You’re driving home one night when another car runs a red light and hits you broadside. When you awaken at the hospital, you learn that police found the driver’s blood alcohol content to be twice the legal limit. There is no question of the drunk driver’s liability, but, unfortunately, he has only the statutory minimum level of insurance.  Even when you add in your own uninsured driver protection, the amount of coverage cannot possibly pay for all the damage you’ve suffered. Is there anything you can do?

Many states have laws that hold alcohol vendors and social hosts liable for serving alcohol to intoxicated persons. If those customers or guests subsequently cause a vehicle accident, the vendor or host is liable. But is that the law in California?

  • Social host liability — In California, social hosts are not liable for serving alcohol to intoxicated adults or minors. However, in Faiez Ennabe, et al. v. Carlos Manosa, et al., the California Supreme Court ruled that a social host can be liable for the drunken actions of a minor if the host sold the alcohol to the minor.
  • Vendor liability — In California, bars and restaurants are not liable for serving alcohol to intoxicated adults, but they do face liability for selling alcohol to obviously intoxicated minors.
  • Employer liability — An appellate court decision in the 2013 case Purton v. Marriott International Inc. held that an employer may face liability for the actions of an intoxicated employee who got drunk at a company-sponsored event where the employer served alcohol.

Under these rules, you cannot sue anyone for providing the alcohol unless the drunk driver was underage and paid for the drink or was an employee driving home from a booze-fueled holiday party. So, in our scenario, unless the drunk driver has significant assets, like a home or business, you may be out of luck. You could go to court and get a multimillion-dollar judgment, but unfortunately, a judgment isn’t worth much if you have no way to collect.

Don’t let a drunk driving accident ruin your life. Talk to an experienced vehicle accident attorney at the Law Offices of Larry H. Parker. Call 800-333-0000 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation in Long Beach, Los Angeles, Riverside, Orange County, Bakersfield, Fresno, Phoenix, or Tucson.