Traffic accidents are the leading cause of death from accidental injuries in the United States and the greatest single cause of all deaths between the ages of 1 and 34. Approximately one third of all traffic related deaths in the last two years were caused by alcohol-impaired drivers. While many survive alcohol related traffic accidents, they can cause catastrophic, life altering injuries and survival does not ensure a return to pre-accident health. Recovery for injuries can be crucial to the survivor’s future and can contribute to his or her overall ability to return to a pre-accident level of functioning. The early identification of all parties exposed to liability, as well as the identification of all potential defenses is essential to the ultimate recovery in any case.
In certain circumstances, liability for injuries caused by an intoxicated driver can extend beyond the intoxicated driver, to the establishment(s) that served him or her alcohol. In New Jersey, it is illegal for a licensed beverage server to serve alcohol to minors or visibly intoxicated persons. Like many states, New Jersey imposes liability on bars for serving minors who subsequently injure themselves or others. This allows minors to sue a drinking establishment for their own injuries sustained while intoxicated. It also allows others that were injured by the intoxicated minor to sue the drinking establishment that served the minor.
In contrast to an injured minor, an injured adult is not permitted to sue for injuries sustained while operating a motor vehicle if his or her blood alcohol level is found to be above the legal limit, regardless of fault. For example, if an intoxicated person is stopped at a red light and is rear ended by a distracted driver, the intoxicated person cannot sue the distracted driver for his injuries even though the intoxicated driver did not contribute to the collision.
If you or a family member is injured in an alcohol related traffic accident, early identification of all culpable parties is essential. Contact us to determine how to maximize your potential recovery.