The Too-social Host : Part 2

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Q: My daughter was a passenger in a car.  Her friend failed to negotiate a sharp curve.  The car went into a ditch and down an embankment.  It flipped over onto the roof.  Her friend also passed away.  I know that, earlier that day, he had first been at the local bar and then been at a house party.

A: In this tragic kind of lawsuit, one generally sues both the bar and the host, among others.  The plaintiff alleges that alcoholic beverages caused the driver to become intoxicated and to drive in a negligent and reckless manner.  Sooner or later, the attorneys come to cite New York General Obligations Law § 11-100.  This statute governs compensation for injury or damage caused by the intoxication of a person under the age of twenty-one years.

 The house party, in particular, is likely to present a number of questions of evidence.  Who was the owner of the house?  Who was its tenant?  Was she present?  Who was the host?  Was he well known to the tenant?  Who helped with the party preparations?  Was money collected? Did anyone see the friend drink?  How close to the party did the accident occur?

In any negligence trial, the jury has to determine whether the victim had exercised due care to mitigate any injury that she would likely sustain.  Perhaps the defendants can demonstrate that non-use of an available seat belt played a part.  Then non-use is a factor which the jury may consider.

When such a tragedy occurs, then legal remedies should be pursued and cannot be disregarded.  Nevertheless, any competent attorney or other decent person has only one piece of advice, first and foremost.  “If you drink, don’t drive.”

By: Scott Baron,
Attorney at Law Advertorial

The law responds to changed conditions; exceptions and variations abound. Here, the information is general; always seek out competent counsel. This article shall not be construed as legal advice.

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