Liquor Liability & Drunk Driving

Drunk Driving Accidents: 

  • Whether a car, truck, motorcycle, boat or recreational vehicle is involved in an accident where the operator was under the influence of alcohol or drugs, drunk driving issues are raised. A person injured or killed by a drunk driver has a claim for damages against the drunk driver and vehicle owner.

  • DUI or "driving under the influence" includes driving under the influence of drugs, even drugs that the operator had a prescription for. The law imposes liability upon any person driving under the influence no matter what the cause.

  • When prescription drugs have unintended side effects on the operator of a vehicle and result in a motor vehicle accident and personal injuries, the manufacturer of the drug may be liable under a "products liability" theory. (For more information, go to "Practice Areas" under the main menu, click on "Personal Injury Claims" and then scroll down the alphabetical list to the "Products Liability" link.) 

 
 
 

       For informational purposes only. Always consult an attorney to obtain competent legal advice.

 

Dram Shop Claims:

  • Any party injured by a drunk driver may also have a "dram shop" claim (a "dram" was a traditional measure for a shot of whiskey) against any liquor-licensed establishment, such as a bar or restaurant, that served alcoholic beverages to the drunk driver prior to the accident.

  • "Dram Shop" claims can significantly increase the amount of potential insurance coverage available to pay any claims. Therefore, this avenue should be fully explored by the attorney representing any party injured by a drunk driver. 

  • Police officers investigating drunk driving accidents are trained to note on the police report the last place in which the drunk driver consumed any alcoholic beverages. If available, this information can assist an attorney in determining if a dram shop claim may be brought against an establishment that served the drunk driver.

  • Proving a liquor liability claim ordinarily requires a particularly thorough investigation of the facts leading up the accident, including the degree of intoxication of the drunk driver at the time he or she was served alcohol.

Social Host Claims:

  • Ordinarily, a private person, or "social host", who serves alcoholic beverages to guests at his or her home is not liable in the event that a guest leaving the party causes injury to another as a result of a drunk driving accident. However, there are exceptions to this rule; for example, when a private party knowingly serves drinks to minors who are then involved in an accident.

  • Private persons can be held responsible for social host claims in certain circumstances. Therefore, this avenue should be explored by any attorney investigating a drunk driving accident.