Colorado Car Accident Lawyers: Dram Shop
Colorado Dram shop laws are statutes that can make a business liable for providing alcohol to a minor or to a person who is clearly intoxicated if that person causes injury, death or property damage in an alcohol related accident. Colorado Dram shop laws differ from other injury cases in that they impose liability on a third party (person selling or giving out the alcohol) rather than the individual driver or owner that may have caused the car crash. This does not mean that the person that caused the accident is not held liable. The intoxicated driver is still responsible for any harm caused. The dram shop laws establish liability in addition to the intoxicated driver’s liability.
Dram Shop Liability
In addition to dram shop laws, similar liability can be extended to people who provide alcohol to minors or intoxicated persons in a social setting. This is referred to as “social host liability”.
Colorado’s dram shop statute can be found at Colorado Revised Statutes section 12-47-801. Section 12-47-801 states that businesses that sell alcohol to minors or to someone that is visibly intoxicated, can be held responsible if that person injures someone in an alcohol related accident.
An example is a patron at a bar. If someone is at a bar for a significant period of time and they have ordered numerous drinks, begin slurring their words, become glassy eyed and fall down when they try to walk, and then are still served again, the bar is serving someone that is visibly intoxicated. This person then leaves and crashes into a car as they are driving home. The injured party in the car crash can certainly sue the patron of the bar individually but they can also sue the bar for continuing to serve a person who is visibly intoxicated. A similar scenario would apply for a minor.
Colorado’s laws are different for a social host setting as opposed to a licensed business. A social host is someone without a liquor license who serves alcohol in a social setting. In Colorado, social hosts will not be liable for serving alcohol to someone who is over 21 years old even if that person is visibly intoxicated. However, if that same social host knowingly serves alcohol to a minor, the social host can be liable if the minor injures someone in an alcohol related accident. The same holds true if the social host provides a setting for minors to consume alcohol.
Dram Shop Damages
In terms of damages, the injured party may be able to recover medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, and/or pain and suffering under the dram shop statute. However, in Colorado, there are caps for dram shop cases whereby the amount the injured party can recover is limited to $150,000.
It is also important to note that these types of actions must be filed within one year of the alcohol related injury in order to comply with Colorado’s statute of limitations. This means that a lawsuit must be filed within one year of the accident or the claim may be forever barred. This could be particularly troublesome because in many instances, the dram shop liability may not be immediately known and only comes to light after a lawsuit is filed against the intoxicated individual.
A car crash involving a drunk driver is different than a “normal” car accident because drunk driving is against the law. As a result, a criminal case is initiated as opposed to a civil case which would be pursued by the injured party in the crash. The state and/or federal government is in charge of the criminal proceedings and although you may receive some compensation in the form of restitution, that is not the goal of the criminal case. For the injured party to receive any monetary damages, a civil case needs to be pursued.
In a civil case, you may be entitled to compensatory damages which are comprised of general and special damages. General damages are intended to compensate the injured party for the physical and mental pain and suffering and more subjective types of injuries suffered by the plaintiff. Special damages are meant to reimburse the injured party for out of pocket expenses, medical expenses, lost income and other economic losses.
In addition to compensatory damages, in drunk driving cases, you may also be entitled to punitive damages. Punitive damages are not covered by insurance and are meant to punish the drunk driver for their reckless behavior and to act as a deterrent from driving drunk in the future.
Contact Colorado Dram Shop Lawyers Today
At Zinda Law Group, we have provided counsel to many drunk driving accident victims and their loved ones throughout Colorado. We and are keenly aware of the legal nuances involved as well as the emotional support necessary to help the injury victims and their loved ones cope with their loss. Also, we have handled numerous drunk driving cases and are very adept at finding insurance coverage that other lawyers may have missed.
We provide a free initial consultation to all of our clients. You can contact us through our website or call us at 303-800-1501. We handle all of our cases on a contingency fee arrangement. There is no charge to our clients unless a recovery is obtained.