Drunk Driving Victim Lawyer Mesa, AZ
If you’ve been injured by a drunk driver, it’s important to connect with a drunk driving victim lawyer Mesa, AZ residents trust. Doing so will allow you to explore your legal options in a confidential, risk-free setting. Too often, drunk driving victims assume that the only ways in which the intoxicated drivers who injured them can be held accountable are consequences imposed by a criminal court. In reality, drunk driving victims can also hold drunk drivers accountable in civil court.
Holding a Drunk Driver Responsible in Civil Court
Criminal consequences and civil consequences are not mutually exclusive. A drunk driver can be held accountable in both criminal and civil contexts. Conversely, drunk drivers may even be held accountable for the harm they caused via a civil (personal injury) lawsuit, despite having avoided criminal consequences. For example, in the 1990s, former NFL player O.J. Simpson was acquitted of murder in a criminal court. However, families of the victims were successful in holding him responsible for the deaths of their loved ones in civil court. How is this possible? The standard of evidence and burden of proof in civil cases are different than those that govern criminal cases. Therefore, even if the drunk driver who hit you isn’t held criminally responsible for their conduct, our Mesa, AZ drunk driving victim lawyer may be able to hold them accountable for their conduct in civil court.
All personal injury suits require that three basic truths be proven. First – likely the easiest standard to prove in a drunk driving context – is that the person who harmed you owed you a “duty of care” under the law. By operating their vehicle, the driver that harmed you entered into a duty of care regarding everyone else on the road. This duty of care was to, simply put, drive safely. Second, it must be proven that the driver breached their duty. In this scenario, proving that the driver was illegally intoxicated behind the wheel is the key to meeting this standard. Finally, it must be proven that their breach directly resulted in your harm. Additionally, our Mesa, AZ drunk driving victim lawyer will work hard to prove that you didn’t cause (either at all or to any significant degree) the accident in question. Minimizing your liability will help to ensure that you receive the maximum amount of compensation to which you’re entitled.
Legal Assistance Is Available
If you haven’t yet scheduled a confidential, risk-free consultation with the Law Office of Paul Englander, PLC, please do so now. The quicker we learn about the details of your situation, the sooner we can explain your legal options and begin protecting your rights. Regardless of whether the drunk driver who hit you is being held accountable in a criminal context, it’s worth exploring if you have grounds to file a personal injury suit. If successful, you could be awarded damages that will cover your medical bills, lost wages, etc.
Responsibility of Drunk Drivers and Bars that Overserve
Drunk drivers and bars that overserve them may be responsible for serious injuries and fatalities. Arizona bars who overserve patrons can be held liable for injuries and damages resulting from their negligence. Our firm’s Mesa, AZ drunk driving victim lawyer can explain whether your situation may empower you to hold a bar, restaurant, or other corporate entity responsible for the harm you have suffered, in addition to holding the drunk driver that hit you responsible as well.
In Arizona, liquor licensees have a duty to exercise reasonable care in serving intoxicants to patrons who might later injure themselves or an innocent third party, whether on or off the premises. The negligent overserving of a patron must be the cause of injury or death. A claim against a bar for overservice may also be called a dramshop case.
In a recent Arizona trial and appellate case, Torres v JAI Dining Services, Inc., the Defendant driver consumed alcohol throughout the evening, he went to Defendant’s strip club, where he consumed more alcohol. He then went to his brother’s house and ultimately ended up at home where he went to bed. He was awakened by his girlfriend and asked to take her, who had been out with them drinking, home that morning, while traveling 86 miles per hour, he crashed into a car stopped at a red light, killing Plaintiffs’ decedents.
Plaintiffs sued and obtained a $2 million jury trial verdict against the defendant driver and the bar with 40% fault assessed against the bar. The bar appealed.
The Arizona Supreme Court stated that the drunk driver reached his own home, where he got into bed. Despite the fact the defendant bar had breached its duty of care, the absence of proximate causation relieved the bar of liability for the deaths.
If the accident had occurred while the defendant drunk driver was driving home from the bar, the result would have most certainly been held different, the bar would have been partially liable for significant wrongful death damages.
In another related Arizona appellate case, Patterson v. Thunder Pass, Inc., the tavern owner took a drunk patron’s car keys, and drove the patron home in another vehicle where he left her with her keys. She then returned to the bar with the keys, and drove her car causing an accident. The Court of Appeals found “The risk lies chiefly in the fact that person who becomes intoxicated at a commercial establishment may be unable to return to her home or other place of repose safely. When the patron has safely been transported home, the risk of her deciding to leave home and take to the roads is no different than if she had become intoxicated at home with alcohol purchased at a store in package form. The decision to leave her apartment and drive was an intervening and superseding cause that broke the chain of proximate causation.” The bar was not held responsible.
Following a crash caused by a drunk driver, a personal injury attorney can investigate fault, insurance coverage that may apply, and evaluate claims for injuries and damages. There should be no fees unless a settlement is obtained.
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