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Contributory Negligence – Drunk Drivers

The festive season is fast approaching and while it is a magical time of year full of mince pies, presents and the Queen’s speech, it is also statistically the worst time of year for drink driving.

Unfortunately when we have had a bit to drink bad ideas can seem a lot more appealing. While we can all say now that we would never under any circumstances get in the car with someone that has had a drink, it may be a different story at closing time in the freezing cold when you can’t get a taxi.

This is a situation that you may find yourself in at this time of year and you may just be tempted to hop in the car with their friend that has had a couple. But what if you do go with that friend in their car and an unfortunate series of events unfold that lead to an accident and you being injured? Can you claim? Surely you knew the risks when you got in the car? – Well, the law has answers due to past cases that have been decided on these very same questions.

Owens v Brimmell [1977]

The Claimant and his friend were drinking together in the pub before getting in the friend’s car – the friend caused an accident while driving home.

The courts decided that the passenger should be able to get compensation. However, as they got into a car with someone they knew was drunk and unable to drive properly, it was decided that the Claimant had contributed to their injuries and their compensation was reduced by 20%.

Traynor v Donovan [1978] & Malone v Rowan [1984]

In this case the courts decided that if the passenger of the car did not know that the driver was over the drink drive limit and was not able to tell that they were over the limit then they had not contributed to their accident. Therefore the Claimant did not suffer any reduction of their compensation.

Booth v White [2003]

This case from 2003 combined elements of the cases above. The Claimant and his friend had been out drinking but had not been together all of the night. The Claimant got a lift home from this friend and knew that he had been drinking but did not know how much. They had an accident on the way home.

It was decided that the Claimant had not contributed to his injuries; he had no way of knowing that the driver of the car was over the limit and he had no responsibility to check.

It would be recommended to never getting in a car with a driver that you think has been drinking but if you do and are unfortunate enough to be injured then call The Injury Lawyers for professional, no obligation legal advice as to whether you could claim.

To find out more, just call 0800 634 7575 today.

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