Evidence of Alcohol Consumption and Your Pennsylvania Auto Accident Case
If you are hurt in an accident in which you were the driver, one of the challenges you may face is the defense’s attempts to depict you as the driver who was really at fault. The evidence may directly relate to your driving, or it may involve other things, such as your potential impairment. In certain situations, you may be entitled to keep that proof of impairment out of your personal injury case. A knowledgeable Pennsylvania motorcycle accident attorney can give you the assistance you need to accomplish this important goal.
A lawsuit filed by a motorcyclist in Bradford County demonstrated how it’s possible to keep out this type of potentially damaging evidence. The motorcyclist, Kevin, was driving his motorcycle on Route 220 on an April evening in 2012. He was behind two commercial trucks and, when he reached a legal passing zone, attempted to pass both on the left. As Kevin tried to pass the lead truck, that vehicle attempted to turn left into a gas station. The truck and motorcycle collided. The motorcyclist’s injuries were so serious that he required an above-the-knee amputation of his right leg.
The motorcyclist sued the driver of the lead truck and that man’s employer. There was, however, certain potentially harmful facts that Kevin wanted to keep out of his trial. He had, on the day of the accident, consumed some beer. Over the course of his day-long motorcycle ride, he and a friend had consumed seven beers at several bars across a period of six hours, with the last beers consumed along with dinner.
The trial court ruled the evidence admissible, but the Superior Court concluded that the motorcyclist was entitled to a new trial without that evidence. The reason Kevin won his appeal is important for anyone who happens to have consumed alcohol before being injured due to someone else’s potential negligence. Pennsylvania law says that proof of alcohol consumption is not admissible in a civil case unless that evidence shows that the person who drank was so intoxicated that it impaired his fitness to drive.
In Kevin’s case, he spoke to several people shortly after the accident, including the truck driver, a state trooper, EMS workers, an airlift crew, and hospital staff. None of those people indicated that Kevin appeared inebriated, and none saw him display any of the typical signs of intoxication, like incoherent mumbling, glassy or bloodshot eyes, or smelling like alcohol.
In late December 2017, the Supreme Court refused to take the defendants’ appeal, meaning that the Superior Court’s decision in Kevin’s favor will stand, and he will get a new trial. While Kevin will receive that new trial, he will still face challenges to his case. Allegedly, the motorcyclist told an eyewitness that he “[expletive]d up” and stated to the truck driver “don’t worry about it, it’s my fault.” These alleged facts are a reminder to be very cautious in the aftermath of your accident. You should avoid making unnecessary statements about your accident and your degree of blame for it until you’ve consulted with counsel.
If you’ve been hurt in an auto accident, contact the experienced Pennsylvania motorcycle accident attorneys at Needle Law Firm. We have been providing skillful representation and personalized attention to our clients for many years and are here to discuss your matter with you.
Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation by calling 570-344-1266.