Dram Shop Laws

The term Dram Shop Laws refers to legislation that governs the liability of liquor stores, bars and other commercial establishments that serve alcohol. These such laws may vary from state to state, but they usually serve to establish the liability of those establishments based on the sale of alcohol to visibly intoxicated people (or minors) who then go on to cause injury to others as a result of an alcohol-related accident.

These laws can also apply to a host or hostess serving alcohol at a private party or to a company hosting an event such a holiday party for its employees. Most of the laws require the injured person to provide evidence that if the alcohol had not been served or sold by the entity they are attempting to make a claim against, the accident would probably not have happened.

Supporters of these laws include groups such as Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD), who have pressed for their enactment and enforcement in the US, Canada, UK, Australia, and New Zealand. They believe that this type of legislation serves to protect the public from not only drunk drivers but also those who serve them the alcohol.

Some opponents of these laws complain that they undermine the idea of personal responsibility, and place an undue burden on those who serve alcohol; however, the intoxicated person is still the at-fault party and any lawsuit filed will name that person as a defendant unless a settlement has already been reached with his insurance company. The dram shop laws provide another opportunity for recovery.

Cases involving this type of claim fall under the same statute of limitations as ones without.

States that have dram shop laws include: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Washington, the District of Columbia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. States that DO NOT: Delaware, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Nebraska, Nevada, South Dakota, Virginia.

Even if you are injured as the result of an accident caused by a drunk driver in a state without a dram shop law, it is worth investigating where the driver became intoxicated; he may have been drinking down the road in different state that does have one. In such a case, the act that led to the tort-feasor's intoxication would fall under the rules applicable to that location.

Though the dram shop laws vary, you may have a claim against the entity that served alcohol to the tort-feasor in your accident if these basic elements exist in your case: an alcohol seller or vendor sold or served alcohol to an intoxicated person or a minor who then was the proximate cause of your injury. This is an instance where you may want to consult a personal injury attorney who will be able to verify whether or not you have a valid case against an alcohol establishment and proceed accordingly.

This article is written for informational purposes and is not intended to take the place of competent local legal counsel.

Other articles about liability and negligence issues:

Assumed Risk explained.

The Boulevard Rule explained.

Comparative Negligence explained.

Contributory Negligence explained.

The Intentional Act Exclusion explained.

Joint and Several Liability explained.

The Last Clear Chance Rule explained.

Mitigation of Damages explained.

Negligent Entrustment explained.

Punitive Damages explained.

from Dram Shop Laws to Insurance Claims Help For You

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