Recently, the estate of a 22-year-old aspiring ballerina killed in a DUI accident filed a wrongful death suit against the responsible driver and two Philadelphia bars that allegedly served him alcohol. The ballerina was originally from Bulgaria, and was a third-year student at the Rock School for Dance Education.
The wrongful death suit alleges that the two bars served the driver alcohol on his 18th birthday, causing him to drive drunk. Both establishments have denied liability for the accident. The driver allegedly ran a red light and struck the ballerina's vehicle, then took off in a hit and run. The driver is currently serving five to ten years in state prison for vehicular homicide.
Under Pennsylvania and New Jersey "dram shop" laws, bars, restaurants and nightclubs that serve alcohol to an underage or obviously intoxicated person may be held liable for any injuries or deaths that the drunk driver causes. In this case, the two bars are accused of serving a driver who was a minor. It was 18th birthday, and the legal drinking age is 21.
Wrongful death suits such as the one in this case are filed when a person is killed due to the negligence of another. They are filed by a representative of the victim's estate, typically an attorney or a family member. The goal of these lawsuits is the recovery of monetary damages to compensate family members for any lost income from the decedent's death as well as loss of companionship. Wrongful death damages are intended to hold defendants accountable for their negligence and to give the families of the victims some measure of justice and comfort.
Source: New Jersey Herald, "Estate of Philly Ballet student sues in DUI crash," August 6, 2013.