Olympic Swimmer Ryan Lochte Rear-Ends Gainesville Motorist

Olympic swimmer and Florida resident Ryan Lochte recently added yet another sad chapter to his long history of alcohol-fueled misbehavior after becoming involved in a motor vehicle accident in Gainesville in which he rear-ended another vehicle less than 24 hours after attempting to break into his own hotel room at 3:00 a.m. in Orange County, California.  Lochte has a long history of misdeeds while under the influence of alcohol.  This includes an incident after the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics in which he and three other American swimmers claimed to be robbed at gunpoint in a story that later turned out to be false.  Lochte and the three other swimmers had instead gone out to celebrate the conclusion of the Olympics with a long night of heavy drinking and allegedly had vandalized a sign at a gas station the swimmers stopped by in order to attempt to use a locked restroom.  When the swimmers discovered the bathroom was locked, they vandalized the gas station.  Security guards at the gas station reportedly had to pull their weapons on the swimmers in order to convince them to leave and to pay for the damage they had caused.  Criminal charges were filed against Lochte by Brazilian authorities but were eventually dismissed by a Brazilian court.  Nevertheless, he was suspended for ten months by the International and USA Olympic Committees and USA Swimming for his actions in connection with this incident.  This latest string of misbehavior is likely to prompt an insurance claim, and perhaps even a lawsuit, by the driver he rear-ended.

Lochte’s Latest Incidents of Alcohol-Fueled Misbehavior

According to a report from the New York Daily News, Lochte’s latest incident consisted of a motor vehicle accident less than a day after Lochte was nearly arrested in Ventura, California for attempting to break into his hotel room when, while intoxicated, he could not locate his room key at 3:00 in the morning.  According to the police report from the Gainesville accident, Lochte reported to police that the driver in front of him on his way home from the airport abruptly slammed on the brakes and that he swerved in an attempt to avoid striking the back of the vehicle but was unable to do so in time to avoid rear-ending the car.  The driver of the car Lochte rear-ended was transported to a nearby hospital for treatment for non-life-threatening injuries, while a passenger in his car was uninjured in the accident.  Both vehicles reportedly were towed from the scene of the accident due to damage, with Lochte’s Porsche having suffered an estimated $5,000 in damage.  Lochte was cited for careless driving, which is a moving violation under Florida law that carries with it a fine ranging between $160 and $500, but there was no mention in the police report or subsequent media coverage of the motor vehicle accident as to whether the consumption of alcohol by Lochte was involved in the accident.

To What Extent Are a Motorist’s Past Misdeeds Admissible as Evidence in a Later Lawsuit Involving a Separate Motor Vehicle Accident?

Many persons on both sides of lawsuits involving motor vehicle accidents in Florida are rightly concerned about what information regarding their previous criminal history, other car accidents or other mistakes in their past may come into evidence at a trial.  Criminal convictions are routinely excluded from evidence at trial, because criminal convictions are often deemed by judges to be more prejudicial than probative.  This is a fancy way of saying the evidence of the person having been convicted of a crime would be more likely to cause a jury to find against the person because he or she may have made a mistake in the past rather than because it had any bearing on any issue which was in dispute in the actual lawsuit.

Habitually drinking alcohol and getting into accidents falls into a different category than a person’s past criminal misbehavior altogether, however.  Although Lochte’s attorney is quoted in the Daily News article as having admitted the swimmer has a problem with alcohol, the swimmer clearly has a history with both consumption of alcohol and then making poor decisions, whether it be the incident at the Rio Olympics or his recent hotel incident in California.  This may be something that could potentially be used against him at trial if his insurer were to deny the accident victim’s claim, a lawsuit was filed, and the case were to go to trial.  This would be particularly true if Lochte were to dispute that he was at fault for the accident, which could potentially make his other escapades immediately prior to the accident fair game, particularly if it later comes out that Lochte was indeed drinking either immediately prior to or some hours before the accident occurred.  Given these behaviors do not involve criminal actions but instead reflect a pattern of alcohol consumption in large quantities followed by some sort of property damage or misbehavior, then this would fit with evidence that a judge may decide indicates a pattern on Lochte’s part of drinking and then making poor decisions, like vandalizing a gas station or getting behind the wheel of a car.

Contact the Experienced Motor Vehicle Accident Attorneys of Schwed, Adams & McGinley if You Have Been Injured by a Careless Driver 

At Schwed, Adams & McGinley, our experienced personal injury attorneys have more than 150 years of combined practice representing victims of all sorts of motor vehicle accidents.  We have represented thousands of people who were injured in motor vehicle accidents, including by other motorists who may have been drinking or may have a history like Ryan Lochte of partying and then getting into accidents or other similar episodes of misbehavior.  We know the rules of evidence inside and out and we know how to use those rules in order to present the best possible case for our clients.  Therefore, if you, a family member, or a loved one have been injured in a motor vehicle accident because of another motorist’s actions, contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at Schwed, Adams & McGinley, P.A today at 877-694-6079 or contact@schwedlawfirm.com for a free consultation.