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Plaintiff’s Voluntary Intoxication: New Jersey Injury Lawyer

In most circumstances, an intoxicated plaintiff “is held to the same standard of care as a sober person.”  Tose v. Greate Bay Hotel and Casino, Inc., 819 F. Supp. 1312, 1315 (D.N.J. 1993).  Thus, a plaintiff may not escape a finding of comparative negligence by claiming that their voluntary intoxication reduced the ability to perceive a potential risk, and a jury may allocate fault to a plaintiff to the extent the plaintiff’s voluntary intoxication was a factor that contributed to the incident in question.  The net effect is that plaintiff’s recovery can be diminished, or even precluded, based on the degree to which their voluntary intoxication caused or contributed to their injuries.

An exception to the general rule is the dram shop action.  In those actions, if the tavern or restaurant served alcoholic beverages to a visibly intoxicated plaintiff, the jury may not allocate fault to the plaintiff based on decisions made by the plaintiff after that service.  The percentage of fault assigned to plaintiff under those circumstances may reflect only the plaintiff’s fault in deciding to drink to the point of intoxication.