SUGARMAN The Personal Injury Law Firm

When a drunk driver strikes, who pays?

Posted by Benjamin R. Zimmermann

Meet Benjamin

Ben litigates personal injury cases, with an emphasis in the areas of defective products, medical malpractice, construction site accidents, and premises liability. Ben’s case wins have been upheld all the way to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. Meet Benjamin


Around 9:45 p.m. on Saturday, December 1, 2018, a car collided with a school bus on Route 34 in Berkley, MA. Both vehicles went off the road and into the woods, with the bus reportedly rolling three times before coming to a rest. The bus was filled with about 25 adults and children when the accident occurred. Several suffered serious injuries, including broken ribs, a broken jaw, crushed vertebrae, and blood in the lungs.

This accident was caused by drunk driving. A Rhode Island woman allegedly admitted to drinking before the crash. While driving, she hit a black car, causing that vehicle to swerve in front of the school bus, causing the bus to veer off the road.

At the scene, the woman failed field sobriety tests by police, and twice registered a BAC (blood alcohol content) of nearly twice the legal limit. She had been previously arrested for driving under the influence last year in Rhode Island.

She spent the weekend at the New Bedford jail before her arraignment hearing on Monday. She has pled not guilty to several charges:

  • Operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, second offense
  • Negligent operation of a motor vehicle
  • Operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol resulting in serious bodily injury

Who Pays When Insurance Coverage Isn’t Enough?

Alcohol-related motor vehicle accidents and fatalities occur frequently in America. As we discussed in a blog post last year, the insurance held by drunk drivers often falls short – far short – of compensating victims for their injuries.

A potential second avenue for recovery does exist, however. Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 138, §69 reads “No alcoholic beverage shall be sold or delivered…to an intoxicated person.” Under this statute, in some circumstances, bars and restaurants are liable for injuries caused by patrons who were served while intoxicated.

If you have been the victim of an alcohol-related motor vehicle accident, you need an experienced attorney to guide you through your case and the potential avenues for recovery. SUGARMAN’s team of personal injury lawyers can provide you with the help you need. To learn more about bringing a claim, call us at 617-542-1000, email, or fill out a Contact Form.