Are Drunk Drivers 100% At Fault in an Accident?

March 5, 2021

Drunk drivers are the cause of many accidents on Kentucky roadways. Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol can lead to impaired judgment, slow response times, and severe accidents. So, you may believe that they are 100% responsible if they are involved in an accident.

Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. There are several scenarios where drunk drivers may not be found legally liable or may only share partial responsibility for a car accident.

Proving Fault

In Kentucky, it’s essential to establish fault in an accident. Whoever is at fault will typically be responsible for compensating other accident victims for their injuries and damages through a civil lawsuit or insurance claim.

A drunk driver isn’t automatically at fault for an accident, and proving the driver was drunk does not guarantee that you’ll win a lawsuit. The courts may find that the driver’s drunkenness was not the main factor or cause of the accident.

To help understand, imagine a drunk driver is stopped at a stoplight when a distracted passing driver veers out of their lane and crashes into the front of the stopped vehicle. In this situation, the distracted driver would cause the accident, not the drunk driver. While the responding officer may arrest the drunk driver for driving under the influence, it’s unlikely they would be held responsible for causing the accident.

Shared Responsibility

Sometimes a drunk driver may only share a portion of the responsibility. Perhaps the drunk driver was swerving or driving extremely slow, and another vehicle passes the car in a no-passing zone at a high rate of speed resulting in an accident. In this case, both drivers may share responsibility for causing the accident.

In some cases, a third party may also share responsibility. In Kentucky, the state’s Dram Shop Liability Law may hold a licensed vendor who sells or serves alcohol responsible for serving the intoxicated driver prior to the accident. 

Bars, restaurants and other establishments licensed to sell alcohol have a legal responsibility. Therefore, if a drunk driver kills someone after leaving a bar, their family may be able to pursue a wrongful death case against the establishment.

Seek Legal Advice

Understanding who is responsible can sometimes be unclear or difficult to determine. It all depends on the circumstances involved in.  Consulting an experienced personal injury lawyer can save many headaches.

At Saladino & Schaaf, our personal injury attorneys have over 75 years of combined experience representing Kentuckians involved in drunk driving accidents. Contact one of our attorneys today to discuss your case at 270-444-0406 (Paducah) / 270-753-1529 (Murray) or contact us online for a free case evaluation.




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Are Drunk Drivers Always at Fault?




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