Drunk Driving Victim Lawyer Mesa, AZ
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.
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.