Under dram shop liability laws, victims injured as a result of alcohol-related accidents may have the right to pursue compensation not only from the party who directly caused them harm, such as a drunk driver, but also potentially a drinking establishment that failed in its duty to take reasonable measures in ensuring the safety of others. This specifically refers to two primary types of incidents:
- A drinking establishment over serves a visibly intoxicated person they knew, or should have known, did not need any more alcohol, and that person later causes harm to another as a result of their intoxication. Commonly, this involves drunk drivers being over served, but it can also involve other types of accidents in which an over served person injures another.
- A drinking establishment serves alcohol to a minor who later causes harm as a result of their intoxication, regardless of how intoxicated they were. Under dram shop liability laws, if a bar furnishes a minor with alcohol, they can potentially be held liable if a victim suffers harm as a result of the minor’s intoxication.
Georgia is one of many states that has dram shop laws (Georgia Code § 51-140) which allow victims to hold alcohol providers liable for at least a portion of their damages, including their expenses for medical treatment, lost work earnings, and pain and suffering, among others. It also allows victims to hold social hosts liable for accidents and injuries caused by intoxicated guests. In order to hold an establishment liable for damages, victims will need to prove a few essential elements:
- A drinking establishment furnishes alcohol knowingly and willfully to a person under 21; or
- A drinking establishing knowingly over serves a patron they know, or should have known, is visibly intoxicated; and
- The alcohol provider knew that a minor or patron would be leaving their establishment in a motor vehicle.
Georgia dram shop laws are unique from many others in that they require it to be shown drinking establishments, as well as social hosts, knew that the person they were serving alcohol to would “soon drive a motor vehicle.” This is a crucial element victims need to prove in order to hold an alcohol provider liable, and it can be a difficult task that demands the attention of an experienced attorney. If a drunk driving accident victim cannot prove that the establishment knew a patron would soon be leaving in a motor vehicle, victims will not be able to pursue compensation from them under dram shop liability.
At Schneider Hammers, our Atlanta personal injury lawyers have helped numerous victims and families pursue the compensation they rightfully deserved following drunk driving accidents. By thoroughly investigating the circumstances and exploring liability of any drinking establishment or social host that may have been involved, our team goes the extra mile to help clients secure the maximum compensation possible.
If you have questions about your rights and potential case following a drunk driving accident or other alcohol-related incident that may involve dram shop laws, do not hesitate to reach out to our award-winning lawyers. Our legal team is solely focused on personal injury law, and have used their insight and collective experience to recover millions of dollars in compensation on behalf of the injured and their loved ones.
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