Dram Shop

When an intoxicated person causes a wrongful death in a drunk driving accident or injures someone in a fight, the victim or loved ones may sue the intoxicated person directly for the personal injury.

Sometimes, liability for the car crash or personal injury extends to a third party, especially if an establishment served an obviously intoxicated adult or any minor. Another legal recourse is to invoke a state’s dram shop statute. The term “dram shop” originates from a time when drinking establishments were known as “shops” and a dram was the usual measure of alcohol.

Dram shop laws serve as a deterrent to individuals, stores, bars, nightclubs and restaurants that are tempted to illegally or negligently provide alcohol: Responsibility doesn’t end when someone walks out your door.

State dram shop statutes vary. A Wisconsin law and the Illinois Dram Shop Act, whose formal title is the Illinois Liquor Control Act, address such legal responsibility. The two states impose different limits on a victim’s ability to recover financial damages.

In Illinois, a victim has one year to sue in a dram shop action the vendor, the business owner, or the owner of the property that sells alcohol for profit. Strictly speaking, proof of illegal or negligent conduct may not be required. The claim must establish that a party’s actions contributed in some way to the injury or wrongful death.

If you have been injured in a drunk driver crash or by someone who clearly was intoxicated at the time of your injury, the personal injury lawyers at ZRFM can help you understand how the details of dram shop law may affect your legal strategy.