Drunk and impaired drivers can be held liable for any injuries and deaths they cause. In cases where a bar, restaurant, liquor store or party host serves alcohol to a visibly intoxicated person, who later causes an injury or fatal accident, that person or establishment can also be held liable under New Jersey's dram shop law. Here, it's important to thoroughly reconstruct the events that happened prior to a drunk driving accident in order to establish a timeline of when a drunk driver started drinking, how much he or she likely had, and the time frame involved. Reviewing bar tabs, credit card purchases, security camera footage (if available) and eyewitness testimony can shed considerable light on whether or not a drunk driver was visibly intoxicated when he or she was served alcohol.
NEW JERSEY'S DRAM SHOP LAW
N.J. Rev. Stat. §2A:22A-1 et seq.
This act shall be the exclusive civil remedy for personal injury or property damage resulting from the negligent service of alcoholic beverages by a licensed alcoholic beverage server. Nothing contained herein shall be deemed to limit the criminal, quasi-criminal, or regulatory penalties which may be imposed upon a licensed alcoholic beverage server by any other statute, rule or regulation.
N.J. Rev. Stat. §2A:22A-4
a. A person who sustains personal injury or property damage as a result of the negligent service of alcoholic beverages by a licensed alcoholic beverage server may recover damages from a licensed alcoholic beverage server only if:
(1) The server is deemed negligent pursuant to subsection b. of this section; and
(2) The injury or damage was proximately caused by the negligent service of alcoholic beverages; and
(3) The injury or damage was a foreseeable consequence of the negligent service of alcoholic beverages.
b. A licensed alcoholic beverage server shall be deemed to have been negligent only when the server served a visibly intoxicated person, or served a minor, under circumstances where the server knew, or reasonably should have known, that the person served was a minor.
RECOVERING DAMAGES IN DRUNK DRIVING AND IMPAIRED ACCIDENTS
When a drinking establishment is not involved or when impairment due to drugs is the cause of an accident, recovery of damages is typically dependent on the impaired driver's insurance policy limits. In cases where serious head trauma, spinal cord injuries, amputations or fatalities are involved, losses suffered may exceed the drunk or impaired driver's insurance coverage.
Here, the injured driver can file a claim with his or her own insurer under the uninsured/underinsured terms of his or her policy. Additionally, depending on the specifics of your case, there may be other forms of insurance under which your attorney can seek to collect damages. If the drunk or impaired driver has umbrella coverage or a homeowner's policy, it may be possible to collect damages under these policies as well.
CAR ACCIDENTS CAUSED BY DRUGS
Depending on the drugs involved, driving under the influence of drugs can be as dangerous - if not more so - than driving drunk. The effects of drugs, even prescription drugs, include loss of visual acuity, mental fogginess, slowed reaction time, and sleepiness and fatigue. As with drunk drivers, those injured by a driver impaired by legal or illegal drugs can sue the driver who injured them in civil court. Here, the burden of proof will likely involve blood test results, evidence of drug abuse or use of certain prescription drugs, and eyewitness testimony.
CONTACT OUR OFFICE
We offer a free initial consultation to people in New Jersey who have a potential personal injury or wrongful death claim. To set up a meeting, contact us online or call us at 732-702-0333 for an appointment. We have offices in Freehold, Toms River and Point Pleasant.