Drunk driving is a pervasive and well-known problem on U.S. roads. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a person was killed due to a drunk driving accident nearly every 50 minutes in 2016.
While much attention has been paid to keeping impaired drivers off the road and providing stricter penalties when they do get behind the wheel, there are others who may share some culpability when it comes to drunk driving accidents. Many states, including Alaska, have laws that address the role of bars and restaurants and social hosts in impaired driving crashes. These are known as dram shop and social host liability laws, and they can provide justice and compensation for those who suffer serious injuries in an accident.
What Is a Dram Shop Law?
A dram shop law holds a business liable when they give or sell alcohol to a person who then harms another person because of their intoxication. The term “dram” refers to a unit that was once used to measure an amount of alcohol. In general, Alaska law prohibits an establishment from providing alcohol to an intoxicated person.
So, if a visibly drunk bar patron is sold or given more alcohol, then leaves the bar and causes a car crash which injures others, the bar may be held liable for those injuries in a civil case.
What Is Social Host Liability?
Social host liability is similar to a dram shop law in that it allows those who serve an intoxicated person alcohol to be held accountable for the injuries and damage the impaired person causes when he leaves. While many states’ social host laws address only the serving of alcohol to minors, Alaska has comprehensive social host laws that cover guests of all ages. Typically, it must be proven that the host served the guest alcohol, knew the guest was intoxicated, and knew that he would soon operate a vehicle.
Recovery and Compensation After a Drunk Driving Accident
Victims of drunk driving accidents can sustain a wide range of injuries, including some severe injuries that impact the rest of their lives. They often must undergo hospitalization, surgery, rehabilitation, and more. They may need help to perform even simple daily tasks. It can be a difficult time for victims and their families as they recover and adjust, and the financial strain from missed work only adds to the stress.
In Alaska, victims can pursue justice and compensation that can cover their medical bills, lost wages, future medical bills and lost wages, property damage, and much more. While the evidence against the driver may be straightforward, holding other responsible parties accountable can be more difficult. To protect your rights, victims should:
- Seek medical help immediately, and follow doctor’s orders.
- Avoid speaking to an insurance company or attorney for a bar or social host without first consulting an experienced injury attorney.
- Keep any records or notes that could pertain to the accident or the state of the driver.
If you or someone you love has suffered injuries in a drunk driving accident, you may be eligible to file a legal claim to hold the responsible parties accountable. At the Law Office of Ben Crittenden, our legal team has helped many Alaska accident victims both obtain the compensation they deserve and protect that award from insurance companies, hospitals, and others who seek to take advantage of the situation. Call our Anchorage office today to speak directly with Ben and learn more about who we are, what we do, and how we may be able to help.