If a woman who is drunk and fighting with her boyfriend runs out onto the highway and gets hit by a car, can the driver be sued?

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If a woman who is drunk and fighting with her boyfriend runs out onto the highway and gets hit by a car, can the driver be sued?

The police report states that the accident was not the driver’s fault.

Asked on May 14, 2012 under Accident Law, New Jersey

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Liability depends on fault; fault in a case like this depends on negligence, or unreasonable carelessness. It is *possible* that the driver could be sued and the woman (or her survivors, if she was killed) might win, if it can be shown that the driver him/herself was driving carelessly--for example, if the driver, too, was drunk, or was driving too fast for conditions, or texting and driving, etc.

That said, it is unlikely that the woman would prevail in a lawsuit:

1) The police report is not binding on a civil jury or judge--they could find for the woman--but it will be powerful evidence; it is very persuasive that the police found no fault.

2) Even if the driver is also at fault, the woman is clearly at fault, too--she was drunk, she ran out onto a highway, etc. When the plaintiff (person suing) is also at fault, her fault will at least reduce what she could recover if she wins; if she is sufficiently at fault, it could even prevent her from recovering anything in many cases.


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