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Ontario Drunk Driving Accidents - Bars May Also be Liable Parties in Addition to the Drunk Drivers (Part 1)

Auto accidents, including car accidents caused by drunk drivers or impaired drivers, occur every day throughout cities in Ontario, such as Kingston, Ottawa and Whitby.

According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Canada, on average, 4 Canadians are killed, and 175 are injured in impairment-related crashes every day. Between 1,250 and 1,500 people are killed, and more than 63,000 people are injured each year in impairment-related crashes.

When drivers/passengers/pedestrians are injured in car, truck or pedestrian accidents caused by drunk drivers, they have legal rights.

In addition to receiving accident benefits from their own insurance companies, such as medical and rehabilitation care benefits, lost earnings, etc., they may also file lawsuits or tort claims against the drunk drivers to recover non-economic damages such as pain and suffering, as well as economic damages not covered by their accident benefits.

Related: Ontario Car-Truck Accident Law - Your Legal Rights After Being Injured in an Accident

Ontario drunk drivers who cause car, truck or pedestrian accidents may not be the only liable parties in Ontario car accident lawsuits. Commercial bars or restaurants may also be liable for the injured victims' injuries and damages.

Liability of Bars in Ontario After Drunk Driving Accidents

It has been long established in Canada that bars, taverns or restaurants that serve alcohol to patrons have a duty of care to take reasonable steps to prevent drunk driving accidents caused by their patrons or customers. This principle was established in 1995 by the Supreme Court of Canada in Stewart v. Pettie.

In Stewart, Mrs. Stewart and her husband were having dinner and drinks with her brother and his wife, Mr. and Mrs. Pettie, at a dinner theater. Both Mr. Stewart and Mr. Pettie drank heavily. Though Mr. Pettie was intoxicated, he did not show any visible signs of intoxication. After the show, Mr. Pettie was going to drive everyone home. Though his sister and wife knew how much he had drunk, Mr. Pettie still drove everyone home. As a result, he caused a car accident, and his sister, Mrs. Stewart, sustained a head injury that rendered her a quadriplegic.

The court ruled that an establishment which serves alcohol owes "a general duty of care to the persons who can be expected to use the highways." As a result, an establishment may be required to prevent intoxicated patrons from driving where it is apparent that they intend to drive. In addition, establishments owe a duty to third parties who might be using the highways on the basis that the risk of injury to the third party, as well as the patron, is real and foreseeable if the patron is allowed to drive.

Though the Supreme Court of Canada did not hold the dinner theatre liable in Stewart under the facts and circumstances of the case, i.e., it was not foreseeable that Mr. Pettie would be driving, and he was with 2 other adults who knew the level of his intoxication, it did rule that a commercial bar, restaurant and tavern can be held liable to the extent that they contribute to causing an accident.

Click here to continue to part 2 of the article which discusses cases that imposed liability on bars after the Stewartcase.

If you were injured in a drunk driving accident, please call the car accident lawyers at Bergeron Clifford. The lawyers at Bergeron Clifford will explore all of your legal options to help you obtain the full and fair compensation to which you are entitled. Call to schedule a FREE consultation. 1-866-384-5886

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