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Dram Shop Law Allows Drunk Driving Victims to Sue Alcohol Servers

 Posted on April 13, 2018 in Motor Vehicle Accidents

Dram Shop Law Allows Drunk Driving Victims to Sue Alcohol ServersMotor vehicle accidents involving intoxicated drivers can cause serious injuries and death. The victim in a drunk driving crash can sue the driver for personal injury compensation and the loss of a loved one. There is a third-party liability in Illinois that can extend to businesses that serve alcohol to drunk drivers. Illinois’ dram shop law allows a victim to receive additional injury compensation by filing a lawsuit against an alcohol vendor that is deemed partially responsible for a drunk driving incident.

Proving Liability

Illinois’ dram shop law applies to restaurants, clubs, retailers, and hospitality businesses. In most cases, an individual serving alcohol at a social gathering is not liable. For a successful lawsuit against a third-party alcohol vendor, the victim must prove that:

  • The driver of the other vehicle was intoxicated at the time of the incident;
  • The intoxication caused the crash and subsequent injuries to the victim;
  • The vendor served alcohol to the driver before the crash; and
  • The alcohol served contributed to the driver’s intoxication.

The claimant may need to present witnesses who can testify that the vendor served alcohol to the liable party when he or she was already noticeably intoxicated.

Types of Damages

The claimant in a dram shop lawsuit can seek compensation for:

  • Personal injury;
  • Property damage; and 
  • Either damage to means of support or loss of society.

Victims can recover damages for each of these categories separately. More than one alcohol vendor can be liable, though the claimant's combined damages collected from all the businesses cannot exceed the maximum damages allowed for each category. Loss of support and loss of society relate to wrongful death lawsuits, and the claimant can choose only one when suing for wrongful death. Damage to means of support applies when the person who died was a major provider for the victim. Loss of society applies when a person’s death is the loss of a companion or confidant.

Recent Example

In March, an Illinois court awarded $37.5 million to a claimant in a dram shop lawsuit. A strip club was held liable for selling alcohol to a man who was later involved in a drunk driving crash. There were two victims in the case: a man who was permanently disabled as a result of the crash, and his wife who died as a result of the crash.

Your Recovery

There are several costs associated with suffering a serious injury after a vehicle crash. Your medical treatments and continued rehabilitation are expensive, but you are also dealing with a possible loss of income and quality of life. A Barrington, Illinois, personal injury attorney at Joseph M. Lucas & Associates, LLC, can help you obtain financial compensation for the injuries you have suffered. Schedule a consultation by calling 847-381-8700.


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