Determining who has fault for drunk driving crashes is usually pretty straightforward. Everyone understands that drunk driving is dangerous and illegal, so there is rarely any question about the culpability of the impaired driver.
Unfortunately, people who make bad decisions that leave others hurt don’t always have the means of compensating them. Someone who causes a fatal drunk driving crash could easily wind up incarcerated and therefore without any income. They may not have enough insurance to cover the costs a family suffers when a loved one dies unexpectedly, so a personal injury lawsuit against them as an individual might not do much good because of their lack of resources.
For families facing this exact scenario, a dram shop claim could be a workable solution if the drunk driver was out at a bar or restaurant shortly before they caused the crash. Under state law, you may be able to hold the business responsible for their contributions to the situation.
How does a business become responsible for an individual’s actions?
Alcohol clouds people’s judgments and can even poison them if consumed in large doses. There are many restrictions on the purchase, sale and service of alcohol to help reduce the public safety threats that alcohol can cause.
Restaurants, bars and other establishments that dispense liquor have an obligation to secure licensing from the state and to train their staff to ensure legal compliance with liquor laws. Specifically, those working in customer service positions should not continue serving alcohol to someone who is visibly drunk, nor should they ever so or serve alcohol to someone under the age of 21.
If a business violates either of these rules and the person that they serve goes on to cause a fatal crash, the business could be partially responsible for the losses associated with that drunk driving wreck.
Dram shop laws give grieving families more options
If victims could only hold drunk drivers accountable for the impact of their actions on society, many families wouldn’t receive the compensation they deserve when tragedy occurs. Colorado’s dram shop laws allow grieving families struggling to adjust to the loss of a loved one the opportunity to recover some of the financial losses they will suffer because of their recent loss.
A dram shop claim against a business that over-served a drunk patron or served alcohol to a minor could allow surviving family members to recover medical expenses, funeral costs, lost wages and other financial costs directly stemming from a drunk driving crash.