Recently, a 48-year old Worcester man was killed in car accident. The auto accident occurred when a drunk driver in a car slammed into a pickup truck driven by the 48-year old victim. As both vehicles approached an intersection, the car struck the pickup truck on the driver’s side, causing the truck to flip. The driver of the car, who is intensive care at a local hospital with serious head injuries, faces multiple charges, including motor vehicle homicide and drunken driving, speeding and driving to endanger.

A drunk driver who causes injury or death can face civil consequences in additional to the criminal charges they already face. Surviving family members of the victim can also pursue a wrongful death action for the loss of the loved one against the drunk driver in some cases.

Typically, the party bringing the lawsuit against the drunk driver will be required to establish the intoxication level of the defendant, prove that the same was too high for safe operation of a vehicle and that the defendant failed to exercise reasonable care for the public’s safety. Evidence that will be used to establish these facts includes police reports, witness statements or reports and expert opinions.

In states that have Dram Shop Acts, the proprietor of an establishment where the drunk driver was served alcohol may also sometimes be sued for recovery of damages. Massachusetts is one state that has a Dram Shop Act for recovery in some situations against the owner of a tavern who serves liquor to a driver that later injures or kills another party.

Various forms of civil relief may be available to those injured in a drunk driving accident or to the loved ones of a victim killed by a drunk driver. Unlike the criminal system, this process can compensate victims for medical expenses, pain and suffering or loss of a loved one.

Source: Worcester Telegram & Gazette, “Police: Drunk driver slammed into pickup,” Scott J. Croteau, Oct. 16, 2012.