A new Georgia Supreme Court decision has changed drunk driving lawsuits in Georgia dramatically. The Supreme Court just ruled that someone other than the driver can be subject to a lawsuit for punitive damages.
In the past, a drunk driver could be sued in a civil suit. This is regardless of the criminal charges against him or her. If the driver caused harm to a person or property, then they could file a civil law suit.
But, the new interpretation of the case law is that a person who helped cause the damage, but was not the driver of the vehicle, can also be sued.
Supreme Court Extends DUI Liability to Third Parties
Supreme Court Justices interpretation comes in a lawsuit against two men, Keith Stroud and Lakenin Morris. The suit alleged that both were intoxicated one afternoon in 2016. Stroud asked Morris to drive his car and gave him the keys, even though he knew they were both impaired. Morris hit a man named Alonzo Reid. Morris pled guilty to a DUI in Criminal Court.
The lawsuit was against both men. Morris (the driver) and Stroud (the owner of the vehicle.) In the Georgia Supreme Court case, both men were ruled as liable for the car accident and required to pay damages. Justice Michael Boggs, who wrote the opinion, said that Stroud “was a proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injury” and that the Georgia State law did not limit the term “active tort-feasor” to the driver alone. (A tort-feasor is a person who commits a civil wrong, intentionally or through negligence.) Boggs explains that “by clear and convincing evidence, they acted in a manner that showed willful misconduct.”
This case is completely separate from criminal proceedings on a DUI case. If you are facing criminal DUI charges in Georgia, Ashley Schiavone can guide you through the process.
What happens after a DUI arrest? Call Ashley Schiavone
If you are arrested for DUI in Georgia, contact an experienced DUI attorney as soon as possible. Ashley Schiavone can take a look at your case and see if there are ways your charges can be reduced or if it is a case that can be tried in court.