Some drivers may have a heightened duty of care. Primarily, these include common carriers, such as bus drivers. It does not, according to a recent ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, include designated drivers. Such drivers are members of the group who agree to abstain from drinking alcohol or taking drugs in order to be able safely to drive others in the group, thus avoiding a potentially tragic drunk driving accident.
In the case recently before the Eighth Circuit, the trial court in North Dakota applied a higher standard of care to the sober designated driver – something statutory and case law did not support. This fact was especially important here because of the way that state approaches comparative fault. Here in Florida, we follow a pure comparative fault model, per F.S. 768.81. This means even if a plaintiff is deemed 99 percent at-fault for an accident, he or she can still collect on the other 1 percent (though an attorney would have to weigh carefully the wisdom of pursuing a case with such long odds). However, many other jurisdictions do not allow plaintiffs to recover if they bear 50 percent or more of the fault burden. Continue reading ›