Insurers, Drivers, And Bars: Who Can Be Held Liable After A Drunk Driving Accident?
If you or someone you love has been injured in a car accident involving a drunk driver, you may be entitled to compensation. You may be able to get compensation for the cost of car repairs, medical bills, lost time at work, and pain and suffering. In order to be compensated, however, you need to prove that someone's negligence caused your injuries. In most cases, the drunk driver is liable, but there are other entities that may be liable as well.
If you take a drunk driver to court to get compensation for your injuries, the driver's insurance company is the entity that is the most likely to pay the claim. However, it's important to note that insurers are notorious for fighting these battles shrewdly, and for that reason, you need the best car accident lawyer you can find.
Before bringing forward a suit, it's also important to understand the laws in your state. If you live in a pure negligence state, you can always bring a civil suit against a negligent driver. In contrast, if you live in a no-fault state, there are restrictions on when you can take a driver to court.
In most no-fault states, you need to prove that you experienced more than property damage and slight injuries. If your injuries were relatively minor, your own insurance company will actually pick up the bill in these states. Regardless of whether you live in a no-fault or a pure negligence state, if the other party's insurer agrees to pay the claim, the amount of the claim is restricted based on how much insurance the driver had.
If the at-fault driver is not adequately insured, he or she may have to use his or her personal assets to take care of the settlement. If you know that the defendant has a lot of assets, this can be a lucrative avenue to pursue. Keep in mind, however, that an individual can just declare bankruptcy, and ultimately, that leaves you with the amount covered by their insurance policy anyway. Rather than putting liability on the driver, have your lawyer explore the possibility of holding the establishment that sold the drinks responsible.
Liquor Stores, Bars, and Restaurants
The person or business who gave the drinks to the driver can also be held liable for the driver's drunken behavior. For instance, after Texas-resident Ben Crosby died while running a red light while drunk, his surviving relatives decided to take the restaurant where he was drinking to court.
If someone you love is injured in a drunk driving crash, you may be able to hold the liquor store, the bar, or the restuarant serving the drinks responsible. To hold these entities responsible, your lawyer needs to argue that the staff knew the person being served was too drunk to safely continue drinking. Additionally, the lawyer needs to argue that the amount served was excessive. For instance, in Crosby's case, he was served 43 drinks in a four hour period. That is one drink every six minutes. However, it isn't just the restaurant or bar that can be held liable. Even friends of the driver can be held liable.
Friends and Family
Friends don't let friends drive drunk, and if they do, they could be held liable for the incident as well. After their son was killed by a drunk driver, a New York couple decided to bring a suit against the driver's mother. Apparently, she had given her son the keys even though he was too intoxicated to drive, making her culpable.
If you or a loved one was injured or killed in a car accident with a drunk driver, it's time to get justice. Contact an attorney today to learn about your rights.