A 63-year-old retired power company employee from Bonita Springs was driving drunk the wrong way down a Minnesota highway when he struck another vehicle head-on, killing himself, a 20-year-old man and seriously injuring a 19-year-old female passenger.
Authorities with the Minnesota Highway Patrol reported the at-fault driver, who had a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.41 percent, crossed the center lanes of Highway 61 in his Honda Civic, striking the other vehicle, a Nissan Maxima, head-on. It wasn’t clear if decedent drunk driver had been traveling in the wrong direction for some time or had just crossed over right before the crash. All three people in the crash were wearing seat belts.
The Minnesota Star-Tribune reported that in order have that level of alcohol impairment in someone decedent’s size, he would have had to drink almost 20 shots of 86-proof whiskey over the course of just two hours. That’s according to a calculation by the University of Notre Dame’s Center for Student Health.
The other driver who was killed was a student at the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, Minn. The decedent drunk driver reportedly had worked for the power company in Minnesota for more than 35 years before retiring to move to South Florida. He still kept a cabin in Minnesota, which was located about 50 miles from the crash site.
The young man who died was one of three triplets, and he was studying to become a physician attendant, according to his obituary.
In a case like this, families are often reeling and might not know where they can turn for recovery of damages. When the at-fault driver in a drunk driving accident dies in the crash, victims may still pursue legal action against decedent’s estate. If decedent had insurance, one could take action to collect reimbursement according to the terms of that policy.
Beyond that, one may want to look at the state’s dram shop law. Dram shop laws are statutes that allow victims of drunk driving accidents to take civil action against the establishment that sold or furnished alcohol to the impaired driver.
In Florida, one can only pursue such action if the impaired driver was either underage or known to the establishment to be habitually addicted to alcohol.
We don’t know if the latter would apply in this case because we don’t know the decedent’s history. One might presume this to be the case considering he had such a high blood-alcohol level and was still sitting upright, which would indicate he had built up a tolerance.
But in Minnesota, the laws are a bit different. One can take action against an establishment that sells alcohol either to a minor or to someone who is visibly intoxicated. One would guess that given this man’s extremely high blood-alcohol concentration, his level of intoxication would have been obvious. If he was drinking at a bar or restaurant just prior to the crash, decedent’s family could very well make a strong case for liability based on this statute.
If you or a loved one has suffered because another person got drunk before driving, contact our Naples offices today to learn more about how we can help.
Call the Hollander Law Firm at (888) 751-7770 for a free and confidential consultation. There is no fee unless we win.
State Patrol: Driver’s BAC 0.41 Percent When he Killed Self, Other Motorist in Wreck, Sept. 7, 2015, By Paul Walsh, Star Tribune
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