A drunk driving accident can be catastrophic. Fortunately, Ohio dram shop laws allow victims to file claims against the driver who caused the accident. But what about the establishment that overserved them? Is the establishment responsible? Under Ohio’s dram shop liability laws, you might be able to hold the establishment responsible.
If you believe you have a valid case, call Gallon, Takacs, Boissoneault & Schaffer Co. L.P.A. today: 419-843-6663.
What is a dram shop?
A “dram shop” is a commercial establishment that, in the ordinary course of business, serves alcoholic beverages to the public.
Bars, taverns, beer gardens, wineries, and restaurants are examples of commercial establishments considered dram shops.
When can I file a claim against an establishment under Ohio’s Dram Shop Laws?
Under Ohio’s Dram Shop Act, establishments are liable for property damage, injuries, or deaths that occur off their property, if:
- The establishment knowingly sold alcohol to a person who was visibility intoxicated (e.g., staggering, bloodshot eyes, slurring, sleepy, belligerent) or underage.
- The accident occurred on the property (e.g., bar fight, parking lot car accident, if an intoxicated person slips and hits someone else, etc.)
If the accident did not occur on the premises or you cannot prove the bartender knew the person was intoxicated or underage, you can prove that “the person’s intoxication proximately caused the personal injury, death, or property damage.”
How does the law hold an establishment liable for someone else’s actions?
Ohio’s Dram Shop Act imposes liability on the holder of a liquor permit or an employee of the holder if an intoxicated person’s negligence causes injury to a third person off the premises.
An establishment can also be liable for injuries or deaths that occur on the property if an employee’s negligent or malicious behavior caused the injury.
What do I need to prove to win a dram shop liability claim?
To win your dram shop liability case, we will need to prove:
- The person was visibly intoxicated or underage. (Proving visible intoxication can be difficult, but we can use surveillance footage or eyewitness accounts to prove the bartender knew or should have known the driver was intoxicated.)
- Despite being visibly intoxicated, the permit holder or an employee knowingly and directly served the person alcohol.
- The intoxicated person left the premises (or the accident occurred on the premises).
- While off the premises, the intoxicated person caused harm to another person.
What damages can I recover in my dram shop case?
If your dram shop claim is successful, you can recover any of the following:
- Medical bills
- Long-term or permanent impairment or disability
- Lost wages
- Lower earning or career potential
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Loss of consortium
- Property damage
- Funeral expenses, loss of guidance, loss of consortium, etc. (if the accident resulted in the victim’s death)
You might also be entitled to punitive damages if you can prove the establishment was egregiously negligent. Consider the following: Person A is so intoxicated they are falling asleep at the bar. They ask the bartender for another drink before they leave for the night. If the establishment serves them despite their obvious intoxication and lets them drive away, the establishment could be facing punitive damages for the egregious neglect.
What if the driver was overserved at a friend’s house, not a bar?
Under Ohio’s social host laws, you will likely not be able to hold a “social host” (e.g., people who furnish alcohol at their home) liable for any injuries.
However, there are exceptions. You may be able to hold a “social host” liable if they knowingly:
- Served a minor
- Allowed a minor to drink on their property
If the driver was older than 21, you cannot hold a social host liable.
How can a lawyer help me with my case?
A dram shop liability case can be difficult to prove. Drunk driving accidents can lead to catastrophic injuries and high medical bills. For this reason — and because the establishment could lose its liquor license — the establishment will fight with all it has against your accusations.
Our drunk driving accident lawyers have years of experience handling dram shop liability cases. We are accomplished at obtaining the evidence needed to prove your case and can get you the financial compensation you deserve.
If you were injured by a drunk driver who left an establishment prior to your crash, you may have a dram shop claim in addition to your claim against the drunk driver.
Where can I get help with my claim?
Dram shop cases involve pursuing your claim against multiple parties. These are complex legal claims. You will want to be in good hands when navigating the process of these complicated claims.
Call Gallon, Takacs, Boissoneault & Schaffer Co., L.P.A. today at 419-843-6663 to set up your free, no obligation consultation with one of our dram shop liability lawyers. Remember, we never charge a fee unless you receive a recovery, so your consultation is truly risk-free.