If you have been injured in a drunk driving accident that was caused by another, you have grounds to seek compensation for your injuries from the at-fault party. The most obvious at-fault party is the drunk driver. However, in some cases you may also be able to seek compensation from the bar or establishment that sold the drunk driver alcohol.
A “dram shop law” is a special type of law that governs lawsuits over injuries caused by people who bought alcoholic drinks at bars or restaurants. Each state has its own dram shop laws. If you feel that the bar or restaurant is partly responsible for your injuries, you may be able to file a dram shop lawsuit.
There are two main types of dram shop cases:
- First-Party Dram Shop Cases – This type of case is pursued when the injured plaintiff is the person who was sold the alcoholic beverages.
- Third-Party Dram Shop Cases – This type of case is pursued when the injured person is someone other than the drunk person.
Dram shop cases are difficult to win. This is because juries tend to think that people are responsible for their own actions. That means that if someone gets drunk at a bar, drives away and causes a crash, that person should be responsible for any resulting injuries, not the bar.
Proving Negligence in a Dram Shop Case
To win a dram shop case, a plaintiff must prove that the defendant bar or establishment was negligent. An example would be bartenders/servers continuing to serve a patron whom they knew or reasonably should have known was drunk. A bar could also be held responsible if a minor was served alcohol and later caused a DUI crash.
Some examples of negligence include:
- The bar serving someone without requesting proof of age
- The bar serving someone who appears to be intoxicated
- The bar serving someone after closing time
- The bar serving someone who reasonably became intoxicated as a result of the amount of alcohol served
Damages in a Dram Shop Case
Like other types of personal injury cases, a dram shop case could result in compensation for the victim if he or she is able to prove negligence on the bar or establishment’s part. Some states will place caps on the amount of compensation awarded, which can be as low as $250,000. A personal injury attorney can help you determine the type and amount of damages to seek in your case.
It is important to note that some states have mandatory notice requirements. Some of these can be as short as 60 days. This means that you have to provide a formal written notice to the bar within 60 days of the accident that you intend on filing a dram shop claim against the bar. If you miss the deadline, you may not be able to file a suit. Many states also have a statute of limitations on dram shop cases. This means that there is a specific amount of time that an injured person will have to file a lawsuit against any potential defendants. Statutes of limitations can range from one to six years, depending on the case. To ensure you have every opportunity to seek compensation for your injuries from the negligent parties, speak with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible.