Injured in a crash with a drunk driver: Negligence per se?

On Behalf of | Aug 5, 2021 | Injuries

No one wants to be involved in an accident of any type, but being injured in a collision with an intoxicated driver is even worse. The DUI laws are in place for very real reasons, and causing accidents and potential fatalities is chief among those situations legislatures intended to avoid with enhancing the law. And, for those who are impaired, it can often constitute negligence per se due to the fact that they were inebriated at the time while operating a vehicle against Massachusetts state law.

Assessing comparative negligence in Massachusetts

One of the first steps in adjudicating an auto accident in Massachusetts is reconstructing the accident and evaluating the actions and physical condition of each driver. Violations of highway rules and regulations can be a valid indicator of fault when the case is evaluated by insurance company adjusters and personal injury attorneys who are representing and sometimes defending their clients. Those drivers who are in violation of the criminal code such as driving under the influence are typically automatically at fault, which is termed negligence per se in accident adjudication.

Positive BAC may not constitute negligence per se

The mere fact that an involved driver has a positive BAC reading does not automatically mean they are totally at fault for an accident. Readings of 0.049% BAC and below are actually legal driving levels. Readings between 0.050% and 0.079%% are not criminal violations either, but it can generate a citation for “wet” reckless driving. This case fact can easily increase the comparative negligence percentage of the impaired driver when personal injury claims are negotiated.

Negligence per se applies primarily at 0.08% BAC level and above with enhanced claims for gross negligence beginning at 0.15% BAC. Details matter when being involved in an accident with an impaired driver, and an experienced Massachusetts personal injury attorney will know when claim values will increase.