It’s Business, And It’s Personal

Dram shop laws and assigning fault to bar or retailer

On Behalf of | Mar 3, 2023 | Personal Injury |

It’s not easy to navigate the aftermath of an accident caused by someone else’s negligence.

A drunk driving accident could leave a victim with significant pain and suffering, making it difficult to focus on their legal rights because of their prominent injuries and damages. While drunk driving victims in North Carolina and elsewhere might understand that a legal suit could help hold a drunk driver accountable, they may not fully understand how other parties might be liable as well.

Understanding dram shop laws

Put simply, dram shop laws allow a victim of a drunk driving crash or the loved ones of a deceased victim to hold a bar or alcohol retailer liable for the damages caused by an intoxicated customer.

These laws are similar to social host liability laws, which place liability on a host of a private function due to their negligence in serving alcohol and failing to prevent an impaired guest from driving.

How to prove fault

The elements that must be proven to establish liability differ from state to state; however, most, if not all states, include the element of obvious intoxication. This implies that the retailer or bar knew or should have known that the individual was at a level of intoxication that more alcohol is likely to cause danger to them or to others.

North Carolina’s dram shop law provides that it is illegal for a bar to “knowingly” serve alcohol to an intoxicated person.

Those harmed by a drunk driver in North Carolina should understand the role this law plays when filing a civil action.

Although holding a drunk driver accountable for the injuries and damages suffered is the goal of a personal injury action, it is possible to hold other parties, such as a bar or alcohol retailer, liable for the accident as well. This can maximize the chances that the injured will be able to recover all the compensation they deserve.

It is important that a victim of a drunk driving crash fully understand their situation, rights and options when it comes to seeking damages for their injuries and losses.