Articles from our Morgantown Personal Injury Law Office about Safety Issues, Insurance Law, Auto Accidents, Personal Injury Claims, and Other Legal Issues in West Virginia. Questions? Call 304-594-1800 Today. Our phones are answered night and day.
“It’s just crazy how many people went by and didn’t stop. If I was in his situation, I’d want someone to stop and help me.” Nathan Foreman
Kingwood, WV: On Wednesday, January 30, 2012, Brian Delaney of Morgantown, 47, was driving east in a Tri-State Mortuary Plymouth Voyager van that veered into a ditch, crashed into the embankment and rolled several times during a rainstorm. Delaney works for Tri-State Mortuary Services, of Poca, WV and was “on his way to Martinsburg, transporting someone to a funeral home,” according to Senior Trooper Wood of the WV State Police.
Nathan Foreman and Carl Wilson, education specialists at the USP-Hazelton, came upon the van near the Coopers Rock exit as they were returning from Morgantown. The two men stopped to see if they could help. They found Delaney “hanging upside down on the seatbelt,” according to Wilson.
“He wasn’t breathing,” Foreman said. According to Wilson, “It was a dire situation. I used my body to take that pressure off the seatbelt.”
Another man at the scene was small enough to get into the crushed van “to unclick the seatbelt,” according to Wilson. Once the seatbelt was loose, the men removed Delaney from the van and Wilson, a paramedic who once taught emergency medicine, began CPR.
“He slowly started breathing again,” Foreman said. Wilson added, “He didn’t regain consciousness, but he did start to breathe on his own.”
“It’s just crazy how many people went by and didn’t stop,” Foreman said. “If I was in his situation, I’d want someone to stop and help me.”
Delaney was in fair condition at Ruby Memorial Hospital late Wednesday, according to a hospital spokeswoman.
Good Samaritan Laws: Most states have a statute to protect individuals that assist a victim during a medical emergency. Most Good Samaritan laws are created specifically for the general public and assume that there is no medically trained person available to assist the victim. Since the Good Samaritan typically does not have medical training, the law protects him or her from being liable for injury or death caused to the victim during a medical emergency as long as the care was given in good faith and without malicious intent.
Submitted by the Robinette Legal Group, PLLC, West Virginia Injury Lawyers. Free books and downloads for WV accident victims — Call us today: 304-594-1800 for your free copy of Righting the Wrong: WV Serious Injury Guide; Collision Care: WV Auto Injury Guide; or Beside Still Waters: WV Fatal Injury Guide for Families. We are glad to answer your questions.
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) has been designated as the signature injury of the recent conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, and as a result many injured soldiers and their families suffer in silence. In response to the need, the US military is now funding new research and has established multiple centers for those soldiers with traumatic brain injuries to receive effective therapies to rebuild and reroute their neurological pathways in the hope returning to work and building a better future.
Though most of the traumatic brain injury cases we handle are the result of vehicle and work accidents, hazardous military duty and sports activities also often lead to traumatic brain injuries (TBI). Injury to the brain is usually the first injury to occur, and the last to be diagnosed. Thanks to new funding by the US military and the NFL, more hope, treatments, and tests are available to help heal the wounds.
Symptoms of TBI involve a wide range of symptoms including vomiting, persistent headaches, sensitivity to light, memory loss, mood disorders, inability to focus, slow reaction time, dizziness, depression, blurred vision, and loss of balance.
On the leading edge of TBI research are studies concerning the use of Omega-3 fatty acids and new cognitive therapies designed to reroute and stimulate neurological pathways where healthy parts of the brain can compensate by learning to handle new functions. Rest augmented by a battery of mental exercises involving memory drills, math, and hand-eye coordination can help a brain accomplish neuroplasticity, a term which means that the brain repairs, regenerates, and reconnects.
In January of 2013, the results of the examination of the brain of the former NFL player, Junior Seau, were published indicating that Seau’s brain was found to be clearly damaged by the repeated blows inherent to football. Prior to his death by suicide, he had been diagnosed with degenerative brain disease. Results of an NIH study of Seau’s brain revealed abnormalities consistent with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a severe problem experienced by dozens of top football players.
The NFL may be facing thousands of lawsuits right now from former players who say that they were not protected or informed enough about the result of concussion. In response, The NFL, both directly and in partnership with the NIH, Centers for Disease Control and other leading organizations, is supporting a wide range of independent medical and scientific research that will both address CTE and promote the long-term health and safety of athletes at all levels.
PET Scans and Chemical Markers Can Identify Progression of Brain Diseases in Athletes
More and more, researchers have speculated a connection between sports-related concussions and mild traumatic brain injuries with the development of degenerative brain diseases later in life – most notably chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) and even Alzheimer’s disease.
Previously, the only way to confirm a connection between repetitive brain injury and these debilitating brain conditions was through an autopsy.
But now, there may be a new way to identify or track the progression of these brain diseases while a current or former athlete is still alive.
For the first time, researchers from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) have utilized positron emission tomography (PET) scans and a newly developed chemical marker called FDDNP to do brain imaging tests on five retired NFL players. The new imaging technique ultimately revealed the buildup of the abnormal tau protein, which has been associated with repetitive head trauma, as well as the onset of Alzheimer’s.
New Research Indicates Omega-3 May be Part of the Answer
Brain Health Education and Research Institute was founded by Dr. Michael Lewis in 2011 to pursue educational and research endeavors to further knowledge of natural and nutritional ways to improve brain health. The initial focus of the Institute is educating providers and the public on the use of omega-3 fatty acids for the prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation of the brain prior to or following an injury such as traumatic brain injury or concussion. With Dr. Lewis’ 30-plus years of military experience, a special emphasis is working towards improving the care and outcomes of our military personnel and veterans who have experienced psychological or physical trauma to the brain.
Dr. Lewis is a pioneer in the use of omega-3 for concussion and TBI – a simple, yet profound concept. Everyone is different, but his theory is if the basic building blocks of the brain aren’t present, the brain is going to have a more difficult and longer time putting the pieces back together. Here is something essential to know:
According to Dr. Lewis, there is no cure for concussion and TBI. All medical providers can do is optimize the conditions to help the brain do the healing. That is what using omega-3’s will do. It provides a tool, the basic building block, for the brain’s healing.
Omega-3 Aids Brain Recovery of Randal McCloy, Survivor of the Sago Mine Disaster
Neurosurgeon Dr. Julian Bailes is often at the cutting edge of the latest treatments for people with brain injuries. Former NFL players and other notable people with brain injuries—including Randal McCloy Jr., the sole surviving miner in the 2006 Sago Mine disaster in West Virginia—have received his care. Dr. Oz talks with Dr. Bailes about how he used omega-3 fatty acids, a common nutritional supplement, to aid in Randal’s brain recovery.
On January 2, 2006, the nation was captivated by efforts to rescue 13 men who were trapped in the Sago coal mine explosion. While news sources initially reported that all 13 men were alive, tragically it was only Randal who survived. After more than 40 hours of exposure to carbon monoxide, Randal was entrusted into the care of many doctors, including Dr. Bailes. “He’s had a massive heart attack from the carbon monoxide exposure, he was in kidney failure, liver failure, he was dehydrated, he was hypothermic and he was in the deepest of coma,” he says. “We didn’t have anything promising.”
Soon though, Dr. Bailes says he and the other doctors were confident they could save Randal’s life, but it was uncertain if his brain would recover from its extensive injuries. Randal was given three hypobaric oxygen treatments, but Dr. Bailes says there was no drug available that could help repair his damaged brain. “Since there was no drug to do it … why don’t we give him what his brain was made from in the first place, when he was an embryo in his mother’s womb?” Dr. Bailes says. That substance was omega-3 fatty acids. “Omega-3 fatty acids—EPA and DHA—[are] what people commonly would call fish oil, but we gave him a super variety in extremely high doses, up to 19 grams a day that we delivered to him in a liquid form through his tube that was in his stomach,” he says.
As Randal’s brain functions started to improve, Dr. Bailes recorded his findings and now says people suffering from minor to severe brain injuries can benefit greatly from omega-3s. “Consider this as a nutritional supplement, if you will, for their recovery, which I think has very profound effects on the brain,” he says. While Randal was the first known person with brain injuries to be treated with omega-3s, Dr. Bailes says he won’t likely be the last. And, Dr. Bailes says everyone can benefit from the supplement—in fact, he says he takes 800 milligrams of algae-based DHA a day.
Randal McCloy has gone on to live a normal life in a small town in West Virginia and has become the father of two children since the Sago coal mine disaster.
US Army Funds Three-year study of Omega-3’s Effect on Brain Health
Research published last year by Brain Health Education and Research Institute’s Michael Lewis, MD, in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry reported that active-duty military with lower blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids were 62% more likely to have committed suicide compared to those with higher levels. In October 2012, the military announced they are funding a three-year study to do just that. In cooperation with the NIH, researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina led by Bernadette Marriott, Ph.D., a professor in the Clinical Neuroscience Division of the Institute of Psychiatry, will test whether omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oils can relieve the anxieties and quiet the suicidal thoughts plaguing many combat veterans.
“The potential good versus the potential extraordinarily low risk and low cost make this a type of intervention that can be – if findings are warranted – rolled out extremely fast and on a large scale,” said Dr. Ron Acierno, a co-investigator on the project at USC. “Omega-3s are among the primary fatty acids in the brain… They’re responsible for the neural generation and neural repair – for new neurons to be made and for broken ones to be fixed.”According to Dr. Hibbeln, “Research conducted in our lab [at the NIH] during the last 20 years points to a fundamental role for omega-3 fatty acids in protecting against major depression, substance abuse and other problems. Here we hope to be successful in understanding if omega-3 may play a role in reducing the risk of severe suicidal behaviors among U.S. military veterans.”
If research by the Army and Cleveland Clinic is successful, then diagnosis for brain injury could include an inexpensive blood test. Medical researchers are developing a test that will determine the presence of a protein that is released into the bloodstream after a person suffers a brain injury.
Researchers are currently testing their findings by analyzing the blood of college football, hockey, and soccer players to even diagnose concussions. Current methods of diagnosing brain injury involve the use of a CT scanner. These scans are expensive and may also fail to detect slight bleeding and other signs of a brain injury.
The military has also ordered nearly 50,000 sensor helmets with the ability to measure the severity of blows to the head and to detect possible concussions. The NFL is partnering with the military to place similar sensors in the helmets of professional football players.
Research indicates that the potential for serious lifelong traumatic brain injury is increased greatly if a subsequent head injury occurs a short time after a concussion, so a quick and inexpensive means of determining mild brain injuries could be a lifesaver for military personnel, workers, children, and sports participants.
Jeff Robinette, Experienced Brain Injury Litigation Attorney
As a lawyer who has helped victims of TBI navigate and receive substantial settlements from insurance companies, my great hope for these injury victims is that they would be able to move forward with their lives and receive the best care and treatment available. Kudos to those who are at the forefront of this helpful new research designed to overcome TBI and help those people function in a manner close to that of their pre-injury selves.
Submitted by the Robinette Legal Group, PLLC, West Virginia Injury Lawyers. Free books for WV accident victims — Call us today: 304-594-1800 for your free copy of Righting the Wrong: WV Serious Injury Guide; Collision Care: WV Auto Injury Guide; or Beside Still Waters: WV Fatal Injury Guide for Families. We are glad to answer your questions.
Click on the book image for immediate download, or if you are a WV injury victim, call 1-304-594-1800 or email our office today to have a softcover book sent to your home at no cost or obligation to you.
Collision Care: A Guide for West Virginia Accident Victims will give you the basic facts that you must know in order to make the best decisions for your present and future circumstances and to help you achieve the best result possible regarding your injury claim. (87 pages)
Righting the Wrong: West Virginia Serious Injury Guide provides serious injury victims and their families essential information about the insurance claims process to enable them to maximize their efforts to rebuild their lives. (161 pages)
Beside Still Waters: West Virginia Fatal Injury Guide provides surviving family members the information they need in order to pick up the pieces of their lives to enable them to rebuild a financial future for themselves and their children. (123 pages)
Click on a book cover image for a free immediate download, or if you are an injury victim or family member, call our office today to have a softcover copy sent to your home. Due to limited availability, there is a limit of one book per family.
All of these books can also be purchased on Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble for $16.95 each, plus shipping, but if you act now, Jeff will send it to you at No Cost or obligation.
Some of the useful information you will find in these books:
What Are My Legal Rights?
What Is Legal Liability?
What Is Comparative Fault? What happens if we were both at fault?
How Do I Prove My Claim? What documentation must I provide?
For What Damages May I Receive Compensation?
Do I Really Need A Lawyer? How to choose the right lawyer for your case.
Can I Afford A Lawyer?
Financial Motivation Of The Insurance Company – to minimize their pay-outs and maximize their own profit.
What is wrongful death?
Statements and Authorizations – Think twice and get advice before you sign that release!
Social Media Traps and insurance company surveillance of your activities.
Spoliation of Evidence, vehicle salvage issues.
And much, much more!
Bonus Information: The Anatomy of a Real-life Injury Case and 10 Ways to Ruin Your Case
Morgantown lawyer and principal attorney, Jeff Robinette, shares what he believes is the mission of the Robinette Legal Group, PLLC. The primary objective of a personal injury law firm is to help the average person who has been the victim of negligence against the powerful resources of the insurance industry.
About the Author:
Jeffery Robinette is a personal injury lawyer with decades of insurance litigation and trial experience in personal injury and wrongful death claims. Prior to representing injured individuals exclusively, Mr. Robinette was a partner in a major West Virginia law firm where he focused his legal practice on defending serious personal injury and wrongful death claims and lawsuits stemming from auto and truck collisions. He has also represented the nation’s largest and most powerful insurance companies at all levels of litigation including jury trials and appeals in state and federal courts in West Virginia.
Mr. Robinette taught insurance companies and their adjusters how to follow insurance laws and regulations, including how to adjust insurance claims in good faith. He was a frequent speaker at insurance conferences on West Virginia insurance law.
Submitted by the Robinette Legal Group, PLLC, West Virginia Injury Lawyers. Call us today: 304-594-1800. We are glad to answer your questions.
More than 90 million people will be traveling home for the holidays this week. Getting your vehicle ready to travel is one of the most important ways to keep yourself and your family safe and to avoid mishaps along the road.
You certainly want to prepare. Check the Internet to see what the weather forecast is in the area that you’ll be traveling. You may want to leave a little earlier to avoid bad weather, or you may want to allow yourself more time for traffic or the possibility of snow on the roads… use your good common sense. Fill your windshield wiper fluid and tires to recommended levels. If you know you will be driving through snow, throw in some ice melt, kitty litter, or gravel for traction.
If you do break down, the time it takes a towing company to get to you might be longer than usual. They see a huge jump in accidents close to the holidays. You may have to wait an hour or two before help arrives, so prepare for that by making sure that your gas tank is full and be sure to pack extra blankets and food.
Other things to remember are to make sure you don’t always count on your GPS; have a backup plan for directions. If your windshield looks like it has streaks on it it’s probably time to change your wiper blades. And finally, slow down.
Submitted by the Robinette Legal Group, PLLC, West Virginia Injury Lawyers. Free books for WV accident victims — Call us today: 304-594-1800 for your free copy of Righting the Wrong: WV Serious Injury Guide; Collision Care: WV Auto Injury Guide; or Beside Still Waters: WV Fatal Injury Guide for Families. We are glad to answer your questions.
Though my own military career is long behind me, I still reflect on the valuable lessons I learned while serving in the Army. My commitment as a lawyer has been greatly enhanced through learning leadership as a young lieutenant in the 82nd Airborne Division and later as an officer in a Psychological Operations unit. I want to salute my fellow veterans today for the sacrifices they make daily of their personal safety, comfort, and family life – all for us!
I would also like to share an article written by a young woman who is a disabled veteran trying to move on with her life after sacrificially serving in our military. I trust her story will make all of us more sensitive and willing to look for opportunities to show exceptional kindness, appreciation, and sensitivity for those faithful men and women who have served and may be working to overcome life-long challenges resulting from that service.
From Amanda C., Disabled Army Veteran:
“As Veterans Day approaches, may I share a few guidelines that can be helpful when interacting with veterans or service members?
It is never OK to ask a veteran if he or she has killed someone or to joke about it. If we have, we can’t even talk about it with our spouses, much less a stranger.
When you thank us for our service or pay for our meal, it is really appreciated. We also appreciate packages and notes.
Please don’t tell us that wars are a waste of dollars or lives or were fought for oil. What we hear is that, in your opinion, our best friend died for nothing. We know many people disagree with war, but it’s better to keep your opinions to yourself.
Many of us now have PTSD. If you see us acting anxious or moving away from crowds, simple kindness or a little distraction will be appreciated. Talk to us about something interesting and give us some breathing room.
Please remember that 15 percent of those who serve in the military are women, and some have been in combat. It’s better to ask, “Are you a veteran?” rather than, “Was your husband a soldier?”
As with any person who has a disability, please do not stare at us. We can be sensitive about our scars or injuries and would prefer not to be asked to relive a difficult experience by being quizzed about what happened. Please also understand that war injuries today are very different than in the past and are often not visible. It is not OK to tell someone they “don’t look disabled.”
Those of us with disabilities appreciate light conversation and assistance if we look like we are in need. It was my pleasure to serve our country. — AMANDA C., U.S. ARMY DISABLED VETERAN”
HealthNet flew two people to the hospital after they suffered burns at the Harrison Power Station Friday afternoon.
The two contract workers from C&K Industrial who were injured while doing work at the Harrison Power Station in Haywood (Haywood Power Station) Friday have been treated at the West Penn Burn Center and released, according to First Energy Spokesman. One of the workers was treated and released Friday evening, while the other was kept overnight for observation and was released Saturday morning.
HealthNet flew both victims to the West Penn Burn Center in Pittsburgh. First Energy said one of the victims suffered temperature burns on his arms and chest. He was treated and released. The second victim suffered small chemical burns on his face and is still in the hospital.
One had a temperature burn on his bicep and was treated and has since been released from West Penn Burn Center. He was originally going to be treated at Ruby Memorial Hospital, but plans changed mid-air. The other worker suffered small burns on his face, and will be kept overnight for observation also at West Penn Burn Center. The injuries are not life threatening.
First Energy is conducting an internal investigation.
For more information about workplace injuries or for help navigating through serious workplace injury claims, please visit our website or call Jeff Robinette at Robinette Legal Group, PLLC at 304-594-1800.
“I need to quit texting because I could die in a car accident.”
That was one of the final texts written by a 21-year-old before his truck plummeted off a Texas bridge and into a ravine. The young man miraculously survived despite suffering brain injuries and breaking nearly every bone in his body, including his cheekbones, neck, and skull. He also had to be brought back to life three times, reports WBTV.
This past Wednesday the young man left the hospital after a six-month stay that included numerous reconstructive surgeries and intensive rehabilitation (he even had to learn how to speak again). Though the incident took place on January 24, only now is he able to discuss the crash.
“Don’t do it. It’s not worth losing your life,” the man said of texting behind the wheel. “I went to my grandmother’s funeral not long ago, and I kept thinking, it kept jumping into my head, I’m surprised that’s not me up in that casket. I came very close to that, to being gone forever.”
As smartphones increasingly play a role in our lives, so too does distracted driving. A doctor from the young man’s rehabilitation program told the Daily News that he is treating an increased number of patients injured because of texting on the road. “And unfortunately I don’t think we’re going to see a decrease in that anytime soon.”
But driving under the influence of your phone isn’t the only issue; pedestrians are also in danger. Recent security camera footage revealed a shocking incident in which a Philadelphia man fell onto train tracks as he distractedly walked and talked on his cellphone. (Luckily there were no trains were headed his way, and the man escaped to safety.)
“If I had a kid 16 years old starting to drive, they could have a phone but the texting feature wouldn’t be on it,” the young man’s father suggests.
This young man believes one of his reasons for still being alive is to spread the message he learned all too well. “I still have things to do in this world,” he said. “I should tell everyone not to text message and drive.”
Morgantown WV Car Accident Lawyers
If you would like more information about texting while driving or need help in navigating the insurance claims process after having been injured by someone else’s negligence or carelessness in WV, please click here. Jeff Robinette at the Robinette Legal Group in Morgantown answers questions like yours every day and would be happy to answer yours. Call 304-594-1800 today.
A federal judge approved two lawsuit settlements reached in the death of a South Carolina woman last year at the All Good Music Festival.
The woman’s family will receive about $572,000 once fees and expenses are paid, court documents state.
U.S. District Judge Irene Keeley said Monday that the settlements Kim S. Miller, the woman’s father, reached with Clay Harlin Lewin, the man who hit her, and James Tobin and his security firm, Jim Tobin Productions, are fair and reasonable.
According to the Dominion Post, September 5, 2012, the father of a South Carolina woman killed at the last All Good Music Festival on Marvin’s Mountaintop wants to settle with several parties in a civil suit. Kim S. Miller, of Mount Pleasant, S.C., filed suit against promoter Walther Productions and its principals, Tim Walther and Junipa Contento; against Marvin Huggins, owner of Marvin’s Mountain; and against several security firms, including Jim Tobin, owner of Tobin Productions.
In a motion filed in U.S. District Court in Clarksburg recently, Miller asked the court to approve “tentative policy limit settlements” with Walther, Huggins and Tobin.
The settlements were to be presented for court approval at a hearing in U.S. District Court in Clarksburg on Tuesday. No amounts were disclosed in court documents, and Miller’s attorney, Will Early, said he could not comment on the proposed settlements.
Elizabeth Doran and Yen Ton were injured at the festival and Miller’s daughter, Nicole, was killed when a truck driven by Clay Harlin Lewin, of Virginia, ran over the tent in which they were sleeping.
Doran and Ton filed suits against the same parties Miller claims had a role in the incident that killed his daughter, who was 20. All three parties reached settlements with Lewin’s insurance company.
The company was to pay $300,000 to Nicole Miller’s estate, and $100,000 each to Doran and Ton.
Suits are still pending against Event Staffing Inc., of Virginia; National Event Services Inc., of New Hampshire and Axis Security Inc., of Tennessee.
There are also suits pending against individuals associated with some of the companies.
Source: The Dominion Post, “Victim’s Dad asks Court for Approval,” by Michelle Wolford, September 6, 2012.
Settlements are on the table in three suits filed against a Virginia man in the death of one woman and the injury of two others at the 2011 All Good Music Festival. According to documents filed in U.S. District Court in Clarksburg, attorneys for Clay Harlin Lewin, of Cape Charles, Va., have offered a settlement to Kim S. Miller, whose daughter, Nicole Faris Miller, was killed when Lewin’s truck ran over her tent. Offers are also on the table in suits filed by Yen Ton and Elizabeth Doran, who were injured at the same time on July 17, 2011.
Lewin’s insurance company, Virginia Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Co., had coverage limits of $300,000 for each person and $500,000 for each accident, according to a letter filed in the court (more information on compensation at https://mesotheliomaexplained.com/compensation/mesothelioma-lawyer/ – for cancer-related health issues). The company offered $300,000 for Nicole Miller’s estate, and $100,000 each for Ton and Doran. According to a letter included with court documents, Miller’s estate asked for $13.5 million; Ton for $3.7 million and Doran for $975,000.
Lewin acknowledged he lost control of his pickup but blames the parking and security agents who told him to park on a steep, grassy slope near tents and other vehicles.
They were there when he arrived, he says, but no one was present to guide him out when he tried to leave.
Lewin, of Cape Charles, is among about a dozen organizers, producers, promoters and corporations sued over the accident. The other cases remained on track for trials Monday.
Ton, Doran and Kim Miller are also suing: campground operator Marvin’s Mountaintop LLC; Maryland-based Walther Productions; California-based Tobin Productions; M&M Parking Inc. of Pennsylvania; and three security providers, Event Staffing Inc. of Virginia, National Event Services Inc. of New Hampshire, and Axis Security Inc. of Tennessee. Some principals of those companies are also being sued as individuals. All have denied culpability, and most have filed counterclaims against each other.
West Virginia is one of the majority of states that have enacted dram shop liability laws. “Dram shop” is a reference to colonial times when alcohol-serving establishments (shops) used units of liquid measurement called drams to serve alcohol.
Dram shop laws make it possible for bar owners and alcohol servers to be held financially liable if a customer becomes obviously intoxicated on their premises and subsequently injures someone or causes property damage, typically by driving drunk.
So, if a person has several alcoholic drinks at a restaurant or bar and is visibly intoxicated, and then gets in a car and kills someone on the way home, the owner of the serving establishment can be sued for damages.
Many states hold commercial vendors of alcohol, such as bars, taverns and package stores responsible for injury caused by drunk patrons
Laws in most states require the injured person suing a commercial alcohol vendor to prove that the serving of alcohol was a “proximate cause” of the injury
Commercial vendors are liable for injuries caused by an intoxicated customer if they serve liquor to him after he was visibly intoxicated
An employer throwing an office party is liable for any bad misconduct or harassment on the part of an employee if the employee was acting within the scope of his employment and the employer failed to take reasonable preventative steps
Are you or a family member the victim of a drunk driver who went bar-hopping before driving intoxicated? Were you assaulted as a bystander by a drunk patron in a bar fight or a brawl outside a tavern? You may have a right to sue the bar under what are called “dram shop” laws.
Many states hold commercial vendors of alcohol (bars, taverns and package stores) responsible for injuries caused by drunk patrons. Different laws apply to social hosts and employers throwing office parties.
A drunk person can’t collect for injury to himself, but a third party injured by the actions of a drunk person can collect from a bar or tavern under certain circumstances. This is especially important when the drunk person has little or no insurance to cover a serious or fatal injury.
Laws in most states require the injured person suing a commercial alcohol vendor to prove that the serving of alcohol was a “proximate cause” of the injury. In other words, you must show a provable connection between your injury and the drunk person’s act of drinking at that particular bar or tavern.
Laws vary widely by state. In Nevada, commercial vendors won’t be held responsible for injuries caused by drunk patrons, probably because of the devastating impact it would have on the tourist industry. In some states, commercial vendors will only be held responsible for serving alcohol to minors.
In other states, the amount of damages that can be collected from a commercial vendor is capped at a specific amount, under the theory that the major share of blame for the injury should be placed on the drunk person.
Most states hold a commercial vendor liable where:
Alcohol was served to a minor
The vendor was reckless in serving or should have realized the extent of the patron’s intoxication
The vendor sold liquor without a liquor license
The vendor sold liquor after hours
The burden of proof is lower when a bar or tavern has served a minor, as it’s illegal.
The test for deciding whether a bar employee should have realized the extent of a patron’s intoxication is fuzzy. Courts look at the condition of the drunk person, and whether it should have been “foreseeable” to a bar employee serving him or her that the person was already “visibly intoxicated” and shouldn’t be served any more alcohol. It’s not a matter of how many drinks the person has had, but how the alcohol has affected them.
Proving Excess Intoxication
So how do you prove the person who injured you or your family member was “visibly intoxicated?” Some states have tried to clarify this vague test by requiring proof that the drunk person demonstrated “significantly uncoordinated physical action or significant physical dysfunction.” In other states, you must prove that the bar patron was so obviously intoxicated that he presented a “clear danger to himself and others.”
If you or someone you love has been injured by a drunk person whom you suspect may have been served alcohol by a commercial vendor before the injured occurred, it’s important to see a lawyer right away. Proving the obvious intoxication of a bar patron often requires eyewitness testimony of other bar patrons and employees. A lawyer can locate and interview these witnesses quickly, and get witness statements right away while they still remember accurately what happened and before they clam up.
The time limit for filing a legal action against a commercial vendor- called a “statute of limitations” – is often very short. So it’s very important to develop and file your legal action quickly in order to collect.
Sometimes employers will have events, such as holiday parties, after working hours for their employees. These parties will many times take place at bars or restaurants that serve alcohol. If an intoxicated employee causes property damage or commits harassment, the vendor and the employer may be found liable. The employer is liable if a court determines that the employee was acting within the scope of employment.
Employers need to take reasonable steps to prevent misconduct on the part of their employees at parties that serve alcohol. Some examples include:
Discourage excessive drinking by having a cash bar
Have strict alcohol and behavior discipline policies in place
Provide transportation after the party to prevent driving under the influence
Questions for Your Attorney
Who’s liable if an intoxicated person involved in a car accident visited multiple bars before the accident?
How do I track down witnesses from a bar to prove excess intoxication? Can I use waitresses that worked in the bar as witnesses to prove my case?
Who’s liable if an employee gives alcohol to his son at an employer event for employees and their families that’s held at a restaurant?
If you have been injured due to someone else’s negligence, please contact our office by visiting www.robinettelaw.com or calling 304-594-1800. We would be glad to answer your questions.
One person was killed in a crash Wednesday morning on I-79, near the Pennsylvania state line.
According to a press release: A 2008 Ford F-350 Super Duty truck belonging to Energy Contractors LLC was headed north on I-79 when the driver lost control, near the 158 milepost. The truck went into the median and flipped several times, throwing out the driver and a passenger.
The driver was pronounced dead at the scene; the passenger sustained minor injuries.
A Weston man was identified as the victim of Wednesday’s fatal crash on Interstate 79.
The accident was reported to MECCA 911 at 6:28 a.m. The southbound lanes of I-79 were shut down for about an hour and a half, during which the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation routed traffic from the Mount Morris exit to U.S. 19.
According to its website, Energy Contractors provides a range of services for the oil and gas industry throughout the northeastern U.S. and the Appalachian basin.
If you have any questions regarding injuries from truck accidents, contact our office by calling 304-594-1800 or email Jeff at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We answer questions like yours every day, and would be glad to give you the answers you need when navigating the insurance claim settlement process.