Wrongful Death Liability
A wrongful death lawsuit is a civil action where the plaintiff files suit against the defendant for causing a death due to negligence or a wrongful act. In New York, a wrongful death claim may only be brought by the personal representative of a deceased individual’s estate. The claim may, however, pursue damages for losses suffered heirs or beneficiaries of the deceased person’s estate.
Wrongful Death Lawsuit Filed Against Tiger Woods
A 24-year-old employee at Tiger Wood’s flagship restaurant died in a car crash after being served alcohol at the restaurant while working as a bartender. A wrongful death lawsuit followed. The plaintiffs are seeking damages for loss of “companionship and affection and protection” in addition to economic support. The suit names both Woods and his girlfriend, Erica Herman, who runs The Woods restaurant. The basis for the claim pursues recourse under Florida’s dram shop law.
Forty-two states have dram shop laws, although the specifics of these kinds of laws vary. Dram shop laws allow injured parties to hold providers of alcohol responsible for damages which resulted from negligently serving patrons. Negligently serving patrons includes continuing to serve a patron who is already visibly intoxicated.
The plaintiffs to the suit, the parents of the deceased individual, claim that the employees, management, and the owners of the restaurant continued to serve and then over-serve a person they all knew to be suffering from alcoholism. It also alleges that Tiger Woods and his girlfriend not only knew the decedent personally, but were also aware of his struggles with alcohol. The lawsuit simply states that their son, known to suffer from the disease of alcoholism, was served to the point of severe intoxication before he was sent out to his car to drive home. On his drive home, he crashed his car and died. His blood alcohol content at the time was .256, more than three times the legal limit for driving.
In order to be successful in the wrongful death action, the plaintiffs have a tough battle to fight. They must first need to prove that their son was a “habitual drunkard.” Florida’s dram shop statute only holds providers of alcohol responsible if the establishment furnishes alcohol to those persons under the age of 21 or when alcohol is knowingly provided to a “habitual drunkard.” This is a high standard and one that will not be met by showing that a person was known to go to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. It is a person addicted to alcohol with no self control when around alcohol. A person that, if offered alcohol, would not be able to refuse.
In addition to the high standard in proving the decedent was a “habitual drunkard,” it will be difficult for the plaintiffs to be successful in a suit filed against Woods and Herman individually. It would likely have been easier to file suit directly against the restaurant. In this suit, the plaintiffs are essentially looking to “pierce the corporate veil” and go after the persons behind the business. This is no easy feat. Generally speaking, an officer, shareholder, or employee of a company will not bear personal liability in a tort action unless the individual was responsible for committing the act that led to the injury or actual participated in the tort.
New York Wrongful Death Attorney
Wrongful death claims resulting from injuries caused by alcohol related injuries happen everywhere. From Florida to New York, alcohol can be the root cause of so much heartache. Like Florida, New York has its own dram shop laws. If you have lost a loved one over an alcohol-related incidence, contact Katter Law Firm. You may have a legal cause of action to seek a monetary recovery for the losses you have sustained due to negligence in over-serving someone. Contact us today.