Impaired Driving Accidents
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 10,000 people died as a result of drivers that were alcohol-impaired and crashed. These crashes cost more than $37 billion every year. Disturbingly, about 1/3 of drunk drivers are also repeat offenders. A number of them drive without their licenses. Impaired driving is responsible for a number of motorcycle accidents as well. The limited visibility of motorcycles in traffic is exacerbated when the driver of a passenger car is drunk or impaired. If you are hurt in an impaired driving accident, contact an experienced Maine motorcycle injury attorney for a consultation about your options.Negligence in Maine
A plaintiff hurt by a drunk or impaired driver may have a cause of action for negligence. To sue a driver for negligence, a plaintiff must show (1) a duty owed, (2) breach of that duty, (3) actual and proximate cause, and (4) damages. All drivers owe other drivers a duty to drive safely and to follow the rules; driving while impaired is a breach of that duty. "Proximate cause" means something is not only an actual cause but the legal cause of an accident. When a drunk driver's impaired driving directly causes an accident, it is also the proximate cause of the accident.
This analysis may be more complicated where an event breaks the causal chain. For example, if an impaired driver crashes into a stop sign, which requires an ambulance to respond, the impaired driving might cause a traffic jam. If the last car in the line of cars is driving with broken taillights and there are no lights in the neighborhood, a motorcyclist might not see the car stopped there. The last car might be considered a superseding or intervening cause, such that the original impaired driving is not the proximate cause of the motorcyclist's injuries.
If a motorcyclist drives after a few drinks and gets into an accident due to impaired decision making, he may be considered to be partially responsible for the accident. If he sues another driver for negligence, the defendant may ask the jury to use the doctrine of comparative negligence to reduce any settlement by the percentage of fault attributable to the motorcyclist. If the motorcyclist's impaired driving (or any other negligent behavior by him) is found 50% or more at fault for the accident, he will be barred from recovering.
Driving drunk is not the only type of impaired driving that can lead to liability. Driving under the influence of drugs, even in some cases legally prescribed drugs, can impair one’s ability to make reasonably prudent decisions behind the wheel of a car.Recover for Your Losses in an Impaired Driving Accident
In most states including Maine, a person who has a blood alcohol content of .08% or more is considered intoxicated. Maine does not recognize the doctrine of negligence per se; someone is not automatically negligent because he or she drinks or drives. However, a .08% BAC can be used as strong evidence of negligence. Those that are hurt in alcohol-impaired crashes should retain an experienced Maine motorcycle injury attorney to recover for their losses. Contact Peter Thompson & Associates at 800.804.2004 or via our online form.