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What are Dram Shop Laws?

On Behalf of | Jul 1, 2015 | Firm News

When an innocent motorist is struck by a drunk driver, who does he have a right to sue? The answer may not be as simple as you may imagine. The drunk driver, of course, can be targeted with a personal injury lawsuit. But depending on the circumstances, the victim may be able to seek compensation from additional parties.
One party that could be liable in a drunk driving accident is the establishment that served alcohol to the drunk driver. According to a set of statues known as “dram shop laws,” when an establishment that serves alcohol (known as a “dram shop”) overserves a patron, the establishment becomes partially liable for any injuries that person causes later – even after the patron leaves the dram shop.
Dram shop cases are often similar. In many instances, a staff member at a bar or restaurant serves, and continues to serve, alcohol to a patron is obviously intoxicated. That patron eventually leaves the dram shop and gets behind the wheel of his or her car. A drunk driving accident occurs, and a third party is injured. The third party then has the ability to sue both the drunk driver and the dram shop for negligence.
The reasoning behind dram shop laws is simple. Dram shop laws recognize that by overserving a patron, the establishment is creating a dangerous situation – one that could obviously lead to harm for either the patron or an innocent party. By creating this situation, the dram shop becomes partially responsible for the outcomes.
Dram shop cases can be challenging, as bars and restaurants often push hard against the charges laid against them. For this reason, it is advisable to move forward with the assistance of an experienced personal injury attorney.
If you have been injured by a drunk driver, the attorneys at Tipp & Buley can help. To schedule a one-on-one consultation with one of our skilled lawyers, call our Missoula law office at 406-389-4215 or visit our website.