Alcohol Liability

Alcohol Liability

Alcohol is the cause of too many injuries and deaths. It is obvious that someone who drives drunk and injures someone is responsible for that accident and any harm that is caused. Driving drunk is one of the clearest ways that a person violates the law.

Should the bar, store, or host of a party also share fault after the person they over-serve injures another innocent bystander? Most states say yes. States that say yes have dram shop laws or liquor liability laws that outline all the requirements needed to successfully prove that the bar or distributor of alcohol broke the law. In Utah, for example, the law is found under Utah Code Annotated § 32B-15-201. This sections states that a person or company who distributes alcohol is liable if:

“Those actions cause the intoxication of an individual under the age of 21 years; an individual who is apparently under the influence of intoxicating alcoholic products or drugs; an individual whom the person furnishing the alcoholic product knew or should have known from the circumstances was under the influence of intoxicating alcoholic products or drugs; or an individual who is a known interdicted person; and the injury or death … results from the intoxication of the individual who is provided the alcoholic product.”

Only a few states do not have dram shop or liquor liability statutes: Delaware, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Nebraska, Nevada, South Dakota and Virginia.

If you are injured in an accident, and at least one of the people at fault was under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you may have a claim against the person or entity that served the alcohol. Oftentimes, the person driving drunk does not have enough auto insurance to compensate you for your injuries. Therefore, you will need to recover from another source, which may the person or company responsible for overserving the intoxicated person that caused your injuries. At Jensen Law, we have helped numerous injured clients go up against the irresponsible servers of alcohol to get them the compensation they are entitled to.

One of the most critical pieces of evidence in dram shop cases is the Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of the intoxicated driver. Obviously, the higher the BAC at the time of the accident, the better shot you have at showing the bar or server should have known the person was drunk. The BAC is obtained through a breathalyzer test or blood test. Investigating officers may also perform a Field Sobriety Tests to determine level of intoxication. If a warrant is required to obtain the BAC of the suspect, then some time may pass before a BAC level is determined. In this event, a toxicology expert will need to determine what the suspect’s BAC would have been at the time of the accident, working backwards from the time the BAC was determined.

To succeed on a dram shop case, your attorney needs a detailed, accurate timeline of events. Oftentimes, the drunk driver drank at multiple establishments or obtained alcohol from multiple places. When this happens, your attorney will first need to verify each location of service, then subpoena all sales transaction information from each location. If the drunk driver paid with a card, his or her bank statements must be subpoenaed.

In addition to gathering all the necessary documents, your attorney will need to interview numerous witnesses: waiters, bar tenders, other customers, friends, family members, witnesses of the accident, bar owners, or investigating officers. It’s not uncommon to have more than 15-20 important witnesses to these cases.

Do not wait to hire Jensen Law if you’ve been injured by a drunk driver. The evidence disappears quickly and memories fade. Waiting will only make your case more difficult.

If you have suffered an alcohol liability due to negligence, please contact our law firm to discuss compensation.

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