As we approach the end of the year, many of us will be attending holiday parties, office parties and New Year’s Eve parties. Alcohol is most likely served at these parties, and there may be more drunk drivers on Ontario roadways during this time of year, which may result in serious drunk driving accidents. Car accident victims who sustain catastrophic injuries may recover financial compensation from drunk drivers. However, they may also have legal rights against social hosts depending on the circumstances.
In general, party hosts or social hosts in Ontario do not have a special duty of care to another party injured by a guest who consumed alcohol at their party. This was established by the case of Childs v. Desormeaux, which was appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada and decided in 2006.
The Childs case involved a tragic fatal car accident that occurred on New Year’s Day, 1999.The catastrophically injured car accident victim was a woman who was riding in the car with her boyfriend when they were struck by a drunk driver. Sadly, her boyfriend died in the accident, and she was left paralyzed. The drunk driver was at a host’s home for a party, and he had brought his own alcohol to the party. The paralyzed woman sued the host. The Supreme Court of Canada agreed with the trial judge in Ottawa and concluded that there was no duty on the part of the social host in that case to other drivers on the road. The Supreme Court held that the host did not have control over the guest’s intoxication, unlike an employer or a bar might have over employees or patrons.
Despite the outcome in the Childs case, the Supreme Court seemed to suggest in its opinion that under a different set of facts, the paralyzed woman could have sued the social host.
Consider the following: A university student goes home in Kingston over the winter break. He goes to a party at a friend’s house. Alcohol is served at the party. The host sees that his friend is having a great time and getting drunk. The host hasn’t seen his friend in a long time and wants him to have a good time. So he continues to serve him alcohol. When the university student is getting ready to go home, the host doesn’t stop him despite knowing that he is drunk and about to get behind the wheel. The university student starts to drive home, crosses over the centre lane on the road and hits a car coming from the opposite direction head on. As a result, the other driver suffers catastrophic injuries, i.e., spinal cord injuries.
In such a situation, there is no doubt that the drunk driver is liable for the injured driver’s catastrophic injuries. However, under the circumstances, the host may also be liable for the driver’s injuries.
Help After an Ontario Drunk Driving Accident
If you were injured in a drunk driving accident in Ontario, you have legal rights. The lawyers at Bergeron Clifford have helped countless car accident victims in Kingston, Ottawa and Whitby.Call to schedule a FREE consultation. 1-866-384-5886.