Who is the At-Fault Party When a Drunk Driving Accident Occurs?

If you get into a car accident with a drunk driver, it may seem that assigning fault is simple: The drunk driver is at fault. This is true – but it may also be true that additional parties are at fault. This can become important if the drunk driver dies in the accident or they do not have sufficient coverage to cover your injuries.

Keep reading to learn about other parties that can potentially be found at fault, then contact The Law Offices of Larry H. Parker at 800-333-0000 if you have been involved in a car accident and need a free legal consultation from an experienced attorney.

Can a Bar or Restaurant Be Held Accountable?

In most cases, no. California law protects a vendor from being responsible for what their clients do with their product. There are very specific cases in which these laws may not apply, but they are rarely relevant. You can find out when you talk to a personal injury attorney for a free legal consultation.

Can a Social Host Be Held Accountable?

Maybe. A social host is a person who serves alcohol at their private residence. In most cases, they are not held accountable if their guests get intoxicated and cause an accident. However, there is one big exception: If the guest was a minor and they were clearly intoxicated.

Imagine that a person is holding a dinner party and knows that a person attending is not yet 21. If they see that said guest gets intoxicated, and they continue to provide alcohol to them, and that minor drivers and causes an accident, then the adult that provided the alcohol can be held accountable. In fact, they may be held accountable even if they did not know what the minor because intoxicated and / or that they were driving home. Knowingly serving a minor alcohol may be enough to make them legally liable.

The Driver Can Be Held Responsible

In the state of California, a drunk driver is considered per se at fault for any accident they are involved in. This means that the other parties do not have to prove fault – the fact that the driver drove while drunk is enough to make them at-fault.

More Than One Party Can Be Held Accountable

What happens if there is more than one party at fault? For example, if a 15-year-old got drunk and drove home from a party, but the party was hosted by a 30-year-old who served the 15-year-old alcohol? The driver and the host can be held accountable. This is done through comparative negligence in which each party is responsible to cover damages equal to their percentage of fault.

If a judge determines that the driver was 70% at fault and the adult serving alcohol was 30% at fault, then injured party could work to retrieve 70% of their damages from the driver and 30% from the adult.