In the United States, one-third of all auto accident fatalities are caused by drunk driving. The rate in Ohio is right around that national average, but a bit higher. 2014 saw more than 12K auto accidents, over 7K injuries, and more than 300 fatalities caused by drivers who had some amount of alcohol in their system. In 2016, more than 34K drivers were arrested in Ohio for driving under the influence. For the victims, there is the trauma of the collision, the expensive and life altering injuries, and the grief of loved ones who lost their lives too soon to drunk driving auto accidents. These victims can recover compensation for their damages, including the medical expenses, the lost wages, and the funeral and burial expenses of lost loved ones. Further, there may be pain and suffering damages and punitive damages in such cases.
Beyond this, there have been many legal efforts to minimize the likelihood of someone driving drunk, including Annie’s Law, passed in 2016, which requires an ignition interlock device for those who have been convicted of drunk driving, in hopes of preventing drivers from reoffending and causing harm and loss of life for others. There are also dram shop laws and social host liability in cases that involve underage drinkers.
How Dram Shop Laws Prevent Drunk Driving Accidents in Cleveland, Ohio
When a drunk driver causes injury, property damage, and even death in Cleveland, Ohio, the victims can seek compensation from the responsible driver and also see that driver held accountable in criminal court. What many don’t know is that they can also hold the business which served the alcohol accountable for their negligence in allowing a person to become so intoxicated and then allowing that intoxicated person to get behind the wheel. This is known as a dram shop law, and it is one way of tackling to problem of drunk drivers on Cleveland, Ohio roads. This motivates the businesses that serve alcohol to pay more attention to how intoxicated a customer already is and to stop serving them once they become visibly drunk. It also motivates these businesses to take steps to prevent the person from getting behind the wheel. They can call a taxi, take away the keys to the vehicle, and/or contact law enforcement if they are unable to stop a visibly intoxicated person from getting into their vehicle.
If the business that is serving the alcohol takes no steps to prevent drunk driving, and a driver causes an auto accident that results in injury or death, then the victims can seek further compensation from the business, or dram shop, that served the alcohol. This also applies to businesses who serve alcohol to individuals who are not 21 years old or over. This is especially important to prevent underage persons from being served alcohol and then ending their own lives or the lives of others by driving under the influence. However, this law does not apply to everyone who serves alcohol, such as at house parties. It only applies to those who are licensed to sell alcohol and who do so irresponsibly. Dram shop laws encourage businesses to take steps to train their employees in how to respond to a situation in which someone is obviously drunk, when to stop serving alcohol, and what to do if an intoxicated person insists on driving.
The Liability of a Social Host in a Cleveland Drunk Driving Auto Accident
Ohio law does not allow for social hosts to be held liable for drunk driving auto accidents when the offender became drunk at a social event, rather than a business (or dram shop). The only exception is found in cases where the individual was under the age of 21, and the social host served them alcohol anyway. It is therefore important for social hosts to verify the age of their guests and avoid making assumptions based on how old the person appears or says they are.
Having said that, if the social host did not know or have reason to believe that underage drinkers were present, then they may escape liability. Further, many victims of drunk driving auto accidents are not aware of the fact that they can hold others liable for the incident, whether that is a social host who served an underage drinker or a business that falls under the dram shop laws for liability. The best thing to do for anyone who has suffered an injury or loss because of a drunk driving auto accident is to contact the Chester Law Group for a free consultation. This way, you can explore your options and be aware of all potential paths towards justice and compensation. Our attorneys are happy to help you through each step of the process.
What About Drunk Driving Accidents Involving Commercial Vehicles?
Cleveland, Ohio has many commercial vehicles on the road at any given time. These individuals are trusted and expected to be extra cautious on the road, so it can come as quite an infuriating surprise to end up in an auto accident with a commercial vehicle driver who is drunk. Because these vehicles are usually very large semi-trucks, the results of such an accident can be devastating. They are more likely to cause permanent disability and loss of life. Those who are fortunate enough to survive such an incident may not feel fortunate at all as their entire lives can be changed in the space of a few moments. The pain and suffering can be tremendous, and the victims may never be able to return to the way that their lives were before the incident.
These cases are also much different from a legal standpoint, because the commercial vehicle driver is employed by a company and is held to certain standards. If the driver had a history of drunk driving, and the company did not look into this or allowed them to drive a commercial vehicle, anyway, then they may have some liability as well. You are also dealing with different insurance policies than you would with the driver of an ordinary passenger vehicle.
You definitely don’t want to attempt to pursue such a claim or lawsuit without the advice and representation of a Cleveland attorney who is experienced in drunk driving auto accidents and accidents that involve commercial vehicle drivers. Things can get quite complicated here, and you’ll want to know that you’re taking all necessary steps to thoroughly investigate the accident and recover the compensation and justice that you deserve.
Call the Chester Law Group to learn more.