Over- Service Claims in Washington

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News stories about drunk driving accidents usually blame the driver. But frequently the drunk driver is not the only one to blame.
Bars and restaurants can be held responsible if they let someone have too much to drink.  And the reality is that they have way more insurance than most drunk drivers.

In Washington bars and restaurants used to be liable only if the drunk driver was “obviously intoxicated” when served.  That was pretty tough to establish.Fortunately, the law has changed from “obviously intoxicated” to “apparently intoxicated”.  This relaxed standard means it’s easier to pursue over-service claims. And we’ve handled a lot of them.

A bar served two drinks to a woman. She had four drinks earlier in the night. She drove the wrong way on the viaduct and hit our client. We recovered $1M from the bar.

It’s important to preserve evidence like video and receipts.  It’s also important to interview witnesses to find out how the drunk driver appeared.  Was she loud, obnoxious, spilling drinks or breaking pool cues?  That’s the kind of stuff we find out and why we’re so effective.

We’ve been handling over-service cases for a long time.  Recently we’ve seen an emerging trend: over-service at tribal casinos, restaurants and bars.  There are more and more of these cases but not a lot of attorneys who can handle them.

In order to make a claim against a tribe—even if the accident happens off the reservation—it’s essential to go through the claim process and file suit in tribal court.  Tribes have insurance for these claims and you get a fair shot even in tribal court.

Not a lot of attorneys are admitted to practice in the tribal courts.  But we’re admitted to both the Muckleshoot and Tulalip bars.

There are very short limitations periods on claims against the tribes.  Six months is not uncommon and with some tribes you have an even smaller window of opportunity.  It’s another reason to call us right away if you’re in an accident.

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