I Have Just Been Hit by a Drunk Driver, and I Am Seriously Injured, What Can I do?
If you are seriously injured in an accident involving a drunk driver, you will likely have a claim against the drunk driver and be able to recover damages from his/her insurance company. If the drunk driver’s insurance is insufficient to cover your injuries and damages or they do not have valid insurance at the time of the collision, you have the ability to make a claim with your own insurance company under your Underinsured or Uninsured Motorist Coverage.
Dram Shop Claim:
The irresponsible driver who gets behind the wheel of a motor vehicle when intoxicated often has limited insurance coverage, or no insurance at all. Some very serious accidents involve repeat drunk drivers, who may be driving despite a suspended license. If the injuries from the accident with the drunk driver are severe, or even fatal, you may find that the automobile insurance available is grossly inadequate to compensate you for your losses. In these circumstances, you may also have the ability to make a claim against the establishment (bar, restaurant, club, even private events) who served alcoholic beverages to the drunk driver, if it can be established that the drunk driver was over-served (served while apparently intoxicated). This is known as a Dram Shop claim, which can be challenging to prove, since it requires the investigation of the events leading up the accident (interviews with bar patrons, employees, friends of the drunk driver, etc.). My office, however, has experience investigating and pursuing these types of claims and we can help you pursue such a claim under the right circumstances. Such claims are not limited to car accidents, and can extend to other types of injuries under certain circumstances. For a free initial consultation and case evaluation with an experienced Seattle dram shop claim attorney who handles personal injury claims in the greater Seattle area caused by a drunk driver or an intoxicated person who was over-served, please contact me.
When a commercial establishment or provider is granted a liquor license in Washington State to serve alcohol, they are required to do so in a responsible manner and subject to the guidelines mandated by the Washington State Liquor Control Board. The reasoning behind the Dram Shop Act is to discourage those who are serving alcoholic beverages from serving alcoholic beverages to apparently intoxicated individuals, because these people may inflict serious injury on themselves or others. The same liability can attach to social hosts or banquets (for example, holiday parties, or parties at private residences) under certain circumstances where alcohol is furnished and special provisions apply to situations where alcohol was served to a minor. For a free initial consultation and case evaluation with an experienced attorney in Seattle who handles personal injury claims in the greater Seattle area caused by a drunk driver or an intoxicated person who was over-served, please contact me.
Under Washington common law, a commercial retail business furnishing alcoholic beverages owes a duty not to furnish intoxicating liquor to a person who is obviously intoxicated.
This is further codified in RCW 66.44.200, which provides that “[n]o person shall sell any liquor to any person apparently under the influence of liquor.” And by provisions in the Washington Administrative Code governing the retail services of alcohol. WAC 314-16-150. Business that serve alcohol are also required by statute to make certain that its bartenders and servers had attended and successfully completed state-mandated training and were certified as trained. RCW 66.20.310.
If you or a loved one have been seriously injured by a drunk driver, and it can be proven that the drunk driver was over served at a commercial establishment such as a bar, pub or restaurant, there may be a claim against the bar, pub or restaurant in addition to the direct claim against the drunk driver. This is especially important in the event of claims involving serious injury or death, as drunk drivers often has inadequate or no insurance, and the injured party or estate may have little recourse against the drunk driver. In order to establish a possible claim under the Dram Shop Act it is essential that the facts of the accident and the events leading up to it are investigated immediately. With the help of an experienced Seattle dram shop claim attorney, you can quickly determine whether there might be additional insurance proceeds available for the claim. Please feel free to contact me for a free initial consultation if you or a loved one was seriously injured by a drunk driver.