Bar Owners Could Be Liable for Damages in a DUI Case


A driver who has had too much to drink and has caused an accident will likely be charged with driving under the influence (DUI). The person who was hurt in the accident might also want to hold the bar owner liable for damages along with the driver of the car, who was under the influence at the time of the accident. According to the leading criminal defense attorney, it can be prevented by simply not serving alcohol to people who are already clearly drunk or impaired by drugs or alcohol.

DUI Case

Dram Shop Liability

For many, going out and having drinks with friends is an enjoyable way to relax after a long day. While it may seem harmless, those who drink and drive can be responsible if they cause injuries or death to others.  In many states, if you serve alcohol to patrons who later injure or kill someone while driving, you could be held liable. That’s because of dram shop liability laws. It may also be called social host liability or third-party liability.

First-party Dram Shop Cases

In first-party dram shop cases, bartenders can be held liable if they serve patrons who are already visibly intoxicated, leading to injuries or deaths. If a bar served someone underage or sold them too much alcohol, it may be liable to that individual if they get into an accident later. This type of lawsuit is referred to as a first-party dram shop case. The term dram shop refers to an establishment that serves alcoholic beverages and they could be held responsible if an individual drinks those beverages and then causes harm or damage to others.

Third-party Dram Shop Cases

In dram shop cases, an injured party has brought legal action against a bar or club that served alcohol to someone who was intoxicated and caused injury to another person. While you might think that a business owner should be liable when drunk patrons leave their establishment and cause harm to others, these lawsuits are not always successful.

How to Make a Dram Shop Claim

When someone is injured due to consuming alcohol, they could have grounds to pursue damages against establishments that served it. It’s called a dram shop claim. In order to file one, you must be able to prove negligence on the part of the bar or liquor store.  To do so, you will need to show

  • The establishment sold or provided alcohol to an intoxicated person
  • The establishment was negligent in doing so
  • Your injuries were caused by your intoxication

This can be done through expert testimony and/or eyewitness accounts.

Potential Damages in Dram Cases

If you are injured, or your car is damaged due to an intoxicated driver, you may have grounds to sue. However, it’s difficult to quantify and prove damages in these cases. For example, if you need time off from work, who will pay? How do you prove what your income would have been had you not been injured? The more severe your injuries and losses are, of course, the more likely someone will be willing to take on that challenge and potentially win against a bar owner or seller of alcohol.

How to Recover Compensation in a Dram Shop Claim?

If you’ve been injured or lost a loved one in a drunk driving accident and suspect the establishment may also be liable, a DUI attorney can examine your case and see if you have a valid claim. They might be able to help you recover things like expenses from past and future medical bills, prior and future lost income, loss of future ability to earn a living, difficulties, and sorrows, a loss of companion and connection, and losing the joy of life, and more.

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