If you or a loved one has been injured by a drunk driver, the owner and driver are responsible to compensate you for your medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering. Also if a person or entity serves alcohol to a minor or visibly drunk person, they may also be responsible to pay compensation. Our firm has experience with these cases and charges no legal fees until you receive a settlement or award. Call us toll-free 24/7 or contact us online for a free consultation.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an auto accident in which you suspect alcohol may have been involved, you may want to speak with an attorney who is experienced in handling liquor liability claims.
United States drinking and driving statistics reveal some alarming patterns. Specifically, drunk drivers cause more than half of fatal auto accidents in the United States. Additionally, more than 25,000 people die in alcohol-related car accidents each year. What most people do not realize, drivers and passengers alike, is that after just one drink, your likelihood of involvement in an accident multiplies by seven.
Many states impose liability on bars, liquor stores, and other establishments for serving liquor to visibly intoxicated persons who subsequently cause death or serious injury to someone else. Some states impose Dram Shop Laws. The word “dram” is the unit of liquid measurement used to serve alcohol in Colonial times. Dram Shop laws hold alcoholic beverage servers financially liable for harm that visibly intoxicated individuals cause to other people, themselves, or property. The laws are established at the state level. They may also apply to social clubs, private events, or any place else where liquor is served. The laws can also prohibit selling liquor without a license, selling liquor after hours, and selling liquor to minors. Frequently a Dram Shop case arises from an automobile accident involving drunk driving.
In Rhode Island, the Dram Shop Act was repealed in 1986 and was replaced by the Liquor Liability Act. The Liquor Liability Act is in place in an effort to prevent death and injury as a result of alcohol consumption. Those liable under the Act include an alcoholic beverage retail licensee, any employee or agent of such a licensee, any person required by law to have an alcoholic beverage retail license, and any employee or agent of those persons. The Liquor Liability Act does not impose fault on social hosts.
Social host liability is an attempt to hold defendant party hosts at fault for injuries to those who have consumed liquor from the host. In 1995, Rhode Island refused to recognize social host liability. In some cases, however, liability could be imposed where there was a clear duty and no reasonable steps to protect the guest were taken.
In Massachusetts, those injured as a result of alcohol consumption have a few legal theories under which they could recover. The first is liability of a licensed establishment, where the plaintiff must prove elements like: the driver was served at the establishment where the server knew or should have known the driver was intoxicated and operation of the vehicle was reasonably foreseeable by the establishment. To be liable as a social host in Massachusetts the host must have some sort of control over the alcohol and can be liable either in their home, or for buying another individual drinks at an establishment. Other ways that parties can be at fault for alcohol consumption offenses in Massachusetts are: service to a minor, and service by a social host to a minor.
Most states’ drinking and driving laws and penalties are based on age and blood alcohol content (BAC) levels. Bearing in mind that the drinking age is 21, regulations and penalties for those under 21 who have consumed alcohol are exceedingly severe. In most places, to be charged with the crime of driving under the influence, the driver must register a 0.08 BAC. BAC is usually expressed as a percentage of alcohol in the blood; so to have a BAC of 0.08 means that 8% of a person’s blood, by volume, is alcohol.
The following are just some Dram Shop, Liquor Liability or Social Host Liability Settlements:
- In New Jersey, a jury awarded $135 million to the family of a girl paralyzed in a 1999 automobile accident caused by a drunk driver leaving a New York Giants game.
- In Texas, a bar regular was given free drinks before broadsiding a Chevy Yukon at an intersection, leaving the driver a quadriplegic and his wife and son with minor injuries. The plaintiff was awarded $3,850,000.
- In Florida, a drunk driver struck a golf cart on the way out of a country club, killing a 9-year-old girl. The plaintiff was awarded $3,200,000.
- In Alaska, teenagers died in a collision with a barricade after being sold liquor at a bar. The plaintiff was awarded $1,700,000.
Contact the Law Offices of d’Oliveira & Associates
If you have been injured in an auto accident where alcohol was involved, the Law Offices of d’Oliveira and Associates can help you receive the compensation you deserve. Give us a call for a free consultation, and remember you pay no legal fees unless a settlement is obtained on your behalf. We would be happy to meet with you at one of our fifteen locations in Rhode Island or Massachusetts.
Call d’Oliveira & Associates today at 1-800-992-6878 or fill out a contact form for a free legal consultation.