A single-vehicle Portland car accident that killed one person and injured two others spotlights both the dangers of reckless and drunk driving and its broader legal implications, even when a second car is not involved.
According to a report earlier this week in The Oregonian a 29 year old man who was riding in the back seat of an SUV died when he was thrown from the vehicle during “a fatal crash Sunday night off Northwest Skyline Boulevard.” The paper reports that “the SUV rolled down a steep embankment toward the 6600 block of Meridian Ridge Drive where it struck a house and caught fire. Neighbors were able to extinguish the fire and no one in the home was injured.” The newspaper, quoting police, says that the SUV’s 39-year-old driver remains in an area hospital in critical condition. The other passenger, a 30-year-old woman, “was treated for her injuries and released” from the hospital.
As the paper notes, “while the cause of the crash remains under investigation… (police) said it appears that alcohol and excessive speed were both contributing factors.”
The legal consequences from this Oregon car crash could be far-reaching. Because it appears to have involved drunk driving our state’s dram shop laws may come into play. These ensure that a bartender, liquor store clerk or even the host of a social event can be held responsible for providing alcohol to someone who is not in a condition to drive. Because there was a fatality it is also possible that the bereaved family might be able to sue for damages based on an Oregon wrongful death claim.
As a Portland auto accident attorney I see cases like this one far too often. Fast driving, nighttime and alcohol are always a poor combination. The details of this case will bear closer scrutiny as the police make more of them available, and our justice system takes its course.