The sentencing of a Connecticut man who caused a fatal accident while driving drunk concludes his criminal trial. But this is not necessarily the end of all the court cases against him. Following a drunk driving accident, multiple civil cases may also be brought against the driver and the bar that served the alcohol.
A Superior Court Judge recently sentenced the Connecticut man to up to 18 years in jail following his guilty plea to vehicular homicide. The severity of the sentence related to the fact that this was the man’s seventh drunk driving charge.
The February 2012 accident along route 7 in Sheffield killed a young woman and left her passenger seriously injured. While weaving out of his northbound lane, the drunken man stuck the woman’s car head-on. His truck landed on top of her vehicle. The man tried to leave the scene, but bystanders kept him from fleeing.
In addition to the criminal case, a civil case holds the drunk driver responsible for his or her negligent actions. The victim can sue the impaired driver for medical expenses, lost wages and suffering caused by the accident. When there are catastrophic injuries, however, available insurance may not cover all medical expenses.
HOW FAR DOES CIVIL LIABILITY EXTEND?
In some cases, liability may also extend to a bar. A victim may have a claim against the establishment that served the alcohol in certain circumstances.
The Connecticut Dram Shop Act holds bars or liquor shops responsible for injuries caused when they sell or furnish alcohol to an intoxicated person. In order to bring a successful claim, the victim must prove there was:
- A sale of alcohol;
- To a person intoxicated;
- Who later injures another person or property because of the intoxication.
If the driver had drinks at several bars, there could be questions about when he became intoxicated. Often a case will require some evidence that the person showed signs of intoxication. A jury generally decides whether a bar violated the Dram Shop Act. Connecticut law limits recovery against an establishment that sells liquor to $250,000 per accident.
WHAT TO DO WHEN INJURED BY AN IMPAIRED DRIVER
Following an accident, you may not know the cause. If the other driver acts strangely or you detect the odor of alcohol contact law enforcement. A police report documenting the demeanor of the driver is often helpful. When there are serious injuries, the local police will often conduct an investigation into what caused the accident and bring criminal charges.
Contact an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible after an accident. A dram shop case requires notifying the bar and filing a lawsuit within a certain amount of time. If you miss the deadline, you may not be able to bring your case.