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Drinking and Walking Don’t Mix in Maine

crosswalk-579029-m.jpgEveryone knows that drunk driving can kill you, but what about drunk walking in Maine and other states? The U.S. government recently released data compiled by all the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration from reports by state highway departments. It showed 1/3 of pedestrians killed in 2011 (1,547 out of 4,432 pedestrians) were drunk, up 3% from the prior year. The pedestrians had blood alcohol content measures that exceeded the legal driving limit. In contrast, only 13% of drivers involved in pedestrian fatalities were over the legal limit.

The data demonstrates that if you are going someplace where you intend to drink, you’re better off arranging a cab or getting a designated driver to drive you home, rather than walking, driving or biking home. While drivers have become more conscious of the hazards of drunk driving due to harsh drunk driving penalties, they have not necessarily realized that drunk walking can present many of the same hazards as driving.

Just as alcohol impairs your judgment while driving, it can impair your judgment while walking. Alcohol lowers your inhibitions and reduces your good judgment and impulse control. Accordingly, alcohol can cause you to do impulsive things that you would normally avoid, like try to beat a bus or train that is approaching, cross against red lights, or cross a road where there is no light in the dark. It can also, quite simply, distract you from watching where you’re going.

Beyond the basic safety concerns, if you do get hurt in a drunk walking accident, there can be significant legal ramifications. Maine is a comparative negligence state. This means that in a personal injury or wrongful death action against a driver or other entity, your recovery is reduced by the percentage to which you are at fault or responsible for your own injuries. For example, if your spouse is drinking at a bar and decides to walk home, then misjudges the amount of time a car will take to reach an intersection, and is killed, he or she could be found comparatively negligent.

The jury will have to consider your spouse’s alcohol impairment in determining the degree of fault borne by him or her and the driver of the car. If the driver of the car was doing everything right, it is possible your loved one will be found 100% comparatively negligent and you may not be able to claim compensation for medical expenses, funeral expenses, pain and suffering, loss of companionship, or any other loss you suffered. Of course, if the car is speeding or the driver of the car is similarly impaired by alcohol, the jury may reach other conclusions about the driver’s degree of fault.

In the same scenario, if the car does see your spouse at the last minute, swerves and crashes into a tree or parked vehicle, your spouse could be responsible for the resulting property damage and personal injuries of the driver.

If, in another example, you are drunk walking home from a party and a car swerves out of nowhere and knocks you down, your alcohol impairment could prevent you from identifying the car for police or your lawyer and prevent you from being a credible witness if the case ever goes to trial.

As you can see, many harsh consequences can result from drunk walking, which do not get addressed very often in Maine or elsewhere in the United States. If you are injured or a loved one is killed in a drunk walking accident, contact the experienced Maine personal injury attorneys of Briggs & Wholey.

An experienced personal injury attorney looks at all possible causes and sources of financial compensation for your injuries. Contact the Maine personal injury lawyers at Briggs & Wholey, LLC by phone or via our online form for a free consultation.

More Blog Posts:

Study Claims Drivers in Maine and Across the U.S. Are Distracted More Than They Realize, Maine Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, June 13, 2013
One Hurt in Negligent York County Traffic Wreck, Maine Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, June 7, 2013