that is admissible to demonstrate contributory negligence was the topic of a recent Florida ruling, in a case in which the plaintiff, who was intoxicated, was struck by the defendant driver. If you were hurt in a collision, it is in your best interest to speak to a skillful Florida car accident attorney to assess your rights.

The Evidence Admitted at Trial

It is reported that the plaintiff was walking along the side of a highway when he was struck by a car driven by the defendant. Police investigating the accident determined that the plaintiff had been drinking earlier in the day after he said he consumed two alcoholic beverages. He admitted to being “buzzed” and stated he did not know where he was going and was attempting to call a friend when he was struck. The defendant saw the plaintiff prior to the collision and was not distracted or impaired due to drugs or alcohol.

Allegedly, after he saw the plaintiff, he moved into the other lane to give him more room but struck him regardless. During the trial, the defendant admitted evidence from a toxicologist indicating that the plaintiff’s blood alcohol content at the time of the accident was .18 and that the plaintiff was impaired. Following the final verdict, the plaintiff appealed, arguing the introduction of intoxication evidence was improper.

Admissibility of Evidence of Intoxication

Under Florida law, evidence is relevant if it is likely to disprove or prove a relevant fact. In a case in which a defendant alleges comparative negligence, the fact finder must review the specific allegations of factual negligence from each party in order to accurately determine the totality of fault. The appellate court explained that whether a person is under the influence of alcohol to the extent that his or her normal capabilities are impaired is a question of fact.

Therefore, it should be determined by the fact-finder when evidence that is clear and not speculatory or subject to conjecture is presented on the issue. In the subject case, the court found that the testimony from the defendant’s toxicologist was relevant and proper as to the issue of the plaintiff’s impairment. Thus, the trial court ruling was affirmed.

Speak with an Experienced Florida Attorney

Many defendants in cases arising out of car accidents will seek to introduce any evidence that demonstrates they are not liable, but not all evidence is admissible. If you were hurt in a car accident, it is prudent to speak to a lawyer to discuss your options for protecting your interests. The experienced Florida attorneys of Lusk, Drasites & Tolisano, P.A. take pride in helping injured parties pursue justice for their losses, and if you hire us, we will advocate tirelessly in your favor. We can be contacted via the form online or at 800-283-7442 to schedule a meeting.

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