Recently I saw a news story about a Pierce County man who had been killed by a drunk driver in Puyallup. His daughter, Nathalee Gonzalez, talked to reporters about her dad. It’s a very tragic story and can be even worse if the family doesn’t talk with an attorney since his daughter and older children living in Mexico have lost out on a lot of financial support. From the very minimal facts I have heard about the situation, hopefully the family will hire a lawyer to fully investigate the liability. The family’s lawyer should be able to look into whether not only the insurance company that hit Mr. Gonzalez will pay for their losses, but also his insurance. Additionally, these situations often require that we look at many other areas of liability including:
Government liability – Was this person being supervised by the courts or the jail from a different criminal case? If so, was she complying with court orders not to consume alcohol, was she a repeat violator of her parole or probation and no action was taken? The government has to protect its citizens and if they know that someone is a danger to the community and ignores it then there can be liability.
Alcohol establishment – Where did this person get their alcohol? There are special laws that make a person liable for over-serving an intoxicated person. It is known as the Dram Shop law. In Washington, that statute that governs the law is RCW 66.44.200. A restaurant, bar, hotel, etc can be held liable if the person they served alcohol to caused injury or death after leaving the establishment.
Jacked-up truck – Who created the unsafe truck? It is unclear from the pictures if the truck involved was illegally lifted, but if it was then the company that created the unsafe vehicle could be liable. There are numerous state laws governing the height of vehicles, bumper locations and types, headlight placement, among just about every other part of the vehicle. If this vehicle had been modified to an illegal condition then the party that made those modifications could be liable.
Losing a loved unexpectedly is a tragedy that only those that have gone through it can express the pain. It is important, though, to have someone on your side to help think about some of the long term effects. Since they have a limited amount of time to investigate the claim and bring a lawsuit these people and anyone else involved in a wrongful death motor vehicle accident should talk to an attorney immediately.