How Dram Shop Liability Impacts Your Claim
When someone chooses to drink and then get behind the wheel, they are putting everyone on the road with them at risk. Sadly, many drivers still make these dangerous decisions and cause tragic accidents. However, legally they may not be the only party responsible for the inevitable accident. According to dram shop liability laws in Georgia, the bar, liquor store, or restaurant that served the drunk driver could also be considered liable.
Dram Shop Liability and Georgia Law
Many states have dram shop liability laws, and Georgia is no different. These laws allow for victims of drunk drivers to file a claim against the business that served the at-fault driver if they caused an auto accident so long as a few key factors are present. These include:
- The business knowingly served alcohol to a minor under the age of 21.
- The business knowingly served alcohol to a patron that was clearly already overly intoxicated.
- The business served a patron they knew would be driving home or neglected to inform proper authorities when it became clear the intoxicated patron was driving a car.
The key aspect in each of these scenarios is that the business knew that they were acting in a potentially negligent manner. If there is no evidence that the business knew they were serving an overly intoxicated person, a minor, or that the intoxicated patron intended to drive, then they may not be considered liable. However, an experienced auto accident attorney will know exactly where to look for useful evidence.
When Bars and Liquor Stores Are Liable
Getting compensation from a bar or liquor store can be extremely difficult without proper evidence. The dram shop and their insurance provider are unlikely to offer compensation easily and will try to fight your claim tooth and nail. After all, both are concerned with making money, and giving a fair settlement will have a serious impact on their bottom line. But there are ways to obtain key evidence against them.
Speak with witnesses: Other patrons and even employees may be able to testify on your behalf if they say that the at-fault driver was clearly intoxicated before being served, was obviously a minor, or that they made it clear they intended to drive after having a few drinks.
Ask for the driver’s side of the story: While alcohol impacts the brain’s ability to retain memory, the driver may still remember how they acted at the bar, and who they interacted with. They may be willing to offer key witness statements that detail their own behavior and whether or not the bar should have known to cut them off or call the authorities.
Get security footage: Many businesses will have security cameras set up around the property in order to protect themselves against thieves and robbers. However, the footage can also be used against them in a dram shop liability case.
Can You File Multiple Claims?
A bar or liquor store over serving the drunk driver responsible for your accident does not mean that that driver is no longer at fault or liable. They still made the decision to drink and drive, which is never excusable under any circumstances. That being said, you may be able to file a claim against the driver and the dram shop.
While that means double the work, it also means that you can receive far more in compensation than if you could exclusively make in a claim against the at-fault driver. This can have a serious impact on your settlement amount if the driver had very limited policies, or didn’t have insurance, meaning that they were an uninsured or underinsured motorist (UM/UIM). While you can file a claim with your own insurance company in such circumstances so long as you UM/UIM coverage, dram shop liability still offers you a valuable third option, especially if you still have costs leftover even after filing with your own insurance company.
Car accidents are not cheap. You have to contend with medical bills, property damage, and lost wages due to taking time off to recover. After being involved in a drunk driver accident, you will need all the sources you can get in order to recover as much compensation as possible. If you don’t, you may find yourself in a situation where you can’t pay for the costs that someone else caused by their negligent behavior.
But in order to recover compensation, you will need the help of a skilled and experienced Atlanta auto accident attorney. Thankfully, we can provide you with just that. The husband and wife team at Grant Law Office have the experience and knowledge to investigate all possible forms of compensation for our clients. If you were injured by a drunk driver, we can provide sound legal advice about your case and all of your options. For a free consultation, call Grant Law Office at (404) 995-3955 today.
Contact us today for a free and comprehensive case evaluation.
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