Drunk driving crashes are a tragic but common occurrence in California. Despite very clear statutes prohibiting driving with an elevated blood alcohol concentration (BAC) or when noticeably impaired by alcohol, many people still decide to drive after drinking.
Those drunk drivers sometimes cause crashes that injure or kill other people. The parties affected by drunk driving collisions have certain options for seeking compensation. For example, they could file an insurance claim using the coverage of the driver at fault for the crash. Sadly, California’s insurance requirements are a bit low.
They might also pursue a lawsuit against the drunk driver. But, when the drunk driver also dies or does not have resources or insurance sufficient to cover someone’s needs, they may need to consider other options. There are two other parties that may sometimes have responsibility for drunk driving crashes in specific scenarios.
In California, it is illegal for people to provide minors with access to alcohol or other age-restricted substances. Adults who purchase alcohol for minors or permit parties involving alcohol consumption at their homes may have liability if those minors go on to cause major collisions. Social host liability laws in California allow those affected by a drunk driving crash caused by an underage motorist to hold a social host responsible instead of taking action against the underage driver.
Businesses serving alcohol
Serving alcohol is potentially very lucrative, and businesses have to obtain a state license to lawfully dispense alcoholic beverages for people to drink. Dram shop laws create liability for companies that serve alcoholic beverages to the public. California’s dram shop law is a bit more restrictive than the laws in other states. There is only one scenario that creates liability for a company licensed to serve alcohol to the public. If a business serves someone who is under the age of 21 alcohol and that patron leaves the facility only to cause a crash, then the business may have some liability for the incident.
Depending on the circumstances leading up to a crash and the extent of the losses involved, pursuing a social host or dram shop claim could be a reasonable response to a drunk driving collision in California.