A former Michigan prosecutor recently injured a man in a drunk driving accident. Having prosecuted many drunk drivers, Joshua Kuiper should have known better. He was charged with felony reckless driving after he crashed into Daniel Empson, who was retrieving something from a parked car. Kuiper was driving the wrong way on a one way street at the time of the incident. The former attorney was out in celebration of another prosecutor’s retirement.
Dram Shop Laws
In addition to the dangers of drunk driving, Kuiper should have known about dram shop laws. Named after the traditional term for a unit of liquor, dram shop laws hold bars liable for injuries caused by patrons they’ve over-served. Empson has filed an injury lawsuit against three bars that he alleges over-served Kuiper before the accident.
In MA, it is against the law to serve alcohol to any individual who appears intoxicated. Dram shop laws go one step further by holding bars and restaurants civilly liable for resulting injuries and property damages. The person who was over-served cannot sue the establishment, but anyone who suffered damages due to the intoxicated person’s actions can.
In 2010, it became law in MA for bars and restaurants to purchase liquor liability insurance before obtaining a liquor license. These policies typically pay a minimum of $250,000 when one person is injured or killed, or a minimum of $500,000 when there is more than one victim. As such, dram shop lawsuits have become much more common since the passing of the new law in 2010. A Boston injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured by a drunk driver.
Is Drunk Driving Automatically Considered Reckless Driving?
In short, no. Although Kuiper was intoxicated at the time of the accident, that alone would not have resulted in a reckless driving charge. But the fact that Kuiper was driving the wrong way on a one-way road likely contributed to that charge. Reckless driving is defined as “driving or using any motor vehicle…in a manner which unreasonably interferes with the free and proper use of the public highway, or unreasonably endangers users of the public highway.” Reckless driving is a misdemeanor offense in MA. If convicted, Kuiper will likely receive a license suspension, fines, and possible jail time. Other forms of reckless driving include cutting people off, drag racing, and failing to stop for a police officer.
The Ripple Effect
According to Empson, he was thrown from his car and suffered multiple injuries to his back, shoulder, hip, head, and legs – injuries which may take another year to heal. And the lawsuit against Kuiper and the three Michigan establishments weren’t the only consequences of Kuiper’s misguided actions; his crash also resulted in the termination of Lt. Matt Janiskee of the Grand Rapids police department, and the suspension of two other officers. According to reports, Janiskee told the first officer on the scene to stop talking and call back on the “non-recorded” line. Unfortunately for the three officers implicated, that line was recorded. A MA injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured by a drunk driver.
Altman & Altman, LLP – Boston’s Top Personal Injury Law Firm
If you have been injured due to the negligence or recklessness of another, the skilled legal team at Altman & Altman, LLP can help. We have been protecting the rights of accident and injury victims for more than 50 years. If you have been harmed, you may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, and lost wages. Our experienced, knowledgeable attorneys have an impressive track record of obtaining compensation for our clients, and we will be by your side throughout the entire process. Don’t go through this difficult time alone. We can help. Contact Altman & Altman, LLP today for a free and confidential consultation about your case.