Some of the most deadly car crashes involve drunk drivers. Over the holidays, alcohol is often a part of the celebration. Unfortunately, a person who has overindulged sometimes gets behind the wheel and can cause a DWI accident.
Recently, following a trial, a jury awarded $1.7 million to a couple who lost their unborn child in an accident caused by a drunk driver. The 2010 accident occurred in Charlotte, North Carolina. The couple was leaving an ATM when they saw another vehicle approaching at a high speed. Before they could react, the other driver hit them.
The driver of the vehicle that hit the couple had a blood alcohol concentration three times the legal limit. He was also speeding over 100 mph. The couple brought the case against the bar that served the driver arguing that the restaurant continued to serve the driver even after staff members were aware he was intoxicated.
Dram shop liability for bars and restaurants
In North Carolina, the dram shop statute makes it unlawful for an employee or staff member at a licensed provider of alcoholic beverages for on-premises consumption - a bar or restaurant - to "knowingly sell or give alcoholic beverages to a person who is intoxicated." The dram shop statute allows those injured in a drunk driving accident to sue the business that provided the alcohol based on the following three factors:
- Did the restaurant or bar negligently sell or furnish beer, wine, liquor or another alcoholic beverage to a person visibly intoxicated?
- Did the alcoholic beverage cause the person to become impaired?
- Was the driver's impairment a proximate cause of the accident and injury?
Cases against the establishment who sold the liquor are important if an accident causes catastrophic injury or death, because the vehicle insurance policy and assets of a drunk driver may not be enough to cover the full cost of the damages. A North Carolina personal injury attorney can explain how the process works in seeking compensation from a bar or restaurant that provided the alcohol to the drunk driver.
While some argue that the dram shop laws dismiss an individual from personal liability, the laws have a clear affect on establishments and encourage responsible serving of alcoholic beverages.
A catastrophic injury caused by a drunk driver or the loss of a loved one in a drunk driving accident is heart breaking and often life altering. The assistance of an experienced personal injury attorney can ease you through the settlement and/or trial process.