Liability Theories for Injuries Sustained in Walnut Creek Drunk Driving Accident

5399482412_f9ec9f778b If you somehow managed to miss it, the 2014 NFL season came to an end February 1 when the New England Patriots won the Super Bowl. Many football fans – as well as some who tune in “just to watch the commercials” – watch the big game at a bar or attend Super Bowl parties at a friend’s home where, more often than not, alcohol is consumed. The California Highway Patrol’s crash data indicates there is a 77% increased chance of being involved in a serious or fatal car crash resulting from drunk driving following the Super Bowl .

If you or a loved one has been injured or killed as the result of a drunk driving accident, you probably know that you may have a personal injury or wrongful death claim against the driver of the vehicle. But many people wonder if they have a claim against the person who supplied the alcohol.

In most instances, the answer is no. While serving alcohol to an obviously intoxicated person or “habitual or common drunkard” is a misdemeanor, California law does not hold that same person liable for the injury or death of a third-party caused by a drunk driver. This means that if the bartender the local watering hole continues to serve rum and Cokes to an obviously intoxicated Bob, and Bob later kills two people and leaves a third seriously injured, the bartender faces criminal charges, but cannot be sued by either Bob or the accident victims.

However, California law does impose liability on either bartenders or a “social host” (a non-business provider of alcohol) in two circumstances:

  1. Serving Alcohol to Underage Drinker

If alcohol is served to a person under the legal drinking age, the person who served the alcohol may be required to pay damages to those injured in any subsequent accident. So in the above example, if Bob is 19, both Bob and the accident victims can sue the bartender for serving alcohol to Bob. Likewise, if Bob’s aunt serves him alcohol at a Super Bowl party, both Bob and the accident victims can sue his aunt for serving alcohol to an under aged person.

  1. Serving Alcohol at a Work Function

If alcohol is served at a work function, it is possible that the employer may be held liable for any injuries caused by the employee’s drunk driving. The California Court of Appeal for the 4th Appellate District recently ruled that employers can be responsible for damages to a third-party through the theory of vicarious responsibility. Under this theory, an employer is responsible for his employee’s actions done during the course of business. The court ruled that driving home from the company work party, where alcohol was served, was within the scope of the employee’s job, and his employer was therefore responsible for the injuries caused by his subsequent drunk driving accident.

Walnut Creek Drunk Driving Accident Attorneys 

The physical, emotional and financial effects of drunk driving accidents are devastating and often life-altering. Lost wages, medical bills, and the loss of enjoyment of life or loss of a loved one can send many families into financial ruin. If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a drunk driving accident, contact the Walnut Creek drunk driving accident attorneys at Appel Law Firm LLP. Our attorneys can talk to you about whether you may have a claim against not only the driver, but the person who served him the alcohol as well. Call 888-527-0674 today to schedule your free initial consultation.


Photo Credit: KandyKreations via Compfight cc

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