An Oregon man has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against both the driver that hit him and his father as they crossed the street on foot, as well as the bar that served the driver alcohol on that night. The father was killed after being struck, landing on the roof, then being thrown off the roof a mile down the road. The son survived after medical treatment including surgery.
While the accident was initially hit and run, law enforcement was able to track down the driver. The driver pled guilty and received an eight year sentence. The lawsuit alleges that the driver was negligent in controlling her vehicle and that the bar where she was drinking was negligent in serving her alcohol while she was visibly intoxicated.
Dram Shop Laws
Most states have dram shop laws, which hold bars and other establishments that serve alcohol liable if they serve someone who later causes an injury to another because they were intoxicated. To prevail, generally a plaintiff will need to show that the establishment continued to serve alcohol to the driver after they were visibly intoxicated, and that the injury was reasonably foreseeable.
The dram shop or social host liability laws vary from state to state. In Oregon, there are several nuances to their dram shop laws. One particular nuance, is that the establishment must be provided notice of the claim within a particular time-period, which is shorter than the usual statute of limitations for a wrongful death or personal injury claim.
Wrongful Death Claims
Wrongful death claims can be brought by a person’s estate on behalf of their survivors or heirs, or by the survivors themselves. Generally, the types of damages available to the party bringing the lawsuit may differ. For instance, a wife that loses a husband may be able to recover economic damages for the loss of financial resources her husband brought to the marriage. Alternatively, a parent or adult child may not be able to recover for that type of economic harm.