Ohio’s Dram Shop laws compensate victims involved in drunk driving accidents. Establishments that overserve these drivers may be held accountable under Ohio’s dram shop liability laws. Dram shop laws hold alcohol servers responsible for serving visibly intoxicated individuals. Legislators implemented this legislation in the late 1980s to address the high number of alcohol-related accidents and fatalities. If someone sustains injuries or loses their life due to being served alcohol at a dram shop, they have the right to pursue legal action against the establishment for damages. Commonly known as the Dram Shop Act, this law aims to promote safety and responsibility in alcohol service.


What is a dram shop?


A dram shop is a place that serves alcoholic beverages to the public, such as bars, taverns, and restaurants. These establishments can be held accountable for damages caused by their patrons through dram shop liability. They are accountable if it can be proven that they served alcohol to someone who was visibly intoxicated or underage.


Visibly Intoxicated: Establishment’s Right to Refuse Service


As a patron of a dram shop, it’s crucial to understand your rights and responsibilities. If you become visibly intoxicated, the establishment can refuse to serve you alcohol. If they continue serving you and you have an accident, you may be able to sue them. However, you must prove that they served you alcohol despite your visible intoxication.


The Dram Shop Act: Responsibility of Establishments and Hosts


The Dram Shop Act pertains to alcohol-serving establishments and hosts in private settings. As a host, you are accountable for stopping guests from driving while intoxicated. If you serve alcohol to someone visibly drunk and they cause a driving accident, you may be liable for damages.


How does the law establish liability for an establishment regarding someone else’s actions?


The Ohio Dram Shop Act holds liquor permit holders and employees responsible when an intoxicated person’s negligence injures a third party off the premises. Drunk driving accident victims can hold establishments accountable for injuries caused by intoxicated individuals. For example, if a bar employee serves alcohol to a visibly drunk customer who later causes an accident, the victim can seek damages from the bar. Establishments may also be liable for on-site injuries resulting from employee misconduct or negligence. Violating the Dram Shop Act or related laws can lead to legal action, including monetary damages and loss of operating permits. Thus, establishments must prioritize employee training on alcohol service regulations and maintaining a safe customer environment.


When can an individual file a claim against an establishment under Ohio’s Dram Shop Laws?


Under Ohio’s Dram Shop Act, establishments can be held accountable if they knowingly sell alcohol to visibly intoxicated or underage individuals. Bartenders have a duty to protect patrons and others from drunk driving. The establishment may also be responsible for on-premises accidents, like bar fights or parking lot car accidents.

To establish liability in off-premises accidents or when proving visible intoxication or underage status is difficult, it’s crucial to show that the person’s intoxication caused personal injury, death, or property damage. Gathering evidence such as surveillance footage, eyewitness accounts, and receipts can strengthen your case.

A personal injury attorney can help you build a strong argument for your claim and seek maximum compensation. They will guide you through the complex process of Ohio’s Dram Shop Act and help you pursue justice.


What do I need to prove to win a dram shop liability claim?


To win a dram shop liability case, you need to establish key elements. Firstly, proving the individual causing harm was visibly intoxicated or underage is crucial. This can be supported by surveillance footage or eyewitness testimony to show that the bartender knew or should have known about the intoxication.

Secondly, you must prove that, despite their visible intoxication, the permit holder or employee knowingly served alcohol to the individual. This can be challenging to establish, but it’s crucial. Showing that the bartender was aware or should have been aware of the intoxication strengthens your case.

Thirdly, demonstrating that the intoxicated person either left the establishment or the accident occurred on the premises is important. Holding the establishment accountable becomes more challenging if the individual left.

Lastly, establishing that the intoxicated person directly caused harm to another person while off the premises is vital. This element is pivotal as it forms the basis for a dram shop liability claim.


What damages can I recover in my dram shop case?


1. Compensatory Damages: Compensatory damages aim to compensate the victim for their injuries and losses, including medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. In a dram shop case, you can claim compensatory damages for similar losses and other injury-related expenses like rehabilitation, physical therapy, and home care.

2. Punitive Damages: Punitive damages seek to punish the responsible party for their misconduct and discourage similar behavior. In a dram shop case, punitive damages may apply if the bar, tavern, or restaurant served alcohol to visibly intoxicated or underage individuals. Punitive damages can be substantial and sometimes exceed compensatory damages.

3. Loss of Consortium: Loss of consortium damages compensate the victim’s spouse, children, or loved ones for the loss of companionship, affection, and support resulting from the accident. These damages can be awarded in addition to the victim’s damages and are crucial when the victim experiences severe injury or disability.

4. Wrongful Death: If the drunk driving accident leads to the victim’s demise, their family may pursue a wrongful death claim. In a dram shop case, the family can seek damages for funeral expenses, loss of financial support, loss of companionship, and other losses. Wrongful death claims involve complexities, so it is important to consult an experienced attorney for guidance through the legal process.


What if the driver had been overserved at a friend’s house rather than a bar?


Understanding Dram Shop laws is crucial. These laws hold businesses accountable for serving alcohol to visibly intoxicated individuals or those under 21. In Ohio, Social Host Liability laws extend this responsibility to individuals hosting events or parties where alcohol is served. Businesses are always held responsible, and individuals can also be liable if they knowingly or recklessly serve alcohol to an already intoxicated person.

In cases involving an overserved driver, we first investigate whether the host was aware of the driver’s intoxication. If the host knew or should have known about the driver’s state and continued to provide alcohol, they can be held liable for damages resulting from the drunk driving accident. These damages may include medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, among others.

Proving Social Host Liability in Ohio can be challenging because private individuals are not required to have alcohol-serving training or certifications like businesses. Additionally, tracking alcohol consumption in a private setting is more difficult than in a bar or restaurant. It is essential to work with an experienced Ohio personal injury attorney. They understand the nuances of these cases and know how to gather evidence to establish liability.

Another challenge is determining the proportionate responsibility between the host and the driver. Ohio applies comparative negligence, dividing damages based on each party’s level of fault in the accident. Even if the drunk driver was the primary cause of the collision, they may still be accountable for a significant portion of the damages.


Get the Justice You Deserve: Pursue a Dram Shop Claim


If you or someone you know has been injured or lost a loved one due to the actions of an intoxicated individual, seeking legal recourse is crucial. Pursuing a claim under Ohio’s Dram Shop Act ensures accountability for the responsible party and provides necessary compensation for recovery. Our experienced attorneys can assess your case, explore options, and guide you through the complex process of navigating dram shop cases involving multiple parties. Schedule a free consultation with Gallon, Takacs & Boissoneault today at 419-843-6663 or by using our online contact form.