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Challenges You May Face With Dram Shop Laws

Law Blog

If an intoxicated motorist crashes into your car, you can use dram shop laws to pursue injury damages against the establishment that sold alcohol to the motorist. The dram shop laws only apply if the motorist was already intoxicated when they were served alcohol, and the server or bartender was aware (or should have been aware) of the fact. Still, you aren't guaranteed a straightforward win with dram shop laws, and you can still face challenges such as these three.

Proving the Server's Knowledge

One of the hardest things about using dram shop laws to pursue personal injury damages is the difficulty of proving that the bartender knew or should have known that the patron was already intoxicated. This is not an issue in all cases; for example, if a patron has bloodshot eyes, is staggering or has slurred speech, it's easy to conclude that they are intoxicated and deny them further drinks.

However, alcohol does not have the same effect on different people, and it is entirely possible for someone to be intoxicated without appearing so. In such a case, it will be very difficult for you to prove that the bartender or server knew or should have known that the person they were serving was already intoxicated.

Proving that the Patron Was Intoxicated

Another difficulty with dram shop laws is the fact that the same volume of alcohol will not produce the same effect in different people. You can take five glasses of wine and not appear intoxicated while another person may start staggering after four glasses of the same wine brand. In fact, even the same volume of alcohol can produce different effects on the same person on different days. For example, the same volume of alcohol that may not intoxicate you when you are well fed and rested may intoxicate you if you haven't had food the whole day and are tired.

Unfortunately, there is no way for servers to have this information. Therefore, even a bartender who is serving their regular customer may, unwittingly, serve them too much alcohol because the customer's alcohol tolerance is low for the day. As an injury victim, it can be difficult for you to unearth all these facts and tie them to the server's negligence.

Different Applications across States

Dram shop laws are determined and enforced at the state level, and states have different dram shop laws; there are even states without dram shop laws. This presents a unique challenge when one person is served too much alcohol in one state and then causes an accident in a state without dram shop laws. This is a challenge because the personal injury laws that govern the ensuing injury claim or lawsuit are the laws of the state in which the accident occurred, and not where the person took their alcohol. This means it may be impossible for you to pursue injury claims against the liable establishment or bartender.

For more information, visit websites like http://www.truelawky.com.


27 January 2018