“California juries are fed up with drunk drivers,” says Oakland trial lawyer Lew Van Blois. If you drink and drive and cause an accident with injuries, you will not only be forced to pay huge compensatory damages to innocent victims, you may also be socked with punitive damages that will require you to make payments the rest of your life. Punitive damages are not dischargeable in bankruptcy. Drunk drivers who cause serious injuries usually are sent to prison.
“Third parties who promote or encourage excessive drinking will be required to pay for the damages a drunk driver causes,” states attorney Van Blois. A Santa Rosa, California winery agreed to pay $3 million to settle a lawsuit brought by a man who was permanently disabled in an alcohol-related car crash. The passenger who suffered a serious brain injury sued the winery for serving beer to a 19-year-old driver at a wedding reception hosted by the winery. 7-11 later sold beer to the 19-year-old driver and paid an additional $500,000 to settle the case. The driver of the car was convicted of driving under the influence causing bodily injury and was sentenced to jail.
Van Blois represented the family of a 51 year old husband and father of 2 children who was killed when an underaged drunk driver drove the wrong way on Highway 24 near Lafayette, California. The underage female driver was given vodka and wine by a 21 year old boyfriend at the home of his parents. California Civil Code Section 1714 protects social hosts who furnish alcoholic beverages to a person and the social host can not be held legally liable for damages suffered by a third person resulting from the consumption of alcoholic beverages. However, a recent addition to this law permits a legal claim for injuries or death against an adult who knowingly furnished alcoholic beverages at his or her residence to a person known to be under 21 years of age. The 20 year old drunk female driver was sent to prison for several years. The parents of the 21 year old man who furnished alcohol to the underage driver had to pay a substantial settlement.
Oakland lawyer Lew Van Blois has a proven track record of successfully recovering significant damages from drunk drivers and third parties who served alcohol to drivers. He obtained a landmark million dollar plus jury verdict in Hayward, California against the parents of an adult son who was a known reckless driver. The parents negligently provided the car to their son after serving him wine at home. He was racing down a residential street and crashed into a Volkswagen, killing a father of two and injuring the passenger.
Recent studies in New York City have found that there has been a 25 to 35 percent reduction in alcohol-related car accidents since 2011 when Uber came to town. In California, where Uber is available, the number of alcohol-related crashes decreased by 6.5 percent for young drivers. Since ridesharing appears to be reducing drunk driving accidents, drivers should leave their car at home if they plan on drinking.