Court Says Drunken Driver Who Hit Pole Can Sue Power Company For Improperly Placing It

Despite the fact that a driver was allegedly drunk when she and her passenger crashed into a power pole in Washington, the state’s Supreme Court says she can go ahead and sue the power company responsible for that pole. All because the pole wasn’t in the exact right spot it should’ve been.

According to KIRO-TV, the woman and her passenger were having drinks at a nearby bar and grill, and were driving at least around 34 mph along a curvy road that had an established limit of 25 mph. Court documents show she had nearly twice the legal limit of alcohol in her system, and she pleaded guilty to vehicular assault.

But then there’s that pesky pole — it was 4.47 feet from the road edge, and a county engineer says that placement standards for that stretch of road should have a 10-foot clear zone.

The passenger had a permanent disfigurement of his right arm, say court documents, and filed a claim of negligence against the driver, the local energy company, the county and more. His claims were dismissed at first in trial court, but the State Supreme Court thought otherwise.

“Whatever the reasons for a car’s departure from a roadway, as a matter of policy we reject the notion that a negligently placed utility pole cannot be the legal cause of resulting injury,” Justice Debra Stephens wrote in the opinion. Six other justices concurred.

While both parties have the right to sue, it appears that only the passenger is doing so at this time.

*Thanks for the tip, Gabriel!

Court: Drunken driver, passenger who hit pole can sue power company [KIRO-TV]