Case Study: Wrongful Death

Large Confidential Settlement Reached in Wrongful Death Claim Involving a Bar

On an early summer night, our client was driving home from work on Interstate 84. Approximately 40 minutes into her drive, she was struck head-on by a motorist traveling the wrong way on the Interstate. The head-on impact at highway speeds was forceful, killing our client instantly. Several members of the family arrived at the scene shortly after the wreck. It was heartbreaking and traumatizing.

The family was distraught, angry, and unsure how to proceed. After hiring DWC, we opened an estate to pursue the wrongful death claim on behalf of the family’s loved one. The at-fault driver’s insurance carrier quickly offered the limits of their policy. We were also offered policy limits from our client’s insurance carrier. We heard unconfirmed rumors that the at-fault driver was driving while intoxicated. Before agreeing to any settlements, we wanted to know more about that, including when, where, and how much.

The at-fault driver survived the wreck and was Life Flighted to a nearby hospital, where he underwent treatment for his extensive injuries. While hospitalized, the police discovered that the at-fault driver was driving while under the influence of intoxicants (here, alcohol). Due to the criminal investigation and pending charges, we were unable to get the full investigative record at this time but kept in close contact with the district attorney’s office.

After discovering the location where the at-fault driver was drinking prior to the wreck, we sent a DRAM shop notice to the establishment. This put them on notice that we intended to bring a wrongful death claim on behalf of the estate due to the establishment overserving a visibly intoxicated person.

We ultimately received the full investigative file from the district attorney’s office, including video footage from inside the establishment. We watched and documented hours of video footage. The video footage clearly showed a very intoxicated person (the at-fault driver) being served drink after drink. He ultimately left the establishment, driving the wrong way on the Interstate, killing our client.

The overserving bar hired a defense attorney, who contacted DWC to discuss the claim. The defense attorney pushed back on the wrongful death claim a bit. He wanted to know about our evidence and view it himself. I directed him to his own client since that is where the video footage originated from. After watching the footage and discussing it with his client, they understood that the bar had significant exposure. After several rounds of negotiations, the case settled for a confidential amount. In the end, we were able to get settlements from the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier, our client’s insurance carrier, and the insurance carrier for the bar that overserved the at-fault driver.