In the previous blog, we discussed issues that frequently arise when our clients suffer injuries at the hands of an intoxicated motorist.  Here are a few more:

The drunk driver has limited auto insurance and no collectible assets. May I pursue a claim under my underinsured motorist coverage?  Yes! If the drunk driver was uninsured, or had insufficient liability insurance to cover your damages, then additional compensation may be sought under your uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. 

Will my auto insurance premiums increase if I make a claim under my own policy for uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage?  No.  The drunk driver caused the collision, not you, so your insurance company cannot increase your premiums if you use coverages available to you under your own insurance policy, like uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage and collision coverage.

The vehicle owner gave his keys to the drunk driver, who in turn caused a collision that injured me.  Is the vehicle owner responsible?   The vehicle owner may be liable to you under a theory of negligent entrustment. However,  the vehicle owner is responsible only for their percentage of fault in causing your injuries. Most likely the drunk driver will bear most of the liability.

The drunk driver consumed alcohol at a house party, and then caused the collision in which I was injured. Are the homeowners liable for causing my injuries? In this example, the homeowners are considered “social hosts,” for whom the Arizona legislature grants immunity from liability arising out of the furnishing of alcohol to guests at their home. However, a social host is not immune from liability if they furnish alcohol to somebody under the legal drinking age. So if Mr. and Mrs. Homeowner host a Christmas party and furnish alcohol to a 19-year-old, who then leaves their home in an intoxicated state and causes a motor vehicle collision which injures somebody, Mr. and Mrs. Homeowner may be liable for the damages suffered by the injured person.

Are restaurants or bars ever responsible for my injuries sustained in a collision caused by a drunk driver? Sometimes, based upon the facts of each case.  This is known as “dram shop” liability. Restaurants,  bars, and any licensed seller of alcohol have an obligation to serve alcohol responsibly, and to refrain from excessively serving a patron. The responsibility of the liquor licensee or social host will be compared to that of the drunk driver, with each party being responsible only for their own fault in causing your injuries.

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