New Jersey law requires bars and other establishments that serve intoxicating beverages to assume liability if they serve someone who is obviously intoxicated and that person then becomes involved in a traffic accident. A bar in Belmar recently agreed to pay $1.5 million to the estate of a young woman who was killed in an motor vehicle accident caused by a person served by the bar.
Witnesses in the bar said that the driver was visibly drunk before he and the victim left in his car. The driver admitted to having at least eight or nine drinks containing vodka and orange juice. He called his girlfriend to pick him up, but he forced himself into the driver's seat and wound up driving the vehicle. The driver's blood alcohol level after the accident was 0.207, more than twice the legal limit. After two minor collisions, his vehicle hit a curb and became airborne. When the vehicle landed on the roof of a nearby structure, the victim was ejected from the vehicle and thrown into the river. The woman was killed when she was thrown from the car, suffering blunt force head trauma and drowning.
The driver in this case pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide and is serving a 10-year sentence. The lawsuit involved the victim's survivors and the bar that served the driver.
Anyone who has suffered an injury or lost a loved one in an accident that was caused by a drunk driver may have a cause of action against the establishment that served the drinks. A consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney may answer a number of questions, including the likelihood of recovering damages.