A fun time can turn tragic for others when a bar over serves a patron. The same is true when a privately held social event involves alcohol and minors. Consuming alcohol and choosing to drink and drive is a bad, and sometimes deadly, combination. A drunk driving accident lawyer can review the details of your accident and resulting damages to identify all liable parties. They could then proceed with civil action in the form of a drunk driving accident or wrongful death claim and lawsuit on your behalf.
Understanding Dram Shop Laws
Several states have what are known as dram shop laws. The laws target commercial establishments such as restaurants and bars that serve alcohol. Bartenders and servers have a responsibility to monitor the drunkenness of patrons who consume alcohol at their establishments.
The laws get their name from the 18th century British method of measuring alcohol. Taverns and bars served a dram of alcohol to patrons—which measured out to about approximately 3/4 of a teaspoon.
California’s dram law, however, specifically addresses underage drinking and does not involve liability for establishments that over serve adults. A drunk driving accident lawyer can help you understand the state’s dram shop laws and whether you can impose liability on an establishment for your accident injuries.
Social Hosts and Underage Drinking
Social hosts also face potential liability for serving alcohol to minors. Any parent, guardian, or another adult who furnishes an alcoholic beverage to a person they know—or should know—is under the age of 21 can be liable for an accident with injuries that result.
Examples of events that typically involve alcohol and underage guests include:
- Neighborhood cookouts
- Graduation celebrations
- Birthday parties
These are just a few examples of how a fun time can turn tragic when an underage guest leaves drunk. Drivers of all ages have a responsibility to obey the law. Teen drivers are vulnerable to making poor decisions due to a desire to impress friends or to inexperience behind the wheel.
If you suffered serious injuries due to a drunk teen driver who was over-served at a private event, you may want to contact a lawyer now. The more time that passes since the event, the more difficult it may become to locate witnesses and evidence.
Drunk Driving Injuries
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that impaired driving begins with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level of .02 percent. While the legal limit is .08 percent, drivers can experience reduced vision and other impairments before reaching the legal limit.
The injuries you suffered are most likely life-changing. You may face a long recovery or have a catastrophic and permanent injury.
Among the more common types of accident injuries in drunk driving crashes are:
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI): The brain is one of the body’s most important organs. When it experiences a bump or blow, the injury disrupts normal brain function. Relearning basic skills is necessary for many patients, along with changes in behavior and emotions.
- Spinal cord injury: Consistent communication between the brain and the spinal cord can become disrupted in a car accident. This impacts the body’s ability to experience movement and sensation. A spinal cord injury results in costs such as home modifications, power chairs for mobility, and chair accessible transportation.
- Internal injuries: Internal bleeding is dangerous and potentially deadly. Medical imaging is the only way to detect such an injury.
- Broken bones: A collision with a drunk driver can result in more than a broken arm. The type of break in your bones can greatly affect your mobility, result in tremendous pain, and require extensive physical therapy.
An intoxicated teen is easy to spot. Bloodshot eyes, difficulty walking, and other clues are generally visible to those around the teen. An establishment or social host who knowingly serves alcohol to a teen and allows them to drive drunk can face liability.
Dram shop laws are complex and challenging. Recovering from your injuries or adjusting to a new life is exhausting and stressful. A drunk driving accident lawyer familiar with dram shop law could assist you with legal action. Those responsible for serving the teen must face accountability for their actions and your damages.
Why You Need a Lawyer
Contacting a drunk driving accident lawyer may not be at the top of your priority list, but it should be. One of the key reasons for seeking legal representation as soon as possible is the pressure you will face from insurance companies.
An aggressive insurance adjuster may pressure you to accept a settlement soon after the accident. When dealing with serious injuries, you’re in no position to make such an important decision alone. Insurance companies know this and typically approach accident victims when they are most vulnerable.
Accepting a settlement offer now can affect your life later. A drunk driving accident lawyer can review the offer and negotiate for a better settlement on your behalf. Signing or accepting any offer without legal guidance places you at risk of waiving further legal options. You cannot pursue another claim or file a lawsuit once you accept a settlement.
Having someone on your side during this time of uncertainty can be crucial for your peace of mind. It is nearly impossible to manage your civil case alone as you deal with doctors, procedures, and treatments.
A serious injury can prevent you from working, resulting in a loss of income and financial stress. No matter how tempting a settlement offer may appear, give careful thought to contacting a drunk driving accident attorney before signing any insurance documents.
Compensation for Your Drunk Driving Accident Damages
The damages you experience from a drunk driving accident can be extensive.
A drunk driving accident lawyer could fight for the following types of compensation:
- Medical bills for transport to a hospital or trauma center and all related fees for care
- Ongoing medical expenses related to recovery efforts, including rehabilitation and therapies
- Lost wages due to the recovery period and inability to work
- Loss of future earnings if the injuries prevent returning to work
- Pain and suffering
Pursuing these types of damages is your right when you suffer harm due to a drunk driver. It does not matter if the teen responsible for your accident faces criminal charges. You may still pursue civil action against them and possibly against those who served the underage teen alcohol.
Teen Drunk Drivers and Fatal Accidents
The shocking news of a loved one’s death in a car accident forever changes your world. The grief you feel can turn your world upside down. You may feel confused about what to do next and worried about how to pay your bills.
A fatal accident caused by a drunk teen demands answers. A drunk driving accident lawyer can investigate to learn how and where the teen received the alcohol. They can then identify all liable parties and proceed with a civil action against them.
If a teen is responsible for your loved one’s death, you may want to discuss your case with an attorney. You may qualify to pursue a wrongful death claim and lawsuit.
The types of compensation possible in wrongful death cases include:
- Final medical expenses for the loved one
- Funeral costs
- Lost income and future earning potential
- Loss of companionship
The death of your loved one leaves a void that no amount of money can fill. Compensation can ease your financial stress during your time of mourning. A wrongful death lawyer works with grieving family members in a way that is compassionate and caring.
Contact a wrongful death lawyer for a free case evaluation. Exploring your options for possible compensation and justice can help you determine your next steps.
Gather Your Evidence
Restaurant receipts, party photographs, and other types of evidence can help your case. Your lawyer will use the evidence to support your claim.
Witnesses of both the crash and those who observed the teen drinking in a restaurant or at a private party are also important. Contact information for eye-witnesses is valuable to your lawyer, who may want to interview them.
Accident scene photographs and a copy of the official police report are also key types of evidence for your case. If your injuries—or your grief—prevent you from gathering evidence, a drunk driving accident lawyer can investigate and locate evidence for your case.
You can help your case by using caution when discussing it with others. Posting pictures and details on social media may serve as a fast way to inform friends and family; however, an insurance company may use your post against you.
Consistent communication with your attorney and an abundance of caution with the information you share can only help your pursuit of justice.
Consider Hiring a Lawyer Now
The urgency in hiring a lawyer is due to the statute of limitations for civil cases. Your case must reach the court on time or you lose your chance for compensation forever.
The compensation clock begins to tick the moment you suffer your injuries or lose your loved one. Time passes quickly when you experience a traumatic event. Do not miss your opportunity for possible compensation.
If the fear of legal fees prevents you from contacting a lawyer, consider this: most drunk driving accident and wrongful death lawyers work on a contingency-fee basis. Their attorney’s fee is contingent upon the outcome of your case. If they secure compensation for you, they collect their attorney’s fee as a percentage of the award they secure. If they do not win, they do not collect that fee.
This type of fee agreement makes obtaining legal help easier than most accident victims realize. Civil law differs from criminal law as drunk driving accident lawyers serve accident victims who suffer harm due to negligence. Criminal law serves to punish those who break the law and does not involve proper compensation for victims.
Alcohol and Responsibility for Your Accident Injuries
A serious car accident forever impacts your quality of life. In the event of death, the loss of your loved one is something from which you may never fully recover.
The teen years are ones of wanting to fit in and to appear cool to others. When alcohol is present, far too many teens indulge illegally. The results when they get behind the wheel are generally tragic and sometimes deadly.
Educating teens about the dangers of drinking and driving must continue. However, adults have a responsibility to obey drinking laws and refrain from serving alcohol to underage guests.
Serving teens one or two beers at a family gathering is not okay. Adults have a responsibility to keep guests safe and to not break the law by serving underage teens. Social hosts and establishments that serve alcohol and who serve minors can face liability for accidents that result.
If you suffered serious harm or lost a close loved one due to a drunk teen driver, give careful thought to contacting a lawyer. California dram shop law protects those injured by negligent hosts or establishments by allowing for civil action.
Act quickly. You have nothing to lose by reaching out to a drunk driving accident lawyer today for a free case evaluation. The sooner they receive information regarding your accident, the faster they can build your compensation case.
Your lawyer will work hard to resolve your case out of court. If necessary, they will proceed to trial. Insurance companies often dislike paying accident victims fair settlements. They may seek to protect profits by paying as little as possible. Pursue the justice you deserve and consider contacting a lawyer today.