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What is dram shop liability?

On Behalf of | May 7, 2020 | Car Accidents |

When a drunk driver causes an accident and injures innocent people, they are legally liable for those injuries under Kentucky civil law.

But the driver might not be the only one responsible. If the driver became intoxicated at a bar or restaurant before the crash, the establishment that overserved him or her could also be responsible for injuries.

Dram shop laws and drunk driving litigation

Like the vast majority of states, Kentucky has what is known as a “dram shop law.” A dram shop is an old-fashioned term for a business where beer, wine and/or spirits are served. In other words, places like bars, taverns, brewpubs and restaurants.

Under the dram shop law, these establishments have a legal duty not to serve alcohol to clearly intoxicated customers or let a drunk customer drive away.

This means if a dram shop’s owners, management or employees fail in their duty, and a customer hits you while driving drunk, you could have a claim against the establishment. Because the business’s insurance is likely to be higher than the collision insurance the drunk driver carries, you could stand a higher chance of collecting full compensation for damages such as lost wages, medical bills, and pain and suffering.

Note that Kentucky’s dram shop law applies only to businesses. Many states have “social host laws” that operate similarly to dram shop laws but apply to hosts of private functions like parties and weddings. Kentucky does not have a social host law.

Establishing a dram shop law claim

Proving that a dram shop was partly at fault for your injuries can be complicated. An experienced personal injury attorney will know how to review the evidence from your collision.

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