What Drunk Driving Accident Victims Need to Know?
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) calls them sobering facts. At least one in three fatal car crashes are drunk driving accidents. That number does not take into account those hurt as a result of impaired drivers. Many suffer catastrophic injuries.
Accountability. Is there proof that the individual driving the vehicle was driving while under the influence? More than likely, the police will have called for blood alcohol content (BAC) testing. Were the levels in excess of the legal limits? Where did the driver become intoxicated? These are all questions that will be reviewed by an experienced personal injury attorney.
Dram Shop and Social Host Liability
Obviously, the first party who bears responsibility for a drunk driving accident is the impaired motor vehicle operator. However, what if someone continued to serve alcohol to a noticeably intoxicated person? Could they share some culpability? The answer is yes.
Under New Jersey law, a drunk driving accident victim may pursue a civil case against a “licensed alcohol beverage server” who negligently served alcohol to someone who has already had too much to drink. This type of lawsuit is known as a dram shop case. In short, establishments are expected to refuse to serve alcohol to anyone who is visibly intoxicated.
To prove a dram shop case, the following are considered:
Evidence that the driver who caused the accident was intoxicated
Identity of the establishment that served alcohol to the driver
Proof that the driver was visibly intoxicated when the bar or restaurant continued to serve the vehicle operator
Confirmation that the driver was under age 21 and served alcohol
Evidence that the negligent service of alcohol was a proximate cause of the accident leading to the injuries
Proof that the injury was a foreseeable consequence of the negligent service of alcohol
NJSA 2A:15-5.6 is the section of the law that deals with the liability of social hosts when serving alcohol. Someone who hosts a holiday party in their home would fall in this category. The same would be true if alcohol is served at an office get together. Social hosts could be found responsible if their guest caused injury to a third party in the following circumstances:
They willingly and knowingly served alcohol to a visibly intoxicated person in their presence, or
They willingly and knowingly served alcoholic beverages to a visibly intoxicated person under circumstances manifesting reckless disregard of the consequences as affecting the life or property of another; and
They willingly and knowingly served alcohol to the visibly intoxicated person under circumstances which created an unreasonable risk of foreseeable harm to the life or property of another, and the social host failed to exercise reasonable care and diligence to avoid the foreseeable risk; and
Injuries occurred as a resulted of the intoxicated driver’s failure to operate their vehicle properly.
Were you or a loved one in an accident with a drunk driver? The Law Offices of Beninato & Matrafaljo has decades of experience handling accident cases. We have the resources to thoroughly investigate your case. Call us to set up a meeting to see how we can assist you.