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Can you hold a bar liable for a drunk driver’s actions?

On Behalf of | Nov 2, 2023 | Dram Shop Act, DUI Accidents

After you have been injured by a drunk driver, you need all the help you can get to deal with your medical expenses and other damages. If you’ve been seriously injured, the expenses can last for the rest of your life and you may never be able to return to the kind of income you had before the crash.

A personal injury lawsuit is meant to — as much as possible — restore you to the position you were in before your injury. Of course, it cannot turn back time, but ideally it should compensate you for what you have lost.

To do that, you must first identify who to hold liable for your damages. And the list of liable parties doesn’t necessarily stop with the drunk driver. In some cases, you may be able to attach liability to the person or business that got the driver drunk.

Dram shop law

Under Georgia’s dram shop law, those who sell or serve alcohol to a driver who later injures another person in a DUI accident can be held liable for the injured person’s damages. However, the law applies only under certain circumstances.

The law does not apply to cases in which the driver was of legal drinking age and did not appear intoxicated. In other words, the dram shop act typically won’t apply to a case involving a bar that checks patrons’ ID cards to make sure they’re of legal age and does not serve alcohol to a patron who is noticeably drunk while knowing that the person is going to drive a motor vehicle.

Instead, the law applies in cases involving:

  • A person who knowingly and illegally sells or serves alcohol to person who is not of legal drinking age, knowing that the person is going to be driving.
  • A person who knowingly sells or serves alcohol to a person who is noticeably drunk, knowing that the person will soon get behind the wheel.

Expanding liability

As you can see, the dram shop law applies under fairly specific circumstances. These cases can be difficult to win. Still, they can be crucial in making sure that the injured get the resources they need to cope with life-changing injuries.