Dram Shop Lawsuits and Liability

What is a dram shop lawsuit?

If you’ve been injured by a drunk driver, drunken attacker, or the negligence of an intoxicated person dram shop laws enable you to sue and hold responsible those accountable for the damage you suffered. Dram shop laws impose liability on a business or person that serves or sells alcohol to someone who is clearly intoxicated or nearly intoxicated. Restaurants, bars, alcohol retailers or private individuals can all be held responsible, or liable, under dram shop laws. Private individuals who serve alcohol to minors or others who cause injuries to others can be held liable under dram shop lawsuits as well as what is known as “social host” lawsuits.

To succeed in a dram shop lawsuit, the injured person must prove that a business or private person served or sold the drunk driver alcohol while he or she was clearly in an intoxicated or near-intoxicated state. Not all states have dram shop laws, but most do.

How do dram shop laws work?

There are two types of dram shop lawsuits: first-party and third-party. Most states do not recognize first-party dram shop lawsuits in most circumstances, that is where the injured person was the drunken individual who caused the injury. Third-party cases are far more common and easier to win. In states which allow first-party dram shop lawsuits and in cases in which liability is found, the intoxicated person and the third party who sold or provided the alcohol often share the liability

  1. First-party dram shop lawsuits involve cases where the plaintiffs were served or sold alcohol, which resulted in an injury to the plaintiff. However, there is one major exception to the general rule in most states which prohibits first-party dram shop lawsuits; for minors.  When a minor who becomes drunk is subsequently injured, dram shop laws hold a bar, restaurant or individual who provides the minor with alcohol responsible.
  2. Third-party dram shop lawsuits involve a plaintiff injured due to another person’s alcohol consumption and actions. In third party dram shop lawsuits, the plaintiff must prove that the bar, restaurant or server/seller was negligent. Negligence in this context occurs when a server or seller knew or should have reasonably known that the injuring party was inebriated or close to being drunk.

Evidence in dram shop lawsuits usually consists of one or more of the following circumstances:

  • Proof of age was not requested of a minor
  • The person served appeared intoxicated
  • Alcohol was served after closing time
  • The person served was likely to become intoxicated based on what had previously been consumed

Under what is known as “safe harbor provisions,” some dram shop laws  protect servers and sellers if the establishment can demonstrate that servers attend an approved education course, encourage customers encouraged not to become intoxicated, promote nonalcoholic beverages, or encourage customers to take a taxi or rideshare service if they’ve had too much to drink. However, bars and restaurants have a very low success rate in asserting this defense.

What if I can’t pay my living expenses while injured?

If you find yourself a plaintiff in a dram shop case, be aware that in many cases the businesses and organizations that are defendants may have deep pockets. They can use delay tactics to force an injured plaintiff to settle for less than he or she deserves. If you have been injured by a drunk driver or negligence of someone intoxicated and are unable to pay regular bills or living expenses, you can take advantage of pre-settlement funding to make ends meet and focus on your recovery.

LawCash pre-settlement funding is a type of consumer litigation funding that helps level the playing field for plaintiffs by advancing you the money you need to pay living expenses and regular bills while waiting on your case to conclude. Pre-settlement funding is not a loan. If you don’t win or settle your case, you owe LawCash nothing!

LawCash is one of the nation’s top pre-settlement funding companies. For 20 years, we have provided litigation funding for plaintiffs to pay living expenses and bills during their case and have helped thousands of clients recover. Learn more about how LawCash pre-settlement funding can give you the financial freedom to recover as a plaintiff by reading our client testimonials. Call us or apply online today to find out if you are eligible for litigation funding.