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In many states, dram shop liability laws hold bars, restaurants, and other establishments that serve alcohol responsible for the actions of their intoxicated patrons. These laws encourage responsible alcohol service and protect the public from drunk driving and alcohol-related accidents.
If a Dram shop’s negligence injured you or a loved one, consult a Dram shop liability lawyer. A seasoned attorney will fight for you to receive just compensation for your injuries.
Negligent alcohol service is a serious matter, and all our attorneys several of whom are former prosecutors are steadfast in their commitment to seeing each client receive justice.
Different Features of Dram Shop Liability Laws
Dram shop liability laws vary from state to state. Some states handle personal injury cases involving dram shops according to the legal principle of strict liability; others according to the principle of negligence; and still others depending on whether the relevant parties have met specific conditions for liability.
States With Strict Liability Laws
Strict liability means that an establishment is responsible for the actions of an intoxicated patron, regardless of whether it was negligent in its alcohol service.
In strict liability states, plaintiffs can hold businesses financially responsible for injuries and damages their intoxicated customers cause, without the need to prove specific negligence on the part of the establishment.
States With Negligence-based Laws
Negligence refers to the failure of an establishment to exercise reasonable care in serving alcohol to customers.
Businesses in negligence-based states can only face liability for the actions of their intoxicated patrons if the plaintiff can prove that the establishment breached a duty of care by, for example, overserving an already visibly intoxicated customer.
States With Specific Conditions for Liability
Some states impose specific conditions that an establishment must meet to face liability under dram shop laws. These conditions may include serving alcohol to minors, serving alcohol after legal hours, or failing to take steps to prevent intoxicated patrons from driving.
In these states, liability depends on whether the business violated the particular conditions that the state’s dram shop statute imposes.
Comparative Negligence and Dram Shop Liability
Comparative negligence applies when both the injured party and the establishment serving alcohol may share responsibility for the harm an intoxicated patron caused. Under comparative law, the injured party can still recover damages. Your lawyer can plan a legal strategy that maximizes the damages you can recover.
Colorado law generally operates under the principle of comparative negligence. Colorado’s specific dram shop liability law determines whether you have a case. An experienced personal injury attorney familiar with your state’s dram shop laws can navigate the complexities of these cases for you.
Establishing Liability in Dram Shop Cases
Your attorney can establish liability and determine the strength of your dram shop case and the steps you may take to recover compensation.
Common factors in establishing a dram shop’s negligence include:
Overserving refers to serving alcohol to a patron beyond the point of visible intoxication or in a manner that contributes to their intoxication. Establishments must monitor their customers and stop serving those who appear intoxicated.
In many states with negligence-based dram shop laws, proving that an establishment overserved a patron is essential to demonstrating liability. Your attorney can gather evidence, such as witness statements, surveillance footage, and employee interviews, to show that the establishment failed to exercise reasonable care in serving alcohol to the intoxicated individual.
Visible intoxication is a state in which a patron exhibits signs of intoxication that are obvious to a reasonable observer. Visible intoxication signs may include slurred speech, an unsteady gait, or impaired motor skills.
Demonstrating that a customer was visibly intoxicated when a business served them alcohol can be critical to proving liability in a dram shop case. In fact, Colorado has a specific law allowing damages for selling liquor to an intoxicated person.
Your attorney can collect evidence and show that the establishment should have recognized the patron’s intoxication and ceased alcohol service, thus preventing the eventual harm the intoxicated customer caused.
Causation refers to the link between a business’s negligent alcohol service and the harm the injured party suffered. In a dram shop case, the injured party may have to prove that the establishment’s actions directly contributed to the intoxicated patron’s actions, which caused the injury or harm.
Proving causation is often crucial to establishing liability in a dram shop case. Your attorney can gather evidence and expert testimony to demonstrate the causal link between the establishment’s actions and the harm you suffered as the injured party.
A knowledgeable personal injury attorney can tackle the complex and challenging dram shop process, establish liability, and give your case the best chance of success.
Damages in Dram Shop Liability Cases
You can seek several types of damages in your dram shop liability case. Your attorney will be in the best position to advise you on which specific types to pursue.
Here are common damages a drunk driving accident lawyer can recover for you:
In a successful dram shop liability case, the court may award the injured party damages to cover medical expenses incurred because of the incident. This may include costs for hospital stays, surgeries, medications, physical therapy, and ongoing treatment or rehabilitation.
The injured party may seek damages for lost income if they could not work due to their injuries. This may include compensation for the income lost during the recovery period or for lost earning capacity if the injured party is unable to return to work following the incident.
Pain and Suffering
Besides medical expenses and lost income, injured parties may also seek damages for pain and suffering. This category of damages compensates individuals for the physical and emotional distress their injuries caused and the subsequent affect on their quality of life.
Other Damages Relating to the Injury or Accident
Depending on the specifics of the case, injured parties may seek additional damages, such as property damage, loss of consortium, or punitive damages. The court determines these damages on a case-by-case basis, and they may vary depending on factors such as the severity of the injuries and the negligence the establishment displayed.
Third-party Liability in Dram Shop Cases
Third-party liability refers to the legal responsibility of a party other than the injured party or the intoxicated patron for damages resulting from an incident. In the context of dram shop liability, third-party liability usually pertains to the establishment that served alcohol to the intoxicated individual.
There are several situations in which the principle of third-party liability may apply, such as:
Drunk Driving Accidents
Drunk driving accidents are, unfortunately, frequent in Colorado. In fact, one study indicates that an estimated 32 percent of all fatally injured drivers of passenger vehicles had a blood alcohol concentration of greater than 0.08 percent.
In cases where a patron becomes intoxicated at an establishment and subsequently causes a drunk driving accident, the business may face liability for damages. This can include injuries the victim sustains, property damage, or even wrongful death if the accident results in fatalities.
If a violent, intoxicated patron injures another individual in a bar fight, the plaintiff may hold the establishment responsible for the victim’s injuries. This can occur if the business continues to serve alcohol to the visibly intoxicated individual, contributing to their aggressive behavior.
Other Incidents Resulting From the Patron’s Intoxication
Besides drunk driving accidents and bar fights, there are various other situations in which an establishment may face liability for damages an intoxicated patron caused. This can include slip-and-fall accidents, alcohol poisoning, or any other harm the plaintiff can trace back to the business’s negligent service of alcohol.
Understanding the nuances of third-party liability in dram shop cases is essential for both establishments and individuals. Knowing these legal responsibilities can help businesses maintain a safer environment for their customers, reduce the risk of costly legal claims, and protect their reputation within the community.
For injured parties, understanding these laws and working with a skilled attorney can secure justice and compensation after an alcohol-related incident.
Consult With an Experienced Attorney for Your Dram Shop Liability Case
Dram shop liability laws serve as a crucial legal framework for holding establishments accountable for the negligent service of alcohol to their patrons. These laws vary across states, with some states enforcing strict liability, negligence-based liability, or specific conditions for liability.
Since Colorado has its own dram shop laws, seeking the assistance of an experienced personal injury attorney in the state for advice and guidance on how to proceed is vital.
Your attorney can determine the extent of the establishment’s liability, gather evidence to prove overserving or visible intoxication, and demonstrate causation linking the business’s negligence to the sustained injuries.
Your attorney can also navigate the complexities of third-party liability and advocate for fair compensation in cases involving drunk driving accidents, bar fights, or other incidents resulting from the patron’s intoxication.
To mitigate the risks concerning dram shop liability, establishments should implement measures to prevent overserving and ensure responsible alcohol service to their patrons. This may include providing employees with adequate training in identifying signs of intoxication, implementing policies to limit the service of alcohol to visibly intoxicated customers, and promoting the consumption of non-alcoholic beverages.
By taking proactive measures, businesses can reduce the likelihood of facing liability in a dram shop case while also providing a safer environment for their patrons and the surrounding community.
You may, nevertheless, suffer the effects of an injury due to a dram shop’s negligent service of alcohol. If that’s the case, don’t delay! Reach out to a knowledgeable personal injury attorney in Denver as soon as possible. They can explore your options with you. Through their guidance, you can minimize the consequences of the alcohol-related incident and receive the just compensation you deserve.