Georgia Man’s Wrongful Death- Was Alcohol A Factor?

The Georgia injury lawyers at Finch McCranie, LLP have handled many wrongful death lawsuits where alcohol was a factor in causing or contributing to our client’s death. Some of these cases have involved our representation of a guest passenger who was killed as a result of the negligence of the host driver. Such could have been the case on Friday evening when an Augusta, Georgia man, Earl Clark, died in an accident on Mike Padgett Highway. Clark was the passenger of a 1988 Toyota Camry traveling north on Mike Padgett Highway. The host driver of the Toyota apparently attempted to turn left onto Clark Road and was struck by two vehicles traveling southbound. The southbound vehicles struck the passenger side of Toyota, trapping Clark in the vehicle. After he was extricated by emergency workers, he was taken to the Medical College of Georgia where he was pronounced dead. According to authorities, alcohol could have been a factor in the accident.
Under Georgia law, a host driver may be liable to the estate of a guest passenger, if the host driver’s negligence caused the death. Unfortunately, most people driving around Georgia’s roads do not have sufficient coverage to satisfy a judgment in a wrongful death case. For that reason, it is important to look to see if a third party may be liable. For instance, if the host driver of Clark’s car had been drinking it would be important to determine who provided alcohol to the driver. Until 1988, Georgia had no statute imposing liability upon bars or other commercial providers of alcoholic beverages for injuries or damages which resulted from the drunk driving of the person served. In fact, the Georgia courts had consistently held that the provider of alcohol could not be liable for the drunk driver’s misdeeds. In other words, they were insulated from liability. However, in 1985, the Georgia Supreme Court, in Sutter v. Hutchings, imposed, for the first time, liability upon the provider of alcoholic beverages for the consequences of the consumer’s drunk driving. Now, a commercial vendor of alcohol, such as a bar, who serves adult guests who are “noticeably intoxicated” at the time they are served may be liable to innocent third parties who are seriously injured or killed in an automobile accident. The Official Code of Georgia Annotated § 51-1-40(b) states that a provider of alcohol may be liable where he 1) willfully, knowingly, and unlawfully sells, furnishes, or serves alcoholic beverages to a person not of lawful drinking age, knowing that such a person will soon be driving a motor vehicle, or 2) knowingly sells, furnishes, or serves alcoholic beverages to a person who is in a state of noticeable intoxication, knowing that such person will soon be driving a motor vehicle.
If your loved one has died as a result of the negligence of a drunk or impaired driver, call the Georgia injury lawyers at Finch McCranie, LLP for a free consultation. We have over forty years experience handling wrongful death cases.

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