If you live in Alabama and lost your spouse due to a drunk driver, you may be wondering what your legal options are for filing a lawsuit. When drunk drivers cause accidents, the establishment where they were drinking at before the accident may be held civilly liable. Here's what you need to know.
The Laws that Provide the Right to File a Lawsuit
In 30 states, including Alabama, bars and other establishments that serve alcohol are required by law to follow the Dram Shop Act. These establishments are required to cut off people who are visibly intoxicated. If they don't, they are held liable for accidents, injuries, and wrongful deaths that are attributed to a drunk driver. This means that family members can sue the establishment for their role in the incident.
For Alabama residents, Section 6-5-71 of the Alabama Code says that immediate family members have the right to file a lawsuit against an establishment to compensate for their loss of a loved one and the support that person provided to them, including financial support. While nothing will be able to bring your loved one back, compensation for your loss may help you take care of bills while you grieve.
Due to the criminal nature of the accident that resulted in the death of your spouse, it's a good idea for you to wait to file a lawsuit until after the criminal court proceedings have established that the drunk driver was at fault for the accident. The reason for this is so that you and your lawyer will be able to show substantial proof from the criminal court that the driver did cause the accident.
You will, however, need to show proof that the establishment that provided your loved one with alcohol on that fateful day or night had played a role in the accident. If you are unsure of the whereabouts of the drunk driver prior to the accident, a wrongful death lawyer can ask for information from the drunk driver and gather evidence from his or her credit card bills and/or from local establishments that served the person alcohol.
This is called discovery, which the drunk driver and the establishments are required to provide. Discovery takes place after a lawsuit is filed. It's a means of collecting evidence to support a court case. If surveillance videos are available, they can be used to determine if the driver was still being served alcohol after he or she was visibly intoxicated.
For more information or assistance, contact a wrongful death lawyer, like one from Powers Law.