When someone is injured by drunk driver, a question that seems to follow after the incident is: what now? In many cases, the recourse for compensation can be complicated and require adept legal knowledge. For example, an intoxicated person who injures somebody in a vehicle collision may not have the assets or insurance to pay for all the damages a victim may have sustained. Furthermore, the different aspects of a drunk and negligent person harming another may be confusing to the victim who is trying to recover or for a family member who has lost a loved one.
Dram shop laws may be one way in which a victim or victim’s family can seek compensation from the person or establishment who negligently supplied alcohol to the drunk driver.
About Dram Shop Law
Dram shop law is adapted from traditional English law that held taverns responsible for the damages incurred from serving someone alcohol to a negligent degree. If a party host or establishment (bar, restaurant, speakeasy, etc.) continues to serve alcohol even though someone is clearly intoxicated, they can be held liable for damages that intoxicated person causes. However this law, like many others, must meet certain requirements (also referred to as elements) before it can be used to portion out liability.
Requirement 1: The party host or establishment must have knowingly or negligently served alcohol to someone who was already intoxicated. This is why bars and other establishments “cut off” people who’ve had enough liquor to be considered intoxicated.
Requirement 2: The plaintiff must prove a party host or establishment serving alcohol to a negligent degree to the person who caused damages was a proximate cause of his or her injuries. This means the plaintiff must show that if the party host or establishment did not serve alcohol in a negligent manner, the damages incurred would not have happened or would have been less severe.
It’s important to note that every case is different and there are situations when dram shop laws wouldn’t apply when a drunk person causes damage. For example, a Georgia Supreme Court Case in 2005 ruled that Delta Airlines wasn’t responsible for an intoxicated person crashing their car after being served alcohol on an airline because there was no reasonable way for the airline staff to know that person would operate a vehicle after the flight. These exceptions also generally apply to liquor stores because there is a reasonable expectation that a customer would consume their alcohol in their own homes.
Options for Alcohol-Related Injury Victims
Dram shop liability is only one possible way to seek compensation in a alcohol-related injury case. The truth is, there could be dozens of factors in a case that determine who is responsible for an injury or death that only an experienced personal injury lawyer has the skills to handle.
The first advantage to retaining a personal injury lawyer is accessibility to different legal options. Your lawyer will should know all the different laws and governing regulations available to help you achieve a fair compensation for your injuries. Additionally, your lawyer will be able to answer any big questions you have, like what you should do to help strengthen your case and what the process of seeking compensation will look like.
The second advantage of retaining a personal injury lawyer is peace of mind. Your lawyer should understand that your job is to recover from your injuries, and that most of the “heavy lifting” of your case will be taken care on your behalf.