Indiana Drunk Driving Wrongful Death Lawsuit Filed After Teen Dies

The parents of a teen killed in a drunk driving accident in Muncie have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the motorist accused of killing him. The negligence lawsuit comes little more than a year after the defendant was convicted of driving while intoxicated causing death and driving while intoxicated causing serious bodily injury. The 25-year-old defendant is now serving eight years in prison.

This case underscores the options drunk driving victims have to seek compensation for a serious injury or death caused by these actions. That’s because drunk driving, in addition to being a form of negligence, is also a crime. Still, the criminal trial is completely separate and apart from the civil case. There is a separate standard for the burden of proof, and the outcome of one case won’t necessarily affect the outcome of the other.

Furthermore, our Highland injury lawyers can explain Indiana’s liquor liability laws are such that you may be able to hold accountable the bar or restaurant that served that drunken driver, as well as the driver and potentially the owner of the vehicle.

Indiana’s Dram Shop Act, Ind. Code 7.1-5-10-15.5, statutorily allows for civil liability in certain situations when one furnishes alcohol to another person who causes harm due to their intoxication. The idea is that those who provide alcoholic beverages are liable for the reasonably foreseeable results of serving drinks to someone who is visibly intoxicated. However, one can only pursue this option when there is evidence the person supplying the alcohol had actual knowledge that the person to whom the drink was sold was visibly intoxicated at the time. Additionally, plaintiffs need to show the intoxication was the proximate cause of the damages alleged. Liability may also be imposed when the person to whom the alcohol was sold was under the age of 21.

The law does not distinguish between vendors who are licensed to serve alcoholic drinks and those who are social hosts providing alcohol for parties. Both can be held liable for furnishing alcohol to someone who goes on to harm another person due to their intoxication. Although this can apply to a number of different scenarios that result in injuries, it is most commonly applied to Indiana car accidents involving drunk driving.

In the case recently reported by The Star Press, the plaintiffs are not alleging dram shop liability against any vendors. Instead, they are pursuing action directly against the drunk driver. It is alleged the 18-year-old decedent was killed after suffering severe head injuries when the moped he was operating was struck from behind by a vehicle driven by the defendant in July 2015. At the time of the collision, the vehicle driver’s blood-alcohol content was 0.24, according to police. This is three times the legal limit of 0.08.

The plaintiffs are seeking damages for the loss of their son’s love and companionship, as well as compensation for hospital, funeral, and legal expenses. It is also alleged the defendant was operating the vehicle not only while intoxicated but also while his license was suspended.

Liability in a case like this may not be difficult to prove. The bigger issue will be damages – how much the plaintiffs are owed and how much the defendant can actually pay. Most auto insurance plans carry coverage for accidents such as these, although a driver without a valid license is unlikely to have been covered. In these cases, the plaintiffs may have grounds to pursue coverage from their son’s uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.

If you or a loved one has been injured in an Indiana drunk driving accident, our dedicated personal injury attorneys can help you explore your legal options.

Indiana Injury Attorney Burton A. Padove handles personal injury claims throughout northern Indiana, including Highland, Gary and Hammond. Call Toll Free 877-446-5294.

Additional Resources:

Victim’s parents sue in fatal DWI case, July 2, 2017, By Douglas Walker, The Star Press

More Blog Entries:

Gary Truck Accident Lawsuit Claims Trucking Company Negligent, July 19, 2017, Highland Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer Blog

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