A dram shop claim often represents one component of a vehicular accident case involving a DUI or DWI. For example, if you were injured by a drunk driver to whom a bar sold alcohol when he or she was obviously intoxicated, your dram shop claim would be against that bar. In fact, even if the accident is the persons fault who drank the intoxicating alcohol, on some occasions the entity who served the alcohol can still be held accountable.
One American dies every 30 minutes in an alcohol-related traffic crash, meaning that drunk driving shows its face in 41 percent of the country’s traffic fatalities. Three in every ten Americans will be involved in an alcohol-related crash at some time in their lives. States enacted “dram shop” laws to help prevent some of these tragedies.
What is a Dram Shop?
In 18th Century England, thousands of so-called “gin-shops” sold homemade gin by the dram (about a spoonful). When the King of England decided to tax the sale of gin, these “dram shops” quickly went underground in an effort to avoid paying taxes. Today’s legal system considers any establishment selling liquor illegally as a modern day equivalent of these “dram shops” of the 1700’s.
Furthermore, the law holds these establishments responsible for the dangerous actions of an intoxicated person when they have illegally sold liquor to that person. In addition to bars and liquor stores, these establishments can include restaurants, social clubs, and even private events, public events, stadiums, golf courses, shooting outings and any place where liquor is sold.
When are Dram Shops Liable?
Generally, dram shops are liable when they have violated a law or regulation in the state where the liquor was served. While selling liquor to an obviously intoxicated customer represents the most common dram shop violation, the illegal sale of intoxicating beverages can take other forms, such as:
- Selling alcohol without a license to do so;
- Selling alcohol after hours; or
- Selling alcohol to a minor.
Our accident lawyers can help you determine if a dram shop violation played a role in your car, van, motorcycle or bicycle accident.
Dram shop laws vary state by state. While a few states impose no dram shop liability or restrict that liability to cases involving sales to minors or known alcoholics, most states do recognize some form of dram shop liability.
How Will We Protect Your Rights?
In order to protect your rights, we act quickly when pursuing a dram shop case. Verifying the obvious intoxication of a patron often relies on the eyewitness testimony of employees and other patrons who were present. By locating and interviewing these witnesses quickly, we avoid potentially losing track of the witnesses as well as the possible blurring of memory as time passes.
The statute of limitations governing the dram shop portion of an accident case can differ from those that apply to the rest of the case. If a dram shop claim is not made within that time frame, you can potentially lose the right to pursue the claim at all.
To contact The Pisanchyn Law Firm about a potential dram shop claim, call toll-free at 1-800-444-5309 or fill in our online-consultation form.