Dram Shop Lawsuit

People often gather at bars, restaurants, or other establishments to enjoy one another’s company in the presence of alcoholic refreshments. It can be easy to lose oneself in these social settings and under the influence of alcohol, which is why these establishments have a crucial duty to their patrons. If a business provides alcohol to a visibly intoxicated person or someone underage, that person could go on to cause a drunk driving accident. While the drunk driver may be liable for the accident, the business may also share some responsibility. Dram shop lawsuits hold these establishments accountable for overserving patrons or minors who cause harm to themselves or others. 

If you were injured by a drunk driver who became intoxicated at a bar or restaurant, you could have a dram shop lawsuit against the establishment that served the alcohol. Under dram shop laws, these businesses can be sued for the actions of drunk drivers. Contact The Lake Law Firm today at (888) 525-3529 or fill out the free case evaluation form to learn how our firm can support you.  

What Are Dram Shop Lawsuits? 

Contrary to popular belief, the assumption that only drunk drivers can be held liable for alcohol-related accidents is not always accurate.  

A dram shop lawsuit refers to a legal action brought against an establishment that serves alcohol, such as bars, restaurants, hotels, or liquor stores, for contributing to injuries or damages caused by an intoxicated individual. The term “dram shop” has historical roots in England, where alcohol was sold by a unit called a “dram.”   

In a dram shop lawsuit, the injured party or their representatives seek to hold the establishment accountable for negligently or unlawfully serving alcohol to someone who was visibly intoxicated or underage, leading to accidents, injuries, or even fatalities.  

Who Can I Sue in a Dram Shop Lawsuit? 

Dram shop liability extends to various types of establishments that serve alcohol. These include:  

  • Bars and taverns 
  • Restaurants 
  • Hotels and resorts 
  • Liquor stores  

Liability for Different Establishments 

Each type of establishment subject to dram shop liability bears a different level of responsibility during alcohol service. Bars and taverns must monitor and control the intoxication levels of their patrons. Also, they must train their staff to recognize signs of intoxication and intervene appropriately, such as by refusing further service or arranging alternative transportation for visibly intoxicated individuals.  

Restaurants that serve alcohol also have a responsibility to monitor the sobriety of their patrons, even though their primary focus may be on food service. Similarly, hotels and resorts that offer alcohol services must take steps to prevent overconsumption.  

On the other hand, liquor stores and retailers have a different role in dram shop liability. These stores do not serve alcohol for immediate consumption on the premises. However, they are responsible for ensuring they do not sell alcohol to minors or to visibly intoxicated individuals.

State Variations in Dram Shop Laws 

It is important to note that dram shop laws can vary from state to state. Some states may have stricter regulations and broader interpretations of dram shop liability. Meanwhile, others may have no dram shop laws at all. For example, Delaware, Kansas, Louisiana, and Maryland are just a few states with no dram shop liability laws. Furthermore, the enforcement of dram shop laws will differ among states. For instance, while California does allow third-party dram shop lawsuits, it severely restricts these cases, and these claims are only successful in rare circumstances.   

State variations in dram shop liability include factors such as the standard of proof required to establish liability, the types of damages available, the statute of limitations for filing a claim, and any limitations on the amount of compensation that a jury can award.  

Additionally, some states prohibit first-party dram shop lawsuits. The individual who consumed alcohol and suffered harm files the first-party lawsuit. However, a third-party lawsuit is filed by someone injured or affected by the actions of an intoxicated individual. First-party dram shop lawsuits tend to be much more challenging to prove and win.  

Speak with a dram shop lawyer today to see if you are eligible to file a claim in your state.  

Evidence in Dram Shop Lawsuits 

In dram shop lawsuits, evidence is vital to establishing liability and determining the extent of damages. The following types of evidence are particularly significant: 

Documentation of Alcohol Service 

Receipts, sales records, and order logs from the establishment can provide evidence of the amount and timing of alcohol served to the intoxicated individual. These records can help establish a timeline and demonstrate whether the establishment breached its duty by overserving, serving alcohol to an underage person, or serving alcohol after closing time.   

Surveillance Footage 

Many establishments have security cameras that capture incidents and interactions. Surveillance footage can be crucial in illustrating the level of intoxication of the individual, any signs of impairment or erratic behavior, and the actions of the establishment’s staff.  

 Witness Statements 

Testimony from individuals who witnessed the incident or interacted with the intoxicated person can offer critical firsthand accounts. Witnesses can provide information about the behavior and demeanor of the intoxicated individual, the actions of the establishment’s staff, and any interactions that took place prior to the incident.   

It may seem like a daunting and time-consuming task to gather the necessary evidence for a dram shop lawsuit. That is why hiring a lawyer can prove extremely helpful in filing a successful claim. They have the expertise to thoroughly investigate the incident and collect critical evidence.  

How Much Could I Recover in a Dram Shop Lawsuit?  

Were you or a loved one injured by a drunk driver that an establishment served irresponsibly? You may recover compensation for any or all of the following: 

  • Past and future medical expenses; 
  • Past and future pain and suffering; 
  • Loss of wages; and 
  • Other economic losses related to your injury. 

Dram Shop Settlements and Verdicts 

Individuals who have filed dram shop lawsuits have secured substantial compensation amounts. A few examples of these verdicts include:   

  • In 2021, a Texas jury awarded $300 billion to the family of 59-year-old Tamra Kindred and her 16-year-old granddaughter Aujuni Anderson, killed by a drunk driver. The family alleged the bar overserved the drunk driver, who had 11 drinks the night of the accident.  
  • Two individuals who sustained serious injuries after being struck by a drunk driver agreed to a $5.5 million settlement with two bars that reportedly served the driver.  

How Our Law Firm Can Help You 

The Lake Law Firm was founded by Edward J. Lake, Esq., a personal injury lawyer for over 25 years. Our dedicated team of attorneys is committed to seeking justice on behalf of those who have suffered injury or death due to the negligence of others. Our experienced attorneys handle many different types of pharmaceutical drugs, medical devices, and other defective products. The lawyers in our firm have helped collect millions of dollars for their clients. A dram shop lawyer will advocate for you and your rights. Please contact us for a free confidential case evaluation at (888) 525-3529 or submit an inquiry on this page to speak with a dram shop lawyer.