What Are Dram Shop Laws?

Although bartenders are not supposed to serve liquor to obviously intoxicated people, it happens every day. Most bartenders work off of tips and they do not want to anger regular customers who may threaten to take their business elsewhere if they are not served. Some of those bibulous customers are likely to get into accidents or bar fights.

330 people died in alcohol-related crashes in 2017 in the state of Illinois and it is not something that bars should take lightly. Dram shop laws hold businesses responsible when they serve drinks to minors or to people who are visibly inebriated.

If you have been injured in a car accident by a drunk driver, you may not only be able to collect insurance money from the at-fault driver’s insurance but collect damages from the bar that served that person alcohol in the first place.

If you were injured by a belligerent drunk in a bar or restaurant. It may be the restaurant that is liable.

Dram Shop Act 

A dram shop is any business that sells alcoholic beverages. The name Dram comes from a unit of measurement used by apothecaries in the 1800s. A dram is 1/8 of a fluid ounce. The Dram Shop Act itself says that individual states can hold an establishment responsible for serving drunk patrons.

The laws are always enacted by the state and they vary from place to place. In Illinois, the dram shop law is called the Liquor Control Act. 

Suing a Dram Shop

If you want to sue someone under the Liquor Control Act, you would have to establish that a person who hurt you or caused the death of your loved one was inebriated at the time that they committed the offence. You would have to prove that the accident or injury was caused in part because the person was drunk. You would also have to show that the person who caused you to harm was served liquor when they were at the shop. 

For example, if someone beats another restaurant patron up as the result of being drunk or sexually harasses or assaults someone when they are on the way home from a bar, the victim may be able to sue the bar. If a person is killed by an inebriated bar patron, the surviving family members may be able to sue the bar for loss of society. 

Finding an Attorney

As you may have gleaned, establishing a preponderance of evidence in a Dram Shop case may be challenging. It is very hard to prove what a drunk person may or may not have done when they were sober. It may also be hard to prove the bar was negligent in such a case.

If the bar served liquor to a minor and did not bother to check that person’s ID, it may be fairly easy to establish that the bar was at fault. However, it may be hard to prove that a bartender knew someone was drunk. 

It will take an astute team of car accident lawyers to work on a Dram Shop case. The attorney you hire should be well versed in personal injury law. They should have a stellar success rate and they should have worked on similar cases in the past.

Alcohol takes the lives of many people every day. A business that does not serve it responsibly should have to pay for their actions.

Authoritative Sources