What Is Dram Shop Liability?
In 18th Century England, spirits were sold by the spoonful, or “dram,” in establishments called dram shops. Today, dram shop laws hold businesses and individuals (known as social hosts) accountable for serving alcohol to visibly intoxicated persons or minors who cause injury or death.
Although dram shop laws are most commonly applied in drunk-driving cases, they also can be relevant in personal injury lawsuits involving assaults. In addition, if an intoxicated person leaves an establishment and injures him- or herself, they may be entitled to sue the bar owner under dram shop law.
Proving a Dram Shop Claim
These elements are vital to bringing a successful dram shop claim, including:
- Demonstrating that the establishment served alcohol to someone who was visibly intoxicated. This may be based on signs of intoxication such as staggering, slurred speech, crude behavior, and drinking fast. A personal injury lawyer may use the testimony of employees and other witnesses to prove visible intoxication.
- Showing that the establishment’s or social host’s choice to serve a visibly intoxicated person directly led to injury, damage, or death.
A guilty plea or conviction, or a high blood alcohol content, in a DUI case may be used as evidence to prove intoxication in a dram shop claim.
Recovering Compensation in a Dram Shop Claim
If you were injured or lost a loved one in a DUI crash and believe that an establishment also may be liable, a car accident attorney can assess your case and determine whether you have a viable claim. They may be able to help you recover damages such as:
- Past and future medical bills
- Past and future lost income
- Loss of future earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of companionship or consortium
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Holding establishments accountable for serving patrons who are visibly intoxicated sends a message that this type of behavior comes with serious consequences and is categorically unacceptable. Bringing a dram shop action against a bar or restaurant may make them think twice about over-serving their customers, and prevent others from being injured or killed in the future.