I Was Hit by an Underage Drunk Driver: Who Is Legally Liable? By Robert L. Froerer on March 26, 2024

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Drunk driving increases the risk of a car accident by impairing physical and cognitive functions. Every state has set blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limits for drivers. Individuals whose blood levels exceed set limits can face criminal DUI charges. Additionally, drivers can be liable for damages stemming from an accident involving drunk driving.

Despite DUI dangers, people continue to drive while intoxicated. Drunk driving is prevalent even among underage drivers. Individuals hit by an underage drunk driver are likely to ask who is legally liable. The car accident attorneys at Froerer & Miles, who serve Ogden, UT, and Layton, UT, work with injury victims to establish liability for collisions and pursue appropriate compensation for damages.

BAC Limits in Utah

Utah has one of the lowest BAC limits in the country. Whereas the BAC limit in most states is .08, the limit in Utah is .05. The .05 BAC limit applies to drivers aged 21 and older. Underage drivers are subject to more strict standards. Utah has the “not a drop” law that makes it illegal for underage drivers to operate a vehicle with any amount of alcohol in their system.

Who Is Liable for an Accident Caused by an Underage Drunk Driver?

Drunk drivers are typically liable for damages when they cause a car accident. However, holding underage drivers accountable is complex because the civil court does not allow individuals to file a lawsuit against a minor. Although a minor cannot be sued, individuals hit by an underage drunk driver can pursue compensation from other liable parties, which may include the minor’s parents, a business owner, or a social host.

Parent Liability

Parents and guardians are legally liable for their children. If a parent provides their child with alcohol or knowingly allows them to drive a vehicle after consuming alcohol, they can be liable for any resulting car accident damages. Even if a minor’s parents are unaware of alcohol consumption, parental liability affirms that parents and legal guardians are liable when a minor commits a crime or causes injury or property damage to a third party.

Business Liability

It is illegal to sell alcohol to anyone under the age of 18. If a licensed establishment, such as a bar, restaurant, or packaged goods store, sells alcohol to a minor, and the minor then causes a drunk driving accident, the owner of the establishment can be found liable for resulting damages.

Social Host Liability

Individuals under the age of 21 cannot legally consume alcohol, and adults are prohibited from serving minors or providing them with alcohol. If an adult makes alcohol available to a minor and the minor causes an accident while under the effects of alcohol, the social host can be held legally liable for collision damages.

Filing a Personal Injury or Wrongful Death Claim

Our attorneys work with Ogden accident victims to establish liability for underage drunk driving crashes and pursue financial compensation from responsible parties. Depending on the details of the accident, injured parties may be able to file a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit.

A personal injury lawsuit can be filed by individuals who sustain injuries in a crash. A personal injury lawsuit compensates victims for economic and non-economic losses, such as medical expenses, therapy and rehabilitation costs, lost wages, diminished wage-earning capacity, and pain and suffering.

A wrongful death lawsuit can be filed if a car accident victim’s injuries are fatal. After their death, surviving family members can sue liable parties for economic and non-economic losses suffered by the deceased and themselves. Potential damages in a wrongful death lawsuit include medical expenses, funeral and burial expenses, loss of income, loss of consortium (companionship), and pain and suffering.

Contact Us

Individuals injured in drunk driving accidents are likely to suffer catastrophic physical, emotional, and financial losses. If an underage drunk driver hits you, the attorneys at Froerer & Miles can help you establish liability and pursue appropriate compensation. To discuss your case with our legal team, contact us online and request a consultation at your earliest convenience.

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