Who Is Held Accountable for Operating Under the Influence Injuries Under Massachusetts Case Law?

With the holiday season upon workers and residents of Massachusetts, it is important to remember to stay safe when traveling to and from festivities during the holidays. Several establishments and events serve alcohol, and other drivers may become reckless by driving while intoxicated or become distracted by texting others, which are both prohibited under Massachusetts law. While it may be easy to determine that the driver of the other car should be held accountable for your injuries, it may become apparent and necessary that other people or entities should be held responsible as well.

In a civil action, the injured person, or plaintiff, must show the defendant, or the party alleged to have caused the injury, had a duty toward him or her. If a person violates this duty, and this causes an injury, he or she is responsible for damages under Massachusetts civil law. If there is no duty or link between the accident and the injury, liability does not exist. Examples of duties toward others can be found in Massachusetts statutory law. A driver has a duty to others on the roads or sidewalks to operate his or her vehicle safely. Businesses that sell or serve alcoholic beverages have a duty, known as Dram Shop Liability (Massachusetts General Laws Ch. 138, Sec. 69), to stop or abstain from serving alcohol to an intoxicated person. Likewise, a host is responsible under Social Host Liability laws (Massachusetts General Laws Ch. 138, Sec. 34) to refrain from providing an underage or intoxicated person with alcohol. Both commercial establishments and private hosts must remain vigilant about how much alcohol is being served and to whom it is served.

These statutes and case law have created a duty amongst those who provide alcohol to others who then cause an injury to someone else. Bartenders, restaurant owners, and private hosts are individuals or agents of businesses who can be held liable for personal injuries or wrongful death caused by liquor served or provided to the injury-causing person. The usual example is a drunk driver who was served while intoxicated by a waiter or bartender. In this example, you have the liability of the drunk driver for his or her negligence, and you also have the negligence of the waiter or bartender and possibly his or her employer for serving the alcohol. In this case, the liability expands beyond the driver to additional people or entities, who may be required to share in the payment of economic damages like medical bills and lost wages, in addition to other damages.

If you have been injured by an intoxicated person in any type of accident, contact the Massachusetts personal injury attorneys at the Law Office of James K. Meehan. We have attorneys and staff dedicated to fully investigating and litigating your personal injury claim. Preserving evidence and recording witness statements as soon as possible after the accident can help maximize recovery, so contact our office today. For a free, confidential consultation, call 508-822-6600.

More Blog Posts:

Massachusetts Superior Court Finds Deceased Patient’s Estate Provided Enough Proof of Medical Malpractice, Massachusetts Injury Lawyers Blog, October 28, 2014
What Happens In a Massachusetts Car Accident Case that Involves an Out-of-State Policy? Massachusetts Injury Lawyers Blog, October 21, 2014