According to the organization Mothers Against Drunk Driving (“MADD”), every two minutes someone is injured in a drunk driving crash and every 51 minutes, someone is killed by a drunk driving crash. Drunk driving remains the #1 cause of death on our roadways.
On December 29, 2019, a 13-year-old girl, Claire Zisserson, died in a car crash caused by a drunk driver. Two other victims were also seriously injured. It’s alleged that the driver Gregory Goodsell acknowledged to police that he had been drinking and had taken cocaine at a company Christmas Party.
Unquestionably, the drunk driver is responsible for this tragedy. However, what liability does Hi-Way Safety Systems, a highway contractor, have for Zisserson’s death?
In 2010, DILLER LAW, PC tried to hold a company responsible for the drunk driving of its employee who left a company business meeting. The Supreme Judicial Court, however, held that the employer is responsible only when it furnishes or controls the liquor supply. The Hi-Way Safety Systems case, however, is different and presents a scenario where the employer should be held accountable for the wrongful death of Zisserson.
Regardless of whether Hi-Way Safety Systems controlled or furnished the alcohol, it appears that it owned the car that the drunk driver was using. In fact, the company logo was on the truck.
Moreover, it appears that Hi-Way Safety Systems had plenty of notice before the incident. Not only did the company have actual knowledge that Goodsell was chronically using the company vehicle for unauthorized personal use; but also Hi-Way Safety Systems entrusted the vehicle to Goodsell who was unfit to operate because he had an extensive driving history involving 35 incidents, including a previous accident that led to reckless operation, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct charges.
Companies, like Hi-Way Safety Systems, need to be held accountable for its lack of prudence in giving the keys to the company vehicle to someone it knew or should have known was unfit.
Boston.com noted that the intoxicated responsible party is being charged for DUI manslaughter, two counts of operating under the influence causing serious injury, and one count each for having an open container in the vehicle, negligent operation, marked lanes violation, speeding, improper passing, and failure to stop at a traffic signal. He is currently being held without bail until his hearing commences.
The man admitted to drinking beer, whiskey, and using cocaine into the early morning hours before the accident took place. The prosecutor allegedly stated that he attended a company Christmas party the evening before.
Unless we hold drunk drivers and their employers accountable for such drunk driving crashes, this epidemic will continue to affect our community.
If you or your loved one has been impacted by a drunk driver, you should seek the counsel of a competent lawyer who will hold the wrongdoers accountable for the damage.
Results can vary depending on the severity of the case, and the diligence of the prosecution, so it’s important to work with a professional personal injury attorney as soon as something like this arises. Don’t hesitate to learn more about who may be responsible for causing drunk driving crashes including the bars, nightclubs, liquor store or party hosts.