Summer is right around the corner, and with it come warm days, long nights, and endless parties, get-togethers, and other social activities. It is only natural that when adults gather together in order to celebrate a holiday (or simply the end of a long and tiring week), alcohol may be present. While we might wish to believe that adults will behave responsibly while at social engagements, we also know this does not always happen: Sometimes individuals drink too much, or those who are not of drinking age choose to drink anyway, and these situations can get out of hand.
Social Liability for Providing Alcohol to Party Guests
Consider the following hypothetical example: Maria is 19 years old and is invited to a weekend party at the home of one of her coworkers. When Maria arrives, she recognizes several individuals from her workplace, all of whom are consuming alcohol. The party’s host sees and approaches Maria, hands her a beer, and tells her to “lighten up” and “be a part of the team.” Feeling encouraged, Maria drinks the beer, and several more beers after that. Even though Maria becomes progressively and more obviously intoxicated with each passing beer, her host continues to encourage her to stay a while longer and drink with her coworkers.
At the end of the party, Maria insists that she is sober enough to drive and gets behind the wheel. When she crashes and kills another motorist while on the way home, her breath alcohol concentration is nearly three times the legal limit of 0.08. The question is: Who is responsible for the damages suffered by the deceased motorist’s family?
Obviously, Maria would be primarily liable for her actions in getting behind the wheel of a car while she was intoxicated. However, North Dakota Centennial Code section 5-01-06.1 would permit the deceased motorist’s family to also bring a claim for compensation against the party’s host who had provided Maria with the alcohol. A person who serves another person alcohol can be held responsible for the damages caused by an intoxicated driver if:
- The intoxicated driver is under the age of 21 years;
- The intoxicated driver was obviously incompetent or under the influence at the time the person served the intoxicated driver alcohol; and
- The person either directly served the intoxicated driver alcohol or failed to exercise reasonable care in preventing the intoxicated driver from obtaining alcohol.
Contact a North Dakota and Minnesota Personal Injury Lawyer for Assistance
Determining the identity of all responsible parties who may be responsible for your or your loved one’s injuries is an essential part of helping you and your family obtain full and fair compensation. Let Timothy O’Keeffe, Tatum O’Brien or Sara Monson of O’Keeffe O’Brien Lyson Attorneys assist you in completing this crucial task and helping you obtain the compensation you need following a drunk driving crash. Contact the firm using its online contact form, or call 701-235-8000 or 877-235-8002 for prompt, compassionate assistance.
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