July 4th is great day to spend with family and friends. It is a great time to go a ballgame or a cookout. For many, this amounts to an entire day of drinking alcohol. While there is nothing wrong with kicking back and relaxing on our nation’s birthday, getting behind the wheel after consuming alcohol can lead to major problems.
As Asheville car accident lawyers understand, alcohol-related traffic accidents can lead to serious personal injury and loss of life. As reported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), during the July 4th holiday period in the past five years, nearly 800 people lost their lives in crashes in which the driver exhibited a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) greater that the legal limit of .08. This accounts for approximately 40% of all traffic fatalities over the same five-year period.
There are several things you can do to help prevent drunk driving related injuries this Fourth of July. The first and easiest way you can help is to not get behind the wheel of a vehicle after consuming alcohol. While it is true that you can drink a little alcohol and still be below the legal limit, why take the chance? It is better to be safe and use a designated driver.
The second thing you can do is to stop friends and family members from getting behind the wheel after drinking.
This is especially important if you are the host of the cookout or other event at which people are drinking. If you serve alcohol to a person who is already intoxicated and let them drive, you may be liable for any harm or injury they cause. This is an area of personal injury law known as social host liability and such “dram shop” legislation is controlled by the North Carolina General Statutes.
This concept of social host liability is in an extension of the traditional law of negligence in personal injury cases. In order to be liable for the injuries of another, the defendant must have owed a duty of care to prevent harm to that person and have breached that duty of care.
In general, you owe a duty of care to prevent foreseeable injury to foreseeable persons and property. If you get the behind the wheel of a car while drunk and hit another driver on the road, it is foreseeable that your actions could have caused that result. In the case of social host liability, the state legislature is saying that it if you serve a person alcohol to a point of intoxication and then let that person drive away from your premises, it may be foreseeable that they will injure another person or cause property damage.
This does not mean that the driver of the vehicle is not also negligent. It means that the person or establishment that served alcohol to the driver may also be liable for the injuries. This is significant because the host of a party or owner of a restaurant or bar may have more money or insurance than the drunk driver and a plaintiff may make them a defendant in the lawsuit for that reason.
Contact the North Carolina injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices by calling 800-887-1965.
More Blog Entries:
Third-Party Liability in South Carolina DUI Cases, Jan. 27, 2014, South Carolina Car Accident Lawyers Blog