The holiday season is already upon us. From late November to early January, a surge of festivities invites us to socialize with our coworkers, friends, and loved ones. Too often, there are more opportunities and obligations to imbibe than many of us can handle. Consequently, the toll for alcohol-related crashes and fatalities spikes during the holiday season. The number of personal injury claims brought forth against intoxicated persons and their handlers follows suit.
Whether you are a social host or you run an establishment that sells alcohol, be wary of Oregon’s dram shop law that holds both vendors and social hosts liable for personal injury claims after an alcohol-induced incident. Yes, even homeowners can be liable when victims sustain injuries after DUII and other accidents if they are not careful about to whom they serve alcohol.
Social Host and Dram Shop Law
Like every other state, Oregon allows individuals hurt by an inebriated person to pursue a civil claim against the at-fault party. The funds from this claim are allocated to costs associated with the accident, such as medical bills, lost wages, the costs of ongoing care, and pain and suffering, among others. Under certain circumstances, the injured party may also sue the social host or vendor responsible for providing alcohol to the intoxicated person. The victim of the accident must establish just two facts to have a viable lawsuit:
- The injured party must show that the vendor provided alcohol after the intoxicated person was already visibly intoxicated.
- The injured party must show that he or she did not “substantially contribute” to the state of intoxication. This means that the injured party must not have taken any action to encourage more drinking by buying more alcohol or aiding his intoxication in any other way, such as by giving the drunk to purchase even more alcohol.
Oregon Social Host Liability
Like vendors, social hosts can be the subject of a personal injury lawsuit. A person who sustains injuries because of an intoxicated person’s negligence may sue the social hosts who served the intoxicated person alcohol. For a successful claim, the victim must prove that:
- The intoxicated person was visibly intoxicated when the host served him alcohol, and the injured party did not substantially contribute to the state of intoxication.
- The intoxicated person was a minor, and a reasonable social host would have checked his ID or spotted a fake.
Although accidents can happen anywhere, the most severe alcohol-related incidents take place when an intoxicated person leaves a social gathering and gets behind the wheel. A social host may avoid liability by planning for alternate methods of transportation to get their guests home safely or allowing guests to spend the night.
Alternatives for Drinking and Driving During the Holidays
During the holiday season, 40% of traffic fatalities involve a driver impaired by alcohol. Additionally, two to three times as many people die in alcohol-related crashes than at any other time of year. For many who survive these accidents, they may sustain crippling injuries that stand to completely change their way of life. The most painful realization is that partygoers can completely avoid DUII accidents by planning to take advantage of transportation options.
Thanks to rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft, getting a ride across town is easier than ever. You no longer have to worry about getting your car to and from an event that involves alcohol in Portland, where it is often difficult to hail a cab.
It’s widely believed that the availability of rides helps decrease instances of DUIIs. While current research does not generally support this, it rings true in Portland. According to the American Journal of Epidemiology’s report Ridesharing and Motor Vehicle Crashes in 4 US Cities: An Interrupted Time-Series Analysis, “[in Portland] Uber’s resumption was associated with a 61.8% reduction in the alcohol-involved crash rate (an absolute decrease of 3.1 alcohol-involved crashes per week).”
MAX Light Rail and TriMet buses are available around the clock. With 97 stations and 60 miles of track, MAX runs between downtown Portland and the airport, and from Gresham to Hillsboro. TriMet buses are available all throughout the city. On New Year’s Eve, TriMet offers free train and bus rides after 8 p.m.
If you are too inebriated to hail a ride or get on the right bus, you might want to ask your social host if you can spend the night. If you were hurt by a driver who did not think he’d get caught drunk behind the wheel, you have the right to sue for civil damages. Contact Rizk Law today to discuss your claim with an attorney. Call (503) 245-5677 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.