Assumptions!

You’ve heard of the dangers of just assuming.

Assuming someone likes you, assuming you’ll get the promotion, assuming the little dog with the big ears and fluffy tail won’t bite.

These are assumptions that often lead to bad decisions and their uncomfortable consequences.

However, it can be even more dangerous when an assumption forms an alliance with public opinion. Such assumptions are costly because they lead to lost chances.

Assumptions about drunken people

One such an association is assuming that drunken people are always responsible and ‘guilty’ for the accidents they’re involved in.

When misfortune strikes an intoxicated person, we tend to shake our heads and utter something similar to; “They deserved what they got!”  

Even a loved one will often hold back their sympathy when a family member or friend injures themselves while under the influence of alcohol.

This could prove to be costly because intoxicated people often wrongly assume they’re the guilty party.  This may not be the case and they may be entitled to damages.

You are entitled to compensation even if you had a drink or two

You can claim for compensation when you get injured after having too much to drink. Often, it might even be that you are innocent.   Don’t just assume your claim will be unsuccessful because you had a drink or two.

The circumstances determine the case

If you’ve been injured while under the influence of alcohol it is irrelevant whether you are a perpetual drunk, an occasional drinker or a first time offender. What matters are the circumstances surrounding the event, not necessarily the condition of the individual or their actions. In other words, the ‘who’ is not important, but rather the ‘how’ and ‘why’ is.    

Please don’t assume that alcohol consumption bars you from claiming damages in your slip and fall case. Someone else might be liable for your damages.  

Always keep in mind that every slip, trip, and fall claim is evaluated on the unique circumstances surrounding the incident.

Factors to consider in alcohol-related slip and fall accidents

The level of intoxication

The legal amount of alcohol allowed when driving on public roads in Pennsylvania is 0.08% per blood volume. For minors under the age of 21, the amount is even lower. They are only allowed to drive if they have 0.02% or less alcohol in their blood.

This ‘level’ has a bearing on the ability of a person to act in a rational and corresponding way and will be considered when evaluating a slip and fall accident.

Under 0.08%

Blood alcohol levels under 0.08% are considered low and have a little impact on the ability of the individual to act rationally.   You would normally be able to act in a sensible manner, even if you had that drink. The higher the level of alcohol in your blood, the more you will be affected.

Higher levels of alcohol per blood unit

Blood alcohol levels between 0.2% and 0.4% will start to affect someone remarkably.   Such a person will exhibit an obvious lack of coordination and show impaired consciousness because the mid-brain is now affected by the alcohol.

Between 0.35% and 0.5% alcohol per unit of blood, the person will enter the ‘coma’ phase where breathing is compromised and blood flow is slowed down dramatically. No person will be able to function rationally at this level of intoxication.

If blood alcohol levels were ascertained during a slip and fall accident, the numbers may or may not affect your claim, depending on the circumstances.  

Witnesses

Statements of witnesses often play an important role and are a factor to keep in mind in an alcohol slip and fall case.

With the inclusion of cameras in modern cell phones, detailed information is often captured about incidents. Visual proof may have a bearing on the outcome of slip and fall cases, especially when alcohol is involved.

Conditions on the property/premises of the accident

The condition of the premises where the accident occurred will be crucial in a slip and fall accident. A lack of lighting, slippery surfaces, faulty infrastructure and other prevailing dangers will have to be evaluated for their role in the accident by an experienced slip and fall attorney.   

Notice provisions

Pennsylvania law requires that certain notice provisions have to be met when an alcohol-related premises liability is pursued. Was the injured person warned of a potentially dangerous condition? Should they have realized that a dangerous condition existed? Be prepared to answer these questions when the defense probes for answers.

Whose fault was it really?

Under Pennsylvania law, the owner or operator of the premises has to be more than 50% responsible for the accident if the victim is to claim damages successfully.

If the injured person was intoxicated during the accident they will often have to prove their innocence, i.e. they have to prove that they were less than 50% responsible for their own accident. This can be extremely challenging in an alcohol-related injury.   

It would be best to contact your experienced Philadelphia slip and fall attorney as soon as possible after such an incident so that the facts of the case can be closely examined.   

Yes, I was drunk, but the owner was negligent

Gross negligence must be proved

When there is alcohol involved, the injured person often needs to prove more than just the ‘usual negligence’ on the part of the owners or operators of the premises. The injured party often has to prove that the owners grossly violated their duty of care.  

Duty of care

Normal duty of care involves that the premises where the accident happened should have been reasonably safe.   Should the property owner do not fulfill that duty and the victim were harmed as a direct result, the process of proving negligence can begin.   However, the harm must have been considerable and the duty of care grossly violated.

The duty of care to different people

All visitors to a property are not created equal.  

  • If the victim is a trespasser, the law in Pennsylvania will protect the owner. The owner has no duty of care to the visiting intruder, except if they deliberately injured the person. An example would be to set a trap for unwanted visitors. This will make the owner liable.
  • If the person visited on their own accord and for their own care, the duty of care is still higher for the owner. An example would be a neighbor entering your premises to borrow sugar.  The owner has a duty to warn the neighbor of any imminent danger
  • Here the victim is owed the highest care. This is when the visitor was invited to visit or invited to purchase goods or services on the premises. The reason for the higher care is because the visit benefits the owner.

What to do if you were injured when under the influence of alcohol.

Each case is different

Each case is evaluated on merit. Generally speaking, the victim will have a very strong case if they can prove that the owner acted maliciously or grossly negligent.

An example would be a faulty roof beam falling on an intoxicated patron while he is sitting at the bar of the establishment. The victim was injured through no fault of their own and they would have a strong case, especially if they can prove that the beam had been faulty for a while and the owner refused to fix it.

In some cases, liability will be shared

Cases, where there is shared accountability, especially where blood alcohol levels were not measured and recorded, can prove to be a lot trickier.

If witnesses testify that the person was ‘drunk’ and she trips and falls over a marked step in a badly lit area of a club, then liability on the part of the owner will be more difficult to prove by the victim.

Either party could win the case, depending on the circumstances.  

The irresponsible drunk

In cases where the intoxicated person acts irresponsibly, they will often have a very weak case. The victim will be unwise to claim compensation when they violated the rules of an establishment.

If a drunken cowboy decides to ride a well-constructed chandelier in a bar against the wishes of the owner they would certainly be looking for trouble. If the cable snaps or they lose their grip and fall they would in all probability be unsuccessful in a claim.       

Conclusion

Normal slip, trip, and fall accidents are often complex and require input from a legal representative. When there is alcohol involved it becomes even more intricate.

You may still have a case

Please do not assume that people give up their basic rights when they drink alcohol, though it does make it more taxing to prove someone else’s liability.    

You should contact your Pennsylvanian slip and fall attorney as soon as possible if you find yourself in such a situation.   Such a lawyer will be able to gauge your unique case and give advice on the merits of pursuing compensation for your injuries.