Articles Posted in Drunk Driving Accidents

Sometimes car accidents are unavoidable. However, in many cases, car accidents can be prevented by taking certain precautions and with the exercise of common sense. In Indiana, the leading causes of car accidents are reckless driving, distracted driving, and intoxicated driving. In each of these situations, a driver has the ability to avoid the risk factors that contribute to the accident.

Intoxicated driving, in particular, poses a serious threat to Indiana motorists. In fact, there are over 170 fatal traffic accidents each year in Indiana involving alcohol or some other intoxicating substance. While alcohol intoxication is the most common form of intoxicated driving, the law does not distinguish between intoxication by alcohol or intoxication by other substances. Indeed, in Indiana, it is even possible for a motorist to be deemed intoxicated after having taken prescription medication.

When an intoxicated motorist causes an accident resulting in injuries, that driver may be held responsible through an Indiana drunk driving lawsuit. In many cases, the fact that the other driver was intoxicated can make proving allegations of negligence easier for an accident victim, since drunk driving is specifically prohibited by law. While it may make an accident victim’s case easier to prove if the at-fault driver was cited or criminally charged for their conduct, there is no requirement that this be the case.

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Earlier this month, the Nebraska Supreme Court issued an opinion in the case of Pittman v. Rivera, holding that a bar owner was not liable under a theory of negligence when one of the bar’s patrons struck another customer after being kicked out for being aggressive. The court based its decision on a lack of foreseeability at the time the bar’s management kicked out the at-fault patron.

Pittman v. Rivera

Pittman was struck by Rivera’s vehicle after Rivera was kicked out of the defendant’s bar for being aggressive toward his girlfriend, an employee at the bar. Initially, Rivera left the bar without incident, but then he returned a few hours later and tried to get back into the bar. The bar’s bouncer didn’t allow Rivera back in, and Rivera got back into his car.

Rivera, upset that he was not allowed back in the bar, began driving his car in a fast and reckless manner around the bar, making U-turns and revving his engine loudly. While Rivera was engaging in this reckless behavior, Pittman was outside the bar talking with friends. Unfortunately, Pittman was struck by Rivera’s vehicle and suffered serious injuries as a result. Pittman then filed a negligence lawsuit against Rivera as well as the owners of the bar.

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Drunk driving is one of the leading causes of fatal traffic accidents in Indiana. In fact, so far this year there have been over 5,500 alcohol-related car accidents in Indiana alone. Of those, roughly 2,300 have resulted in injury, and 205 have resulted in death. These figures represent about one-third of all traffic accidents in the entire state.

With drunk driving being such a problem in Indiana, the Indiana Legislature took action and passed a Dram Shop Act. Indiana’s Dram Shop Act serves to hold an establishment financially liable when they serve a patron to the point of intoxication, and then that patron causes a car accident. Dram Shop Act cases are most commonly brought against bars but can also be brought against restaurants and even social hosts who provide alcohol to someone who was already visibly intoxicated.

A Recent Example of a Dram Shop Act Case

In Massachusetts, an appellate court recently heard an appeal from a defendant restaurant owner after it was determined by the lower court that the case could proceed to trial. In Bayless v. TTS Trio Corporation, the plaintiff was a woman who lost her father in a single-vehicle car accident after he left the defendant’s restaurant.

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Earlier this month in Miami County, a 10-year-old girl was killed when the car that she was riding in was struck by another vehicle after that driver ran a stop sign. According to one local news report, the accident took place near the intersection of Miami County Road 1200 North and Miami County Road 100 West.

Evidently, the young girl was riding as a passenger in a Chevy Tahoe being operated by her mother. The two were traveling northbound on County Road 100 West, approaching the intersection of County Road 1200 North. As they approached the intersection, a vehicle being operated by a 37-year-old man from Logansport disregarded a stop sign and proceeded into the intersection. As he entered the intersection, his Dodge pickup truck collided with the Tahoe, causing both vehicles to end up in a nearby field.

The Tahoe rolled at least one time, and the Dodge ended up coming to a rest on its side. The driver of the Dodge was able to climb up through the broken window of his truck and waited for emergency personnel. It was later discovered that he suffered from internal injuries, and he was taken to the hospital. The mother in the Tahoe was also taken to the hospital for her injuries. Sadly, the young girl was pronounced dead at the scene.

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Back on September 22 of this year, two passengers in a van were killed when the van’s tire blew out, causing the vehicle to crash. According to one local Indiana news source, police took the blood of the man who was driving the van and are awaiting the results of those tests to see if criminal charges are appropriate. However, two civil cases have already been filed against the driver by two people who were injured in the accident. Other civil suits may be filed in the near future.

What Caused the Accident?

The van involved in the accident was designed to hold 16 passengers, but authorities reported that there were 24 people inside at the time of the crash. While prosecutors believe that there was some undetermined substance in the driver’s blood, that has not yet been determined at this point.

What is known is that the tire on the van blew out, causing the van to crash. Some of the surviving victims told reporters and police that the driver was drag racing at the time of the accident, and this may have contributed to the accident. There also may be an issue as to the condition of the tire because it was noted that the van was in poor condition generally, with a long wooden board attached to the rear of the vehicle to act as a bumper.

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