Wellborn Paluch, LLP Blog

Saturday, November 7, 2015

In Aftermath of Recent Homecoming Disasters, Who's to Blame?

Liability for damages can extend beyond the  party who is directly at fault for an accident at  a school-sanctioned event.

Mid-October, 2015 has seen one tragedy after another – with two separate, catastrophic homecoming parade disasters occurring on the same weekend. The first tragedy occurred at the Oklahoma State University Homecoming Parade when an intoxicated driver careened into the stands, killing three adults and one 2-year-old child. The same afternoon, another drunk driver smashed into a fraternity picnic, injuring seven attendees, including one woman who suffered a broken neck.

In the wake of such tragedies, it is not uncommon for victims and family members to seek answers – particularly, whether such tragedies could have been avoided. From a legal standpoint, all victims undoubtedly have a cause of action in personal injury – but against whom?

Without question, the two intoxicated drivers involved in these incidents are most assuredly liable in the accident. However, could there be additional responsible parties besides the direct causes of these accidents? As the facts suggest, both drivers were legally drunk at the time of the collisions, so it is possible that either was over-served at a local bar or restaurant. In this scenario, it may be possible to name the bar or bartender who provided alcohol to a clearly intoxicated person as, at least partially, liable.

Could the schools face liability as well? Possibly, depending upon the security arrangement at the time of the crash, whether security personnel were aware of any misdeeds prior to the event, and whether the events were properly supervised. Moreover, a school could face liability for failing to hire qualified and/or experienced security staff to work the events in question.

As with any personal injury case, the result will be highly fact-driven, and any number of resolutions could come about.

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