The widow of a Tennessee man who was killed in a May motorcycle crash has filed a $7 million wrongful death lawsuit against a suspected drunk driver, as well as the owner of the BMW convertible he was driving and a local bar where he was served before the crash.
She is one of many family members filing wrongful death suits each year to hold accountable irresponsible drivers who get behind the wheel while under the influence of alcohol and the establishments that allow inebriated customers to drive.
In the case of the 60-year-old Tennessee man, he had just attended his daughter's high school graduation before he was killed. The 33-year-old man who hit him was a regular at a local night club. The club owner said his staff is trained to make sure all customers are safe to drive before leaving, but the 33-year-old “might have snuck out of the bar when employees thought he was in the bathroom.” The driver faces charges of vehicular homicide, driving under the influence, possession of cocaine, leaving the scene of an accident and failure to render aid.
Just last month a judge in Montana awarded a family $4.6 million in a lawsuit against a bar that allowed an underage patron to drink and drive resulting in the 2013 hit-and-run death of their 27-year-old son.
The Stillwater County judge ruled the bar was responsible for the man's death because the bartenders did not verify the age of the under-aged drinker. Even though the now 23-year-old was implicated as the driver in the civil case, a charge of negligent homicide against him was dismissed because no one could prove he was behind the wheel of his car at the time the man was struck. Video surveillance showed the man's car speeding through town and the victim's DNA was found on the car's undercarriage, however, there were no eyewitnesses who saw the actual impact.
Other wrongful death lawsuits filed in recent months over cases of impaired driving include:
- The Illinois family of a victim who filed their suit even before the suspect was charged with aggravated DUI. A 54-year-old chiropractor was hit when she stopped for a red light at about 11 p.m. and the suspected drunk driver slammed into her car in May. The victim was pronounced dead at the hospital. Blood tests showed the suspect had drugs and alcohol in his system. In addition to aggravated DUI, the driver faces reckless homicide, improper overtaking causing death, and unlawful possession of a controlled substance, all felonies; and misdemeanor charges of possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia.
- A lawsuit was filed against a Houston police officer in August who was off-duty when he left a strip club, swerved into oncoming traffic and killed a 36-year-old man in an alleged drunk driving accident. The officer was charged with intoxication manslaughter.
- The families of two Alabama girls filed wrongful-death lawsuits in state and federal courts in June after a former NASA astronaut was charged with reckless murder for a suspected DUI-related crash. Two other people also were injured.
If you have been injured or a loved one killed because of an irresponsible driver, you may be entitled to compensation, despite the recent Arizona ruling. Call the offices of trial attorneys Charles Gilman and Briggs Bedigian at 800-529-6162 or contact them online. The firm handles cases in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C.