Drunk Drivers and Liquor Liability

 
 
What should you know if you were hurt by a drunk driver in Oregon?
If you were injured by a drunk driver, then it is clear that the drunk driver is responsible for your accident and you are entitled to the same amount of compensation as anyone who was injured in a normal traffic accident. Additionally, you are entitled to punitive damages. Punitive damages are a fair amount of money that punishes the drunk driver for their wrong doing and it has to be an amount of money that will scare other people from drinking and driving in the future.
 

Does Someone Besides the Drunk Driver Share Responsibility For Your Accident?

It is our experience that most drunk drivers in Oregon do not have enough insurance or personal assets to fully compensate their victims for their injuries or compensate families for the death of a loved one. Many of our drunk driving investigations discover that the drunk drivers were served alcohol at restaurants or bars while they were visibly intoxicated. It is against the law in Oregon to serve people alcohol after they become visibly intoxicated and if a restaurant, bar or social host violates these laws, then they are also responsible for the injuries caused by the drunk driver.

The Drunk Driver who Caused My Accident May Have Been Served While Visibly Intoxicated --- What Are The Special Requirements That Apply To my Case?


In Oregon there is a requirement that the bar, restaurant or social host must be notified of your intent to file a lawsuit against them within 180 days of the date of the accident if you were injured or within one year of the date of the accident if the accident resulted in death. Additionally, in order to win your case, you must establish by clear and convincing evidence that the bar, restaurant or social host served the drunk driver while they were visibly intoxicated. The best way to prove that the drunk driver was served while visibly intoxicated is to find witnesses who were drinking with the drunk driver or observed the drunk driver drinking prior to the collision. This means that an investigation has to be conducted right away.

Our case against Old Chicago is a good example of what it takes to win a claim against a bar in the state of Oregon. Our client's son was killed by a drunk driver who was served alcohol by Old Chicago prior to the accident. The police conducted an investigation as part of their criminal prosecution against the drunk driver. Whether the drunk driver was served while visibly intoxicated was not a focus of the police investigation since establishing this fact is not necessary for a successful criminal prosecution. Had our clients waited to hire us, then many of the witnesses who could provide testimony as to whether the drunk driver was served while visibly intoxicated would have disappeared. Since we were hired within a few weeks of the accident, we were able to follow up with all of the witnesses at the bar and obtain multiple statements confirming the fact that Old Chicago had violated Oregon law by serving the drunk driver when he exhibited signs of intoxication. Without these witness statements, we would not have been able to obtain a substantial settlement, which is confidential as part of the settlement agreement.

Simply stated, it is important that you hire an attorney right away so that the proper notice can be sent to the restaurant or bar and just as important, so that critical evidence can be gathered before witnesses disappear.
 

TYPICAL DRUNK DRIVER ACCIDENT LEGAL QUESTIONS

What is the most important thing you do for you clients?

 
 
Our first priority is to get your medical bills paid, start your disability payments and help you take care of your property damage so that you can take as much time as you need to get better before you try to settle your case. One of the most important things that we do for our clients is to figure out what problems they are going to have in the future as a result of their accident. After we are certain about your future, we can obtain fair compensation for everything you have gone through and everything that the accident will cost you in the future.
 

Why is it important to hire an Oregon attorney who specializes in traffic collision cases?

 
 
Your case will settle when the insurance company, or whoever you are making a claim against, fears that you will take them to court and force them to fairly compensate you for your injuries. A demand is simple: “Be fair with me or else I will take you to court and have a jury force you to be fair.” Without an attorney, you pose no risk to the insurance company. Our past results in court benefits you because insurance companies in Oregon know that if they are unfair, then The Law Office of Clayton H Morrison will take your case to court. This is why we are able to fairly settle most of our cases as quickly as possible.
 

Can I talk to an Oregon attorney for free, even if I plan on handling my own case?

 
 
Yes. The Law Office of Clayton H Morrison's very best clients are the ones who have tried to settle their own cases. These clients are truly grateful when they end up with two to three times the amount of money that they were offered on their cases without an attorney representing them. In a few moments over the phone, we can give you an estimate of what you claim is worth.
 

Do you need an Oregon lawyer when the other person is admitting they are at fault?

 
 
When you settle your case, you will settle for everything that you have gone through to date and for everything that you are going to suffer in the future. The biggest mistake you can make is settling your case before you are certain about how your injury is going to affect you in the future. One of the most important things that we do for our clients is to figure out what problems they are going to have in the future as a result of their accident.

Besides running the risk of settling your case before you are certain about your future, you also run the risk of settling a claim for less than its fair value. In most cases, the party who caused your injury is represented by an insurance company and its experienced adjuster. Their goal is to pay the least amount of money as possible and they have developed effective strategies to achieve this goal. It is to your advantage to have an attorney handling your claim who is knowledgeable and who can protect your rights. Without an attorney, you run the risk of making serious and costly mistakes.
 
 

Should you give a statement to the insurance company?

 
 
The insurance company for the other driver only needs basic information to begin your claim such as your name, address, and phone number. If you give a recorded statement to an insurance adjuster, you are probably outgunned. You are just a regular person trying to give an honest statement, but you can rest assured that whoever is taking the statement is a complete pro in taking statements. Whoever is taking your statement will have two goals: 1) to find out what your story is, and 2) to see if he/she can twist your words around to make you look bad. Our fist suggestion is that you call us for some free advice before deciding whether or not to give a statement.

Recorded statements given to the other drivers insurance company are generally used to lessen the amount of money that you receive. For example, most doctors agree that it is ... Read more
 

Should you sign a medical authorization for the insurance company?

 
 
In Oregon, you are not required to give a medical authorization to the insurance company of the driver who caused your accident. You have a duty to give a medical authorization to your own insurance company before they will pay your Personal Injury Protection benefits.

Never sign a medical authorization for the insurance company of the person who hurt you. Most medical authorizations allow the insurance company to talk to your doctors without you being present and they will ask your doctor questions in a way that will damage your case. They will also access copies of all of your medical records going all the way back to your birth. The insurance company can and will use your complete medical history to find excuses to give you less money in your accident claim. There may be a lot of personal and confidential information in your ... Read more
 

What are the important statutes of limitations in Oregon?

 
 
In general, Oregon traffic accident cases must be filed with the court within two years of the date of the accident. There are, however, several important exceptions and you should call our office a get free legal advice on your case even if more than two years have passed since your accident.

If you were by a drunk driver, special time limits apply. You may have a case against the bar or social host that served the drunk driver alcohol. This is only possible in certain circumstances, but in order to maintain even the possibility of such a suit, a “Dram Shop Notice” must be sent to the bar or social host within 180 days of the accident. Note: 180 days is not 6 months! If you mail the notice just one day late, your case will not be accepted.  Read more
 
 

FEATURED DRUNK DRIVER ACCIDENT CASE RESULTS

Fatal Car Accident. Confidential Settlement. Drunk Driver and Beaverton Restaurant

RB was a 22 year old class valedictorian killed while riding as a passenger in a vehicle operated by a drunk driver who lost control of the vehicle, left the road and struck a tree. Our medical experts were able to conclude that the driver was served multiple drinks by a Hillsboro restaurant while he had a blood alcohol level of greater than .20 %. Our experts were also able to conclude that at the time that he was being served alcohol by the restaurant, the drunk driver was exhibiting obvious and significant signs of visible intoxication including slurred speech. Our investigator was able to confirm obvious intoxication by interviewing other customers who were at the restaurant that night.

Witness's also confirmed that RB decided not to drive home that night and went to sleep in his car. After he fell asleep the drunk driver took his keys and was driving them home when the accident occurred. The evidence indicated that RB was still asleep at the time of the crash.

Oregon law prohibits restaurants from serving people while visibly intoxicated. The waitress serving the drunk driver was on her first day on the job and had not been trained to cut customers off after they exhibited signs of visible intoxication.

We settled the case against the drunk driver for all of the automobile insurance that was available. We also filed a lawsuit against the restaurant and reached a significant settlement just before trial.

Fatal Car Accident. Confidential Settlement. Drunk Driver and an Aloha Bar

OG was the father of two daughters. He worked nights so that he could care for his daughter with severe disabilities during the day, while his wife worked. He was killed while driving home from work on TV Highway, when he was rear-ended by a drunk driver.

OG survived the initial impact, but died from a burn injury when his vehicle burst into flames. We were hired when OG's wife met with us for a second opinion. She had retained a Hillsboro lawyer who was recommending that she settle the case for $50,000, the drunk drivers liability limits.

We were hired when we explained that there was a potential claim against the restaurant that was serving alcohol to the drunk driver just prior to the collision. Had OG's wife settled with the drunk driver at this time, then the case against the Bar could not be pursued. An agreement was entered where no fee would be taken on the $50,000 and the case against the Bar would be investigated.

The Bar denied that the drunk driver was served while he was visibly intoxicated. A lawsuit was filed. The investigation included taking 14 depositions and retaining 6 experts, three of which provided opinions that based on the drunk drivers blood alcohol level at the time of the crash he was served while visibly intoxicated. A review of OLCC's records also revealed that the Bar had one of the highest liquor law violation records in the Portland metropolitan area.

Just before trial, a request was made to the court to allow us to seek punitive damages against the Bar not only for serving the drunk driver on the night of the collision, but also based upon their repeated history of overserving their customers. Total damages would have been 14.5 million dollars. The case settled shortly after the request was made.

$342,000 Settlement. Portland Drunk Driver Accident.

A family of four were injured when a drunk driver lost control of his pickup truck and hit their van. Mother suffered a fractured ankle. Father and the children suffered soft tissue injuries. Everyone recovered.
 

DRUNK DRIVER ACCIDENT INTERNET RESOURCES

Oregon DMV: Steps to take after an accident. http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/DMV/pages/driverid/acci...

Oregon DMV: Traffic Accident Insurance Report Form PDF http://www.odot.state.or.us/forms/dmv/32.pdf

Oregon Revised Statutes https://www.oregonlegislature.gov/bills_laws/Pages/ORS.aspx

Oregon State Bar http://www.osbar.org/index.html

Oregon Insurance Division: Complaint Form http://www.oregon.gov/DCBS/insurance/gethelp/Pages...

ODOT: Traffic, Bike, Motorcycle & Pedestrian Safety Manuals http://www.odot.state.or.us/forms/dmv/32.pdf

OLCC's Digest of Violations by Bars & Restaurants http://www.oregon.gov/olcc/Pages/casedigest_finalo...
The Law Offices of Clayton H. Morrison are Oregon personal injury attorneys who represent people injured by drunk drivers in car accidents throughout all of Oregon and Washington, including, Portland, Beaverton, Aloha, Hillsboro, Forest Grove, Tigard, Tualatin, Sherwood, Lake Oswego, Oregon City, West Linn, Clackamas, Damascus, Happy Valley, Milwaukie, Estacada, Sandy, Troutdale, Washougal, Camas, Vancouver, Mill Plan, Orchards, Battleground, Ridgefield, Scappoose, Banks, North Plains, Vernonia, Yamhill, Gaston, Carlton, McMinnville, Sheridan, Wilsonville, Woodburn, Kaiser, Salem, Monmouth, Albany, Eugene, Springfield, Cottage Grove, Roseburg, Grants Pass, Medford, Ashland, Brookings, Gold Beach, Port Orford, Bandon, Coos Bay, Reedsport, Florence, Waldport, Newport, Lincoln City, Tillamook, Cannon Beach, Astoria, Longview, Kelso, Hood River, White Salmon, The Dalles, Madras, Redmond, Bend, Burns, Prineville, John Day, Ontario, Baker City, LaGrande, Pendleton, Hermiston, Lakeview, Klamath Falls.