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Who Pays for Drunk Driving Accidents in Grand Rapids?

 Posted on November 22, 2022 in Personal Injury

Kent County personal injury lawyerFrom Brewery Vivant to City Built Brewing Company to Greyline Brewing Company to the Mitten Brewing Company to Harmony Brewing Company, there is no shortage of local brewery options in Grand Rapids. While these locations certainly offer adults the opportunity to taste some unique beverages, people who overdo alcohol consumption are at greater risk of causing drunk driving accidents.

It was only a few weeks ago that a 27-year-old man was arraigned on two felony charges after he allegedly struck and then dragged a bicyclist more than a mile-and-a-half while having a breath alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.21, nearly three times the legal limit. A Remus man who allegedly rear-ended and killed a motorcyclist was sentenced to one year in Isabella County Jail, while earlier this year, a Kentwood woman was sentenced to at least five years in prison following a January 2021 drunk driving crash that killed a young man.

Michigan Dram Shop Liability

One common theory of liability often floated by people who were victims of drunk driving crashes is that people who sold alcohol to the intoxicated individuals should also be liable. While there is certainly some justification for this belief, there are limited situations in which alcoholic vendors might be liable.

Michigan Compiled Law § 436.1801(2) establishes that a person who suffers injuries in an automobile accident caused by certain drunk drivers has the right to recover actual damages. Michigan Compiled Law § 436.1801(1) is the section of state law providing that a retail licensee cannot directly, individually, or through another party, furnish or give alcohol to a minor or to any individual who is visibly intoxicated.

This state law is known as the Michigan dram shop law, and it translates to meaning that a person who suffers injuries in a drunk driving accident can only sue a bar, tavern, or other establishment selling alcohol if they provided alcohol to a minor or a visibly intoxicated person. While proving sale of alcohol to minors can be easier than demonstrating a person was visibility intoxicated, many establishments are prepared to aggressively defend themselves against any kind of dram shop claim.

Another common area of inquiry concerns so-called social hosts, meaning people who host private parties in which guests get intoxicated and cause motor vehicle accidents. Unfortunately, Michigan state law makes no provisions for social hosts, so your only option in such cases may be filing a personal injury lawsuit based on “standard” negligence.

Contact a Grand Rapids Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer

Did you suffer severe injuries or was your loved one killed in a drunk driving accident in the greater Grand Rapids area? You will want to be sure you begin working with a Kent County car accident attorney at John D. Tallman, PLC, Attorney at Law who will know how to hold every negligent party accountable. 

Our firm takes great pride in helping people recover from their crashes and restoring some form of normality to their lives. Call 616-361-8850 or contact us online for a free consultation. 







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