The family of a 20-year old Hackettstown, New Jersey woman killed in an ATV crash caused by a drunk driver has filed a wrongful death suit against both the driver and the bar that served him alcohol before the crash. The wrongful death suit alleges that the bar continued to serve the man alcohol despite visible signs of intoxication. The suit also alleges that the driver, a 24-year old man who was dating the victim, operated the ATV negligently by having a blood alcohol level more than three times New Jersey’s legal limit. The crash happened when the man lost control of an ATV after he and the victim had been drinking at the bar, causing both to be thrown from the vehicle. The woman was found near a tree and a large rock, and died from her injuries shortly thereafter. The family is seeking an unspecified amount of damages for pain and suffering.
Under “dram shop” laws, victims of alcohol-related offenses may sue the establishment or specific bartenders involved in serving alcohol to visibly intoxicated people if those people go on to commit a tortious or criminal act. These laws are enforced through civil lawsuits filed by the victims or their families. A common factor in these laws is that the person’s intoxication must be obvious to the retailer, and it must be obvious to a reasonable person that serving the person more alcohol would be harmful.
Another factor at play in this case is the issue of joint and several liability, because both the driver and the bar are named as defendants in the suit. Joint and several liability occurs where two or more defendants’ negligence causes harm to the plaintiff, and the defendants are both held liable for all of the damages regardless of their share of the liability.
Anyone who has lost a loved one to a wrongful death is entitled to seek financial compensation in the form of damages. This is to hold the defendant accountable for the negligence and to give the victims’ families a form of relief for their pain and suffering. Anyone who has experienced the wrongful death of a loved one has the right to seek justice.
Source: Lehighvalleyllive.com, “Family of 20-year-old Hackettstown woman killed in ATV crash files suit against driver, bar that served him alcohol,” Matthew Bultman, July 25, 2013.