Fireball DUI Collision in Seattle
Police have a suspect in custody after a fiery alcohol-related wreck seriously injured four people.
All four of the people inside the car were able to get out and were taken to the hospital in stable condition. The driver of that vehicle, however, is in police custody for suspected DUI, an SPD PIO confirmed.
The wreck happened on State Highway 99 near the Dexter Avenue tunnel.
First Party Liability
Alcohol, a powerful depressant, impairs judgment ability and motor skills. These effects often mean that people are fun at parties and dangerous behind the wheel. Washington’s motorist duty of care requires drivers to be at their absolute best, mentally, physically, and otherwise, before they get behind the wheel.
People who drink, even if it’s just a beer or two, aren’t at their absolute best. The impairing effects of alcohol begin at the first drink. At some point, alcohol impairment adversely affects driving ability. In these situations, a Seattle car accident lawyer must get involved. Evidence of alcohol impairment includes:
- Prior visits to bars, restaurants, and other commercial alcohol providers,
- Erratic driving immediately before the crash,
- Bloodshot eyes,
- Unsteady balance, and
- Odor of alcohol.
Individually, these items don’t prove much. For example, cigarette smoke, fatigue, and many other sources could cause bloodshot eyes. But the burden of proof in a civil case is only a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not). Thus, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
If the tortfeasor (negligent driver) was legally intoxicated, the negligence per se rule might apply. Tortfeasors are liable for damages as a matter of law if:
- They violate a safety law, and
- That violation substantially causes injury.
In both ordinary negligence and negligence per se matters, attorney-negotiated settlements are more than three times larger than non-attorney-negotiated settlements. In other words, victims without Seattle personal injury lawyers almost always settle for less.
Third Party Liability
Fireball collisions often cause catastrophic injuries, such as serious burns. These injuries usually require costly, extensive treatment at specialized regional burn centers. These treatments usually include several rounds of skin grafts.
Washington has one of the country’s lowest auto insurance minimum requirements. Therefore, many tortfeasors cannot fully compensate victims for these losses. This compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.
Vicarious liability theories often fill this compensation gap. The first party tortfeasor partially compensates the victim, and a responsible third party provides the rest.
In alcohol-related crash cases, the responsible third party is usually an aforementioned commercial alcohol provider. These providers cannot legally sell alcohol to intoxicated persons. If they do so, they are liable for damages related to that overserving, such as car crash damages. Other illegal sales include underage and unlicensed sales. Third party liability is a key financial component of an alcohol-related collision, and it makes a complex case even more complicated.
Count on a Savvy King County Lawyer
For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Seattle, contact the Emerald Law Group.