Georgia, like most states in the union, wants to raise the collective sense of responsibility for safety on the roads. To that end, it has instituted the Dram Shop Law, which holds if it can be proven that a business establishment served an obviously inebriated individual and knew they were going to drive, the establishment bears liability for the consequences of that action.
For those who are the victims of a DUI crash, it means they can sue not only the at-fault driver but also the supplier of the alcohol.
What is a dram?
The term “dram” derives from 18th century Britain, where alcohol was meted out by the dram, ¾ of a teaspoon, in pubs, taverns and the like. It wasn’t until the 19th century, though, that the perception arose of drunkenness as social menace and threat and temperance laws began to emerge.
A high bar
Proving negligence, however, on the part of the alcohol-serving establishment is a heavy lift. After all, how can a bartender really discern when it’s time to shut down a patron? How can they know the patron has keys to a car and will be driving?
Yet, it has been done . . .
In a catastrophic accident in another state in 1999, a girl was paralyzed when a drunk driver crashed into the car she was riding in. That driver had just been drinking heavily at a New York Giants football game. The jury found the concessionaire at the Giants’ Stadium shared in liability for the incident. The girl’s family was awarded $135 million.
The Dram Shop Law means it is possible to extend recourse past the at-fault driver. Although it is a hard case to prove, it can be done. If you’re dealing with this sort of situation, it’s essential to seek the assistance of effective counsel who will advocate aggressively on your behalf.