Families settle several suits in Bethlehem drunk driving crash

Most any Pennsylvania resident must know that drunk driving is a serious issue. Drunk driving laws in every state of the union exist in an effort to reduce drunk driving related fatalities—but far too many people are killed each year in alcohol related crashes. While criminal liability may arise from drunk driving, accident victims and their families may also seek justice in civil court after a drunk driving accident.

Dram shop laws generally allow victims and the families of victims to recover damages from anyone who serves alcohol to a visibly intoxicated person who later heads out onto the road and injures or kills another person. Three families recently settled several lawsuits filed against several businesses and one individual related to a 2010 fatal wreck totaling into the eight figures.

In January 2010, a traffic accident claimed the lives of three men in Bethlehem Township. Authorities say that a man who had been drinking at several locations that night had consumed more than 30 beers before getting behind the wheel and slamming his truck into the sedan occupied by the three accident victims.

The man accused of drunk driving in the fatal accident pled guilty in 2012 to vehicular homicide as is in prison for that conviction. The families sued several businesses and an individual who had allegedly promised to be the designated driver for the man who was ultimately convicted for the drunk driving accident back in 2010.

The drunk driver had taken a bus trip to attend a hockey game in Reading, Pennsylvania, according to the families of the victims. During the bus trip from Bethlehem to Reading, the families say that the man consumed several beers. Once he arrived at Sovereign Center, the families say that the man downed 15 to 20 beers in a suite. On the return trip, the party reportedly stopped at two bars. The families say that the man drank at each establishment, and even vomited at one of the bars after downing a shot.

The families sought justice from the management company that runs the arena, the beverage company that arranged the bus trip and party, the two bars, a Bethlehem business and the man who was allegedly supposed to drive that night after the party. Those defendants have reportedly settles with the families. Several other claims remain active, including a lawsuit against the man who was convicted in the accident.