Hit While Drunk: Can an Intoxicated Pedestrian Sue?


After a long night of drinking, the last thing you should do is drive home. If you live near where you spent your evening imbibing, you may feel that walking is the responsible alternative. However, doing so can be both physically and financially dangerous. 

When you think of alcohol-related accidents, most people think of drunk drivers. While it may not be a popular topic, statistics show that pedestrians who have overindulged in alcohol consumption are also prone to severe injuries or death. 

Dangers of Drunk Walking 

When you are walking drunk, you are more likely to get into an accident. However, getting into an accident while under the influence as a pedestrian does not automatically put you at fault. In fact, the driver can still be liable for the accident, even if they were sober. 

Negligence is often the culprit in pedestrian accidents. Studies show that car accidents involving drunk pedestrians are typically caused by a fault of the driver. There are, however, incidents where the pedestrian is at fault for the accident. The person who wins the liability case depends on a number of things, including which party had the right of way. 

The Disadvantages of Drinking and Walking 

When you decide to walk while you are drunk, there are some disadvantages. For example:

  • You have impaired reflexes, making it hard to dodge an accident
  • You can be difficult to see, especially in places with fewer street lights
  • You are smaller and more fragile than a car, so you are likely to suffer severe bodily injuries

Determining the Responsible Party 

Although being drunk while walking can make you a liability, it does not automatically put you at fault. For instance, if the drunk pedestrian is at an intersection and a car decides to keep going rather than stopping at the light, they are responsible for the accident. On the other hand, if the vehicle has the right of way, and the drunk pedestrian ignores their cue to stop, the driver is not responsible for the resulting accident. 

Sometimes, both parties can be at fault. In some cases, the driver and drunk pedestrian are each penalized for damages. This penalization is referred to as comparative negligence. 

When you are drunk, your reflexes are not as sharp as when you are sober. Therefore, a drunk driver may not be able to stop quickly enough to avoid hitting the pedestrian. Being drunk also interferes with depth perception. Therefore, a pedestrian may overestimate the amount of time and space between themselves and a car prior to the accident. 

Regardless of how injured a drunk pedestrian is, their injuries don’t make them less at fault if deemed responsible. In fact, they may still be accountable for the damages caused to the driver or their vehicle. 

Going to Court

When you get to court, you will need as much evidence as possible to prove your case. Examples of evidence worth bringing to court include:

  • Medical tests
  • Skid marks 
  • Eyewitness testimonies 
  • Post-accident blood or urine test results 

If you win, but the court deems you partially responsible for the accident, a portion of your winnings will be awarded to the other party. For example, if you win 40,000 dollars in the lawsuit and the court believes 10 percent if the accident is your fault, the party responsible for the other 90 percent will only have to pay you 36,000 dollars, rather than the full 40,000.

If you are involved in an accident, seek legal help immediately after you receive medical attention. An injury lawyer can assess the damage, who is at fault for the accident, and potentially win you compensation. In the future, do your best to avoid going out drinking without a designated driver. 

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