Wrongful Death - Auto Accident

Dan R. Denton

Case Conclusion Date:June 1, 2009

Practice Area:Wrongful Death

Outcome:Settled for $1,000,000 in pre-suit mediation

Description:A young man was invited to visit his friend at his parent’s house, who were away, and they started drinking in early evening and both became intoxicated. The host-driver invited his guest to ride in his car to go to a store a store a few miles away. On the return trip, the driver was speeding and lost control of his vehicle and crashed into a tree, killing his passenger-guest upon impact. Since the driver’s car was provided to him by his father, who retained title, the defense conceded that the Family Purpose Doctrine applied (exposing the father’s assets and provided additional insurance coverage). Assumption of the risk was a troubling issue, but we argued that the driver had an enhanced duty of care as the host-driver (as in Dram Shop cases) and because his guest was highly intoxicated and less able to judge the risks than his host, who was less intoxicated. The driver was charged with felony DUI and pled guilty to Involuntary Manslaughter.