‘Tis the season for holiday parties, which means it is also the season for DUII crashes. Many of these crashes cause catastrophic injuries or deaths. When that occurs it is likely that the injured person’s family will want to hold all negligent persons responsible for causing the injuries or death. Most people think that simply the impaired driver is solely responsible for causing the crash. However, that may not be the case if the DUII driver is leaving a residence or bar where he was over-served alcohol. In Oregon you can be sued if you are a social host and over-serve a visibly intoxicated person who causes a car crash. This means that you may be responsible for the injured person’s losses which can be millions of dollars in some cases.
To put it another way, homeowner’s can be held responsible for serving alcohol to a person that is visibly intoxicated and later injures another in a DUII crash. (See ORS 471.565). Oregon courts have determined a person who receives guests in a social setting, in which the host serves or directs the serving of booze or beer to guests can be held accountable if the overly intoxicated person later injures another in a DUII crash. Don’t believe me? Check out the Court’s opinion in Deckard v. Bunch, 358 Or 754 (2016).
Social Host liability is important because home owner’s and renter’s insurance policies may cover DUII crash injuries and provide tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands of dollars, in additional insurance coverage. This money can be used to pay medical bills, physical therapy, vocational rehabilitation, and to compensate the injured person or their family for their harms and losses. More importantly, social host liability will hopefully act as a deterrent to over-serving intoxicated people who may get behind the wheel.
Social Host cases can be complicated and there are other theories an attorney can use to attempt to obtain maximum recovery for a person’s wrongful death, injury, or loss. Please contact Portland Personal Injury Attorney, Jeremiah Ross, at 503.224.1658 for a free personal injury consultation. Please remember this post is for informational purposes only and you should rely on the current statute and case law when considering a dram shop claim. These laws constantly change and the theories of liability are not as clear as they were in the past. Please consult with an attorney if you believe you have a dram shop claim, social host claim, or have been injured by a DUII Driver.