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Personal Injury Liability and Alcohol: What if you were hurt after you were drinking?

April 15, 2017

Imagine leaving an event at a bar, and as you exit the building, you find yourself tumbling down the steps that are at the front of the bar. It turns out that you fell on a loose step. The result for you was a broken arm, and thousands in medical bills. You feel that the step was clearly a hazardous thing that led to your injuries. However, you were at a bar, and you had imbibed a few alcoholic beverages. How will the fact that you were drinking impact your ability to collect compensation from the owner of the property, or the bar?

Comparative Negligence in Georgia

In cases where the person harmed in a personal injury case was in part responsible for his or her own injuries, it is possible that the person will not be able to collect any compensation at all, or that they will receive less compensation than they would if the other party were completely at fault for the injuries. The way the claim works out will depend in part on the law in the state in which the incident occurred. Some few states still practice contributory negligence, which would basically make it so that the injured person who was in some way negligent will not be able to collect anything, even when another person clearly was far more negligent. However, most states practice comparative negligence. In these states, the responsibility each party bears for the incident is given a percentage, and the damages to the injured person are reduced by the percent of the responsibility that they bear.

The way this works out is that the injured person with 100,000 dollars' worth of damages, who was 20% responsible for their own injury, would only receive 80% of the compensation from the other negligent party. In the end, the injured person would, therefore, get 80,000 dollars. Many states say that if the injured person was more than 50% responsible, then they cannot collect from the other person. In such a situation, an injured party who was 80% responsible for his or her own injuries would not be able to collect 20% of the damages from the other party.

How Would Alcohol Impact Comparative Negligence in Georgia?

In the hypothetical example above, you fell because you stepped on a damaged and loose stair. There are several factors that would impact your claim. The first would be whether the stair had been damaged long and whether the business knew about it. If it just happened, then it is unlikely the bar would be found negligent when they could not have known of the danger it presented. But let us assume it was broken for several weeks, and had been pointed out by other customers, yet nothing was done to repair the step prior to your fall.

Next, you would have to determine what the cause of the fall was. Did you fall because of the loose stair, or was it because of your slightly intoxicated state? Did dozens of other people exit without any issue? Were you wobbling as you walked? If other people had no problem on the stair, and you seemed to be unsteady on your feet, you might find your damages somewhat reduced. On the other hand, perhaps the bar was negligent for not anticipating that some people who leave their particular type of establishment are likely to be uneasy on the feet. Based on an analysis of who bore the most fault, you might see your damages reduced.

Other Georgia Personal Injury Claims:

Alcohol can play a part in other forms of personal injury cases as well. For instance, a person who was drinking prior to being hit by a car will likely see the fact that they were drinking brought into the analysis. However, just because you were drinking does not mean that you necessarily were the cause of your injuries.

If you were injured in an accident caused by someone else's negligence, whether or not you had been drinking at the time, you should contact an attorney to have your claim evaluated.

Put Our Law Firm's Over 39 Years Of Legal Experience To Work For Your Case!

Montlick & Associates, Attorneys at Law has been representing those who suffer serious injuries throughout all of Georgia and in the Southeast for over 39 years, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state.

No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour live chat.


Montlick & Associates, Attorneys at Law

17 Executive Park Dr NE
Atlanta, GA 30329
Telephone: 1 (404) 529-6333
Toll Free: 1 (800) LAW-NEED

Category: Personal Injury

Please Note:
All information provided by our blogs is general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Consult a Montlick attorney for details about your unique situation.