Earlier this month, an appellate court in Washington State issued a written opinion in a car accident case brought by a woman who was injured when she was struck by a Highway Patrolman’s vehicle. Immediately after the accident, the plaintiff admitted that she was under the influence of alcohol. The court determined that her unambiguous admission prevented her from claiming otherwise from then on in any trial proceedings. Thus, under state law, the case was dismissed.
The Facts of the Case
The plaintiff was drinking at a party with some friends when she got into a fight with one of the other people at the party. She left the party, and because she had been drinking, she called her brother to pick her up. After waiting for a while and not seeing her brother, the plaintiff saw a car approaching and thought it was him. She ran out in front of the car, which was actually a Highway Patrol vehicle. The Highway Patrol officer did not see the plaintiff in time to stop the vehicle, and struck her. After the accident, the plaintiff admitted to investigators that she had been drinking.
The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against both the State as well as against the Highway Patrol. In its defense, the defendants argued that the plaintiff’s admission that she was intoxicated prevented her from recovering for her injuries under state law. The law at issue prevents recovery when a plaintiff is intoxicated, the intoxication was the cause of the accident, and the plaintiff was more than 50% at fault.
The plaintiff argued that the admission was not unambiguous, and should not be given a conclusive effect. Specifically, the plaintiff presented the testimony of a friend, who explained that the plaintiff did not appear to be intoxicated on the night of the accident. However, the court held that the plaintiff’s admission was sufficient for the court to assign it a conclusive effect. As a result, the plaintiff will not be permitted to pursue her case for damages against the defendants.
Similar Laws Are in Effect in Maryland
Under Maryland law, this case would likely have turned out the same. In Maryland, any injury victim who is determined to be at all at fault for the accident causing their injuries will not be permitted to seek compensation for their damages through a personal injury lawsuit. This strict rule, called contributory negligence, requires plaintiffs to plan their cases very carefully. Anyone injured in a Maryland car accident should seek the counsel of a dedicated personal injury attorney.
Have You Been Involved in a Maryland Car Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been the victim of another driver’s negligence, you may be entitled to monetary compensation through a Maryland personal injury lawsuit. The skilled injury advocates at the law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen Personal Injury Lawyers have decades of collective experience representing clients in all types of personal injury cases, including those arising from car accidents. Call 410-654-3600 today to set up a free consultation with a dedicated attorney today.
More Blog Posts:
As Autonomous Car Technology Advances, Legal Issues Arise, Maryland Car Accident Attorney Blog, published March 7, 2017.
Court Allows Negligent Entrustment Claim to Proceed Against Employer that Allowed an Employee to Use a Company Vehicle for Personal Use, Maryland Car Accident Attorney Blog, published February 23, 2017.