Losing a loved one to a drunk driver is something that no family should have to experience. While there are strict DUI laws in the state of Arizona, often these neglect to repair the damage done by a drunk driver when it comes to the emotional and financial loss of a loved one. Hiring a Phoenix wrongful death lawyer can help mitigate that loss.
There are hundreds of people injured and killed by drunk drivers in the state of Arizona each year.
When a family loses someone to a drunk driver because an establishment chose to continue serving a patron that was obviously too drunk to drive, Arizona’s Dram Shop Liability laws may take over.
All restaurants, bars, and saloons in Arizona are referred to as “dram shops.” Under Arizona statutes, these company owners and managers can be held liable if an intoxicated dram shop patron harms themselves or another person because of the alcohol they consumed while at the facility.
Taking Legal Action Against the Driver
Typically, the family members will work through the grieving process and not think of taking legal action against the person responsible. However, when the legal action becomes an option, family members will turn to a Phoenix wrongful death lawyer.
The most obvious course of action is to file a lawsuit against the driver. After all, the driver caused the wreck and was negligent by driving while intoxicated.
A wrongful death lawsuit can be filed against that driver, as well as their insurance company, seeking damages.
Using Dram Shop Statutes in Favor of the Plaintiff
A Phoenix wrongful death lawyer may discover that a drunk driver was served by a local dram shop before getting behind the wheel. If the driver was obviously intoxicated and the dram shop continued to serve that driver, and they did not take precautions to ensure that driver was not operating a vehicle, they may be liable under Arizona Revised Statute Section 4-311(D).
Under this statute, dram shops are held liable for serving intoxicated patrons or minors under particular circumstances:
- The facility sold liquor to a patron that was obviously intoxicated;
- The patron consumed the alcohol purchased at the dram shop;
- The alcohol was the proximate cause of the injury or wrongful death.
In the statute, “intoxicated” refers to a person that is clearly inebriated to the point where it was evident that they were impaired and too impaired to function let alone drive a vehicle.
What is Proximate Cause?
In this type of case, proximate cause discusses the relationship between the dram shop, patron, and the accident that caused the wrongful death. There must be no other intervening causes that could be a proximate cause of the victim’s death. Instead, the intoxication of the driver was the direct result of the alcohol they consumed, and the alcohol was served by the dram shop.
For example, an intoxicated person had enough time between consuming the beverages and sleeping it off in their vehicle before driving. They drove home and continued to drink alcohol. Afterward, they got back into their vehicle and caused a deadly accident. In this case, the proximate cause did not come from the alcohol served at the bar; instead, it was the alcohol the driver consumed at home.
Statute of Limitations Applies in Dram Shop Cases Too
Just like traditional wrongful death cases, dram shop cases also have a wrongful death statute of limitations. This time limit is not affected by any criminal liability, which would likely apply in a drunk driving accident that caused a fatality.
In Arizona, the statute of limitations for wrongful death claims is two years after the death or the discovery of the dram shop’s negligence; whichever comes first.
Compensation from the Dram Shop Lawsuit
Those seeking compensation from a dram shop liability suit can seek specific damages that pertain to the incident.
There are two categories of costs, which include:
- Losses Inflicted by the Death: These include funeral and/or burial expenses, medical costs, value of lost wages and health benefits associated with the deceased’s job, repair or replacement of vehicle, and pain and suffering.
- Damages Suffered by Loved Ones: These are financial damages that the loved ones will encounter because of the loss of their loved one, such as loss of household services, loss of companionship, loss of care, pain and suffering.
Only Certain Parties May File a Suit Against an Arizona Dram Shop
Arizona law limits who can file a wrongful death suit. A Phoenix wrongful death lawyer can ensure the right parties are filing the suit and qualify to seek compensation. Certain parties who are eligible include:
- The spouse of the deceased;
- Surviving children of the deceased;
- Surviving parent or guardian;
- A representative of the deceased;
- A representative of the deceased’s estate.
Consult with a Phoenix Wrongful Death Attorney
Those that have lost a loved one from a drunk driver can consult with a wrongful death attorney to explore the option of a wrongful death suit against that party or the dram shop.
Tobler Law has helped countless individuals that have suffered serious injuries or lost a family member to drunk drivers and serious accidents.
Speak with an attorney at Tobler Law today during a consultation at 480-898-9700 or request more information online.