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Drunk Driving Accidents

Third Party Liability in Drunk Driving Cases

The drunk driver may not be the only party liable for injuries to innocent parties in drunk driving accidents. Those who provided the alcohol to the driver or had the opportunity to prevent the accident also may share responsibility. An experienced personal injury lawyer can determine all of the parties who may be liable for your injuries. To have your claim evaluated by an experienced personal injury lawyer, call today to schedule a consultation.


Vendors who sell alcohol for profit and provide alcoholic beverages to noticeably intoxicated people may be liable for any resulting injuries to innocent third-parties. Vendors can be held responsible under the state's dram shop act, a local alcohol beverage control statute or based on negligence principles.


Passengers may be liable for injuries caused by drunk drivers to innocent third parties. If the passenger encouraged and actively participated in the driver's intoxication, he or she may be held liable. Also, if the passenger knows the driver is intoxicated and invites other people into the car without warning them of the driver's condition, the passenger can be held responsible for any resulting injuries to them.

Social hosts

Not all states recognize social host liability. In those that do, a social host is considered anyone without a liquor license who provides alcohol for free to guests. This can include social events, work parties and friend gatherings, for example. Liability can attach to social hosts who provide alcohol to a visibly intoxicated person or a minor. An action may be brought against a social host under negligence principles or a local alcohol beverage control statute.


Employers may be liable for injuries caused by their employees after providing them with alcohol at work parties or other social work events. Most jurisdictions reject finding employers liable under a social host theory. In the cases where liability has been found, it was because the employee caused the injury using the employer's car, while still on the employer's property or while the employee was performing services in furtherance of his or her job.

Police officers and others in a position to prevent the accident

In a limited number of jurisdictions, those who were in a position to prevent intoxicated drivers from driving and failed to do so have been found liable for any resulting injuries. This theory has most often been applied to police officers who allowed an intoxicated driver to drive home or allowed an intoxicated passenger to drive home after arresting the drunk driver. It also has been applied to people who knowingly lent their cars to a drunk driver and car dealerships that allowed a drunk person to buy and drive away in a car.

Contact a drunk driving accident attorney

When filing suit to recover damages caused by a drunk driving accident, it is important to name all potentially liable parties. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you determine who these parties are and help you build your case. Call today to schedule a consultation with a personal injury lawyer.

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