Drunk driving is one of those ugly things that can happen anywhere and everywhere, regardless of how educated the public might be to its dangers. It’s one of those accidents that can change the lives of the people involved, whether they be the intoxicated person cross-eyed behind the steering wheel, or if they’re some innocent bystander making the same left turn they make every day, oblivious to the accident that awaits them, an accident that happens through no fault of their own.
A lot happens after one of these incidents. There is the initial trauma of the accident, the shock, confusion, and mental damage that occurs following such a distressing event. While wrestling with such mental anguish, the victims of these kinds of accidents must begin to suss out what legal steps they need to take going forward, to receive the compensation they might be owed.
The damages, to both their vehicle and their bodies, can rack up very quickly, and in order to begin the legal process, these victims must begin to understand what party to go after, which party or parties are to be held responsible for the damages they’ve suffered.
If you or a loved one find yourselves the victim of an accident involving a drunk driver, getting in contact with an experienced team of Utah lawyers should be your first step. We can give you the help and support you need following such a devastating accident and can help you get your life back to normal. Also, here’s a page where you can learn more about DUI laws and penalties by state.
Is the Drunk Driver Responsible?
Plainly the obvious party to hold accountable following an accident involving a drunk driver, this should be the person that one should seek first after an accident. In making the conscious decision to operate their vehicle while intoxicated, they opened themselves to whatever consequences that life held in store for them, including the legal repercussions of an automobile accident while drunk driving. Unless the driver was under the influence of some intervening, other force, or if you the victim were in some way responsible, the intoxicated driver will almost always be the person responsible for the accident, and will most likely pay for the damages they caused.
Is the Bar, Restaurant, etc. Responsible?
It might be a common sight at the bar, restaurant, or anywhere that serves alcohol- a guy sits down, has a couple of drinks, pays his bill and with two steady feet, leaves the establishment. Presumably, to drive himself home.
It might seem a little backward, but the person or persons who served this drunk driver the alcohol that got them as intoxicated as they were during your accident might be the party or parties held responsible. If the victim so chooses, separate legal action may be taken against the establishment that served the drunk driver.
While the rules of such vary from state to state, the business that served this driver might be the ones who end up paying for the damages you suffered. This is especially the case if the drinking establishment was found to have continued serving this person after they were clearly and visibly intoxicated. If there are witnesses to attest to this, that witnessed the drunk driver continue to be served after they were already stumbling and slurring, that establishment may have a whole slew of legal snares awaiting them. The consequences will be even worse for the establishment if the drunk driver turns out to be a minor, one who was served alcohol to the point of being obviously intoxicated and then allowed to drive themselves home.
Businesses’ legal liability in this situation falls under dram shop laws. Dram shop laws exist in many of the states in America and are laws that dictate that if an establishment serves alcohol to someone already well beyond intoxicated, they are strictly liable for any damages that occur following an accident involving that driver.
Is the Party Host Responsible?
Even if they weren’t the ones drunk and operating the vehicle that hit yours, the person or persons found guilty of serving the drunk driver alcohol and then let them drive home may very well be found responsible for the accident. Again, this rule varies depending on the state that the accident occurred in, but it is not a rule that absolves the drunk driver of any of their responsibility in your accident. While the party that served them may find themselves facing legal consequences of their own, the drunk driver is not let off the hook by a long shot.
Once again, if this party host is also found to have served a minor who ended up getting in a car accident, the legal woes these party hosts find themselves in will only multiply.
Is the Drunk Driver’s Employer Responsible?
Again, while they may not have been the ones to actually cause the accident that caused you damages, the drunk driver’s employer may find themselves legally responsible for any accident that involves their employees.
This is a much less common set of circumstances, ones that depend on the nature of the drunk driver’s work. If the drunk driver was a steadfast employee, their boss or bosses may be found responsible for the damages you sustained.
Can Multiple Parties be Held Responsible?
If you end up in a car accident due to the actions of multiple parties, then all involved can be held legally liable. If someone hosting a party serves alcohol to someone clearly intoxicated, who then ends up crashing into your car due to how drunk they are, then both the party host and the drunk driver can be held responsible for paying for the damages you suffered as a result of the accident.
While this kind of situation would involve the victim filing multiple personal injury claims, it is a legal option that you should take if you find yourself the victim of multiple party’s negligence.
Getting the Legal Help You Deserve in Salt Lake City
Suffering an accident due to the carelessness of a drunk driver is unfair, plain and simple. If you were just a person obeying the law and living your life as you always do, only to then suffer an accident at the hand of someone operating a vehicle while intoxicated, get in touch with Utah’s Siegfried & Jensen as soon as you can. With years of experience handling cases just like yours, we can get you the legal guidance you need in receiving the compensation you are owed after such a traumatic accident.
Content checked by personal injury attorney Todd Bradford. I worked for a small law firm in Utah County, where I handled various types of cases. My main focus was personal injury and I decided that is what I enjoyed doing the most. I rejoined Siegfried and Jensen in 2012 where my focus is solely on helping personal injury clients. I take pride in helping personal injury clients and enjoy serving them. If you need an attorney for auto accidents or injuries of any kind in Salt Lake City, UT, Ogden, UT, Spokane, WA, or Boise, ID, contact us.