Can I File a Slip and Fall Claim if I Was Intoxicated?
Slip and fall claims are one of the most common types of personal injury cases. They happen quite often. But they are one of the hardest personal injury type lawsuits to win. The main difficulty with slip and fall cases is the notion that the injured victim is at least partially at fault as well. If you were intoxicated and then fell on a business’s property, this would affect your chances of winning the case because of you being partially at fault. Although it is difficult, it is not impossible.
A slip and fall case typically arises when someone is injured because of another person’s negligence or failure to maintain their property in a safe manner. The laws governing slip and fall accidents vary by state, but they share some basic elements. Generally, a property owner is responsible to maintain their property in a safe condition for the people that they invite on the property. For example, a shoe store has to make sure their sidewalk is clear of ice and snow after a snowstorm. If not, and someone slips and falls on the ice, the shoe store can be held liable for the injuries.
Does Intoxication Stop an Injured Person from Filing a Slip and Fall Lawsuit?
Intoxication does not prevent an injured party from filing a lawsuit against a property owner for the property owners’ negligence. Even if you were drunk, you still can seek compensation for your injuries. However, your inebriation is going to make the case a little harder.
If you slip and fall at a bar, club, or other establishment that serves alcohol, your claim will still hold if you can prove that the premises is responsible for the accident. Remember that slip and fall accidents are based on negligence. If you slip and fall in a restaurant because of a slippery floor, the restaurant employees still have an obligation to check the floor after mopping it. They still have an obligation to make sure the property is safe for its patrons. This obligation does not change for intoxicated customers. Actually, if the business sells alcohol to customers such as a bar or restaurant, the business’ obligation might be heightened and they have more of a duty. Since it is reasonable that a bar might have someone who is drunk walking around, the bar has a higher standard of care, especially toward intoxicated people.
However, slip and fall negligence cases are very fact specific, meaning that each case must be judged based on its own facts. As long as you can demonstrate that it was reasonably foreseeable that someone would slip and fall on the area you are suing over, then there is no reason why your claim should not be valid even if you were intoxicated at the time of your slip and fall incident.
If you slip and fall in a bar because you are intoxicated, your slip and fall claim will still hold up if there was something that caused the slip to happen. For example, suppose you slip and fall on a spill in a restaurant. Even though it is foreseeable that someone would slip when they walk over water, if no one else had slipped when walking by before when the floor was wet, the restaurant may not be held liable. You will need to show proof of negligence through circumstantial evidence, in this case, the fact that no one slipped and fell in the past when walking near this particular area. This is compared with the factual situation in which there was nothing on the floor that caused you to fall, but you fell because you were intoxicated. The difficult slip and fall cases are when there is both a dangerous and negligent condition on the property and the victim was intoxicated and the intoxication might have contributed to the fall, at least partially. These cases are where a jury must place a percentage of negligence on each party.
New Jersey follows the law of contributory negligence. Contributory negligence refers to looking at the negligence of the injured party, if any. With most personal injury cases, you only look at the negligence of the at-fault party or the defendant. But in New Jersey, with certain cases, the law allows the courts and juries to consider if the injured party or plaintiff contributed at all to the accident and the causation of the injuries. Basically, was the injured party contributorily negligent?
If so, the jury deciding the case would place a percentage of contributory negligence on the plaintiff. Whatever that percentage is, then whatever award of money damages the jury gives to the plaintiff, it is reduced by the percentage of contributory negligence. For example, suppose a patron slips and falls at a grocery store. The jury determined that the plaintiff was partially at fault and attributed 10 percent fault to the plaintiff and 90 percent fault to the defendant grocery store. The jury then determined that the plaintiff’s injuries are worth $100,000. Ultimately, the plaintiff’s award of damages would be reduced by 10 percent and they would receive $90,000.
Therefore, with a plaintiff who was intoxicated, it is possible that a jury can find that the plaintiff was at least partially responsible because of the intoxication. That is why these cases are difficult but not impossible to win, especially given the facts. If the plaintiff can show through competent and credible evidence that their intoxicated state had nothing to do with the accident and fall, it is possible the injured party could recover the full amount of compensation they would be due.
New Jersey also follows the comparative negligence law. Under the comparative negligence law, an individual’s fault for the accident cannot be more than the individual from whom damages are sought. For example, suppose a jury finds an intoxicated bar patron 75 percent responsible for their slip and fall injuries, and the bar only 25 percent responsible. In this scenario, the injured bar patron would be unable to recover any compensation.
Highland Park Slip and Fall Lawyers at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr Have Experience in Slip and Fall Accidents
It can be traumatic to be involved in a slip and fall accident. If you have been injured in a slip and fall accident, the experienced Highland Park slip and fall lawyers at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr will advocate for you so that you receive the compensation for which you are entitled. Call us today at 877-249-4600 or 732-537-8570 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Highland Park, New Jersey, we serve clients in New Brunswick, Somerset, Piscataway, Edison, South River, Sayreville, Metuchen, East Brunswick, South Plainfield, Fords, Middlesex, Old Bridge, Iselin, Bound Brook, Perth Amboy, Colonia, Elizabeth, and Newark.