Who Can Be Held Responsible for a Drunk Driving Accident?
It’s news that no one wants to get. Learning that you lost a loved one in an accident can make you feel an array of emotions. But when you learn that the accident could have been prevented, all you feel is rage.
This is definitely the case in a drunk driving accident. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, almost 29 people in the U.S. die each day in an alcohol-impaired vehicle crash. This accounts for one person every 50 minutes in 2016. It claims more than 10,000 lives each year.
When a drunk driving accident occurs, the finger is always pointed to the drunk driver. But did you know that another party can be held responsible for the accident?
Dram Shop Laws in New Jersey
Like many states in America, New Jersey has a “dram shop” law. According to the law, you are allowed to bring a civil suit against a business that served or sold alcohol to someone who went on to cause an alcohol-related accident.
According to the law, one of the following conditions must be met:
- The individual was “visibly intoxicated” when served at the business; or
- The server either knew or reasonably should have known that the person being served was under 21
It’s important to note that the person who had caused the accident cannot bring a claim against the establishment who overserved him/her; only the victim or the victim’s family can bring a suit against the business.
Social Host Liability: What’s That?
But what if the person got drunk at a party instead of a business? What happens then?
In New Jersey, an injured person or family is allowed to seek damages from the host who provided alcohol to an intoxicated individual at either a party or a similar event. For example, you get hit by a party guest leaving a party. You’re injured. You later learn that the other driver had been drinking all night but the host allowed him to leave the party. This falls under social host liability – when a host of a party or event can be held responsible for the drunk driving accident.
Like dram shop laws, there are conditions that need to be met:
- That guest was visibly intoxicated in the presence of the host
- The injuries were a direct result of the operation of a vehicle by the intoxicated guest
- The social host had failed to prevent the guest from driving the vehicle
Proving Liability in Dram Shop Law
The key to a dram shop claim is to prove the individual was visibly intoxicated. What does that mean? According to New Jersey Statute 2A:22A-3, “visibly intoxicated” is defined as “a state of intoxication accompanied by perceptible act or series of acts which prevent clear signs of intoxication.”
We all know or even experienced signs of intoxication — the most common ones included slurred speech, stumbling or swaying, and changes of behavior. But it’s especially important for business employees to pay attention to how much they are serving a patron and make sure they have a ride home. Or else.
Contact Our Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer Today
If you were a victim of a drunk driving accident anywhere in New Jersey, we are here to help. Contact the Law Offices of Anthony Carbone now for a free consultation. We are here to help.