Lowered inhibitions due to the excessive consumption of alcohol can harm you and others around you. You might just be having fun or loosening up after a stressful week at work, but being drunk in a public place can leave you at risk of being fined or even arrested.
As Australia’s most widely-consumed drug, it’s no surprise that alcohol leads to the most accidents and injuries. On a worldwide scale, it’s to blame for 10-18% of all visits to the emergency room.
If you’ve been injured while intoxicated in public, you might think you have to shoulder the entire blame. However, this isn’t always true. Read on to find out more about drinking in public and the actions to take if you’re injured whilst under the influence.
The laws for drinking in public in Victoria
Licensed bars and restaurants aside, there are laws against drinking in public places in Victoria, as a protective measure for people around you. There are three offences relating to being drunk in a public place and if police think you are guilty for any of them, you could be arrested and charged. They are:
- Being drunk (i.e. slurred speech, odd behaviour)
- Drunk and behaving in a riotous manner (i.e. making a member of the public fear a disturbance of the peace is likely)
- Being drunk and disorderly (i.e. disturbing the peace, interfering with others)
Depending on the law you break, you could receive up to 20 penalty points and/or a two-month prison sentence.
Can you make a public liability claim if you were intoxicated?
Things can get complicated if you are drunk in public and you receive an injury that was due to the negligence of someone else. Can you still make a personal injury claim if alcohol is involved?
In short; yes, you can. If a personal injury claim is progressed to a judge, the rules of the Civil Liability Act still apply.
While the injured person isn’t assumed to be completely at-fault just because they were under the influence of alcohol, they are presumed to be a contributing factor to negligence. This could reduce the compensation the injured person is liable to receive, by a minimum of 25%. The actual reduction in compensation is assessed on a case-by-case basis.
If you’re involved in a car accident when drink-driving, the minimum payout reduction is 50%.
If it can be proven that the intoxication of the claimant was not a factor in the accident, an exception may be made and the presumption of contributory negligence can be waived. An exception may also be made if the claimant was not drunk due to their own consumption of alcohol, but because their drink was spiked.
Establishing liability for a traffic accident involving a drunk person
It can be extremely difficult to place the blame, when an accident occurred during a night out where one or more people involved were intoxicated. If a driver hits a drunk pedestrian – whether that driver was drunk or sober – a few questions need to be answered before liability can be determined.
- Did the pedestrian have enough time in which to respond and avoid the accident?
- Had the driver drunk any alcohol?
- What were the weather and driving conditions like?
- Did the pedestrian cross the road when it was unsafe to do so?
- Did the pedestrian walk along the road instead of the footpath?
- Was the pedestrian engaging in reckless or disorderly behaviour which caused them to fall onto the road?
- Was the pedestrian ignoring crossing signals, such as traffic lights?
Remember that if both the driver and the pedestrian were intoxicated, the law tends to favour the pedestrian’s side.
How to claim for an injury that happened when you were drunk
The fact that you’d been enjoying a drink before an accident may not be a causing factor, so you could still claim for compensation. The process can be more complicated, so it’s recommended that you seek the help of a lawyer.
As with all compensation claims, you should engage professional legal advice following your accident. Note down all the details of your accident and obtain medical assistance quickly. If your memory is a little hazy, ask witnesses for their account of what happened.
If possible, take photos of your injury and of the scene where the accident took place. Your lawyer will be able to take you through the next steps to get the best possible outcome.
You might be able to make a claim for:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of earnings
- Medical expenses
- Travel costs (e.g. to hospital appointments)
Call the experts at u-Law on 1300 166 022 to discuss your personal injury and start the claims process.