In all 50 states of the United States, drunk driving is forbidden by law. Nevertheless, as per the reports of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, about 30% of fatal traffic accidents involve drivers intoxicated by alcohol. Cognizant of the devastating consequences of drunk driving, the Dram Shop Law has been implemented, which extends civil liability to establishments that serve alcohol. In short, the law allows victims injured by drunk drivers to sue the bars or restaurants that served them alcohol. This helps enhance the responsibility of alcohol vendors, which results in a reduction in the number of traffic crashes involving drunk drivers. Keep reading below to know in detail.
What is the Dram Shop Law?
The establishment of the Dram Shop Law occurs at the level of the state and is not formulated by the federal government. Therefore, there are slight variations in the definition of the law from state to state. However, the crux of the law lies in holding accountable those alcohol vendors who sell alcohol to patrons who are under the legal drinking age and those who are visibly intoxicated. The employees of the drama shops (bars, restaurants, clubs, and taverns), therefore, need to be trained to identify patrons who are already drunk to prevent over serving alcohol. Click here to know more about the Dram Shop Law.
How to Succeed in a Dram Shop Law Claim?
One major milestone of succeeding in a Dram Shop law claim is to prove that the particular establishment you are suing is directly responsible for serving alcohol illegally to the person who caused you harm through drunk driving. This often becomes difficult in cases where patrons are involved in bar-hopping. Finding the exact dram shop responsible for overserving, in that case, becomes a herculean task. To hold a vendor responsible, you need to prove the following:
- Your injuries are a direct result of the recklessness of the other person caused due to intoxication
- The person was either below the legal drinking age or was observably intoxicated when the vendor served them alcohol
- The unlawful sale of alcohol interfered with the person’s critical thinking abilities and marred their judgment which resulted in them acting recklessly and causing the accident.
You might require pieces of evidence to prove the above facts in a dram shop case. Those can be provided by witness testimony, surveillance footage, transaction records reflecting the number of drinks purchased, field sobriety test results, and breathalyzer test results.
Losses Incurred in a Dram Shop Case
Drunk driving accidents wreak havoc on the lives of the victims. The damage can be both personal and economic. The medical expenses to cure the injuries are often huge. Besides, during the course of treatment, the person becomes unable to earn. Sometimes, severe injuries can cripple one for life, leaving them incapable of ever earning their livelihood. In the worst cases, people succumb to the injuries, leaving their loved ones behind.
A dram shop liability claim can help one recover the medical expenses, the lost wages during periods of inactivity due to the injuries, and get fair compensation in case of loss of life due to the accident or a lifelong disability resulting from that.
When the drunk driver involved in the accident does not have insurance coverage or enough financial assets to compensate for the loss caused by his recklessness, a Dram Shop case descends as a boon to help the victim recover for their loss.
Navigating the entire process of recovering the compensation after an accident is extremely taxing. Therefore, working with an attorney is a far better deal than doing it all alone. Accident lawyers, with their expertise, will help establish liabilities, track the dram shop responsible for the unlawful sale, represent you in court with the required evidence, and help you get a fair settlement. As they take some burden off your shoulders, you will get more time to focus on your family and your own healing.