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Personal Injury From Car Accident Involving A Drunk Driver

This article shares some great advice from car accident lawyers at Cantor Crane regarding injuries caused by drunk drivers. DUI laws around the country have made it easier for victims of a drunk driving accidents to seek compensation they deserve. Nonetheless, there are still exceptions to who is responsible for a financial claim in such cases. Some laws hold the person who gave alcohol to an impaired driver liable for any damages that occur.

Dram Shop Laws

Dram shop laws allow liability in cases where a drunk driver received alcohol from another person. This law is named after “dram shop” establishments in the 18th century that sold spoonfuls of gin to customers. These laws make it possible for DUI victims and the families of deceased victims to sue the establishment that provided the driver with alcohol. In many of these cases, both the drunk driver and the establishment share financial liability for the accident. The District of Columbia and 43 states have some variation of dram shop laws in their state laws. Only Virginia, South Dakota, Nevada, Nebraska, Maryland, Louisiana, Kansas and Delaware do not have dram shop laws.

Dram shop laws range in severity from minor liability in obvious intoxication cases to liability only in cases where the DUI perpetrator was a minor. Nevada and South Dakota protect licensed establishment from any financial or legal liability for what their patrons do behind the wheel. In many states with dram shop laws, the actual receipt of damages is often very low.

Social Host Liability

Many states have laws that implicate those who serve alcohol at social events and within their homes. These non-traditional servers often have a responsibility for any injuries that occur if they served alcohol to minors who later caused injuries on the road. In these cases, both the minor and the person who gave him or her alcohol may be held liable for any damages that occur. Other states do not hold social hosts responsible for adult guests and only attribute liability to those who serve minors. Other states recognize liability in cases where the driver was clearly inebriated when he or she was served. General host liability laws are found in New Jersey, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Washington, Maine and Massachusetts, among others.

Common Law

In addition to specific statutes that address the liability of a host serving alcohol to someone who later got behind the wheel, there are common laws that provide recourse for injured victims. Common law holds that social hosts should not be deemed responsible for the injuries caused by their guests. However, common negligence may be an effective legal strategy when it comes to showing that a host negligently served alcohol to a minor or clearly intoxicated person. In these cases, the legal theory behind host liability is that the host could reasonably have been expected to recognize the signs of inebriation or to know that he or she was serving a minor. By serving alcohol anyway, the host acted negligently and is partially responsible for the damages that occurred.

Proving Liability

In order to hold a social host, establishment or driver responsible for the damages that occurred in your accident, it is necessary to prove specific elements of your claim. Most laws require you to show that the driver was drunk at the time he or she was served alcohol. A blood-alcohol test can be helpful in these cases as can eye witness testimony. You must also be able to show a causal link between the host’s provision of alcohol and the injuries you sustained. Finally, you must be able to show that it was reasonable for the host to believe that the guest would attempt to drive after being served alcohol.

In each of these cases, working with a Phoenix accident lawyer can help make your case stronger. From obtaining police reports, eye witness accounts and blood-alcohol test results, a personal injury attorney can help you build a stronger case for financial compensation from the at-fault driver as well as another person or establishment.  Contact Cantor Crane today at (602) 254-2701 for a free initial consultation.