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Victims of automobile accidents may be able to pursue compensation for their losses by taking legal action against the driver that caused the wreck. This is a common situation for many personal injury cases. In a dram shop liability case, the victim of an accident caused by an intoxicated individual or by a minor who had been consuming alcohol may also be able to sue the vendor or social host who provided alcohol to the at-fault party. This article will discuss several important aspects of dram shop cases, including how liability may be established, how to file a claim, and what forms of compensation may be available.
If you would like to learn more about dram shop liability cases, or if you are interested in filing a claim, call Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 to receive a free case evaluation with one of our dram shop lawyers.
For a free legal consultation with a dram shop lawyer serving Denver, call 800-863-5312
WHAT ARE DRAM SHOP LAWS?
In general, dram shop laws deal with liability as it relates to drunk driving. Dram shop laws impose liability on businesses or individuals who provide alcohol either to minors or to noticeably intoxicated persons. If the minor or noticeably intoxicated person subsequently harms someone in an automobile or another type of accident, the business or person who provided the alcohol may be held legally accountable.
Dram shop laws exist in order to protect the public welfare. Because these laws can have the effect of punishing a business or social host for overserving somebody, they essentially force providers of alcohol to be more cognizant of who they are offering alcohol to. One goal of these laws is to increase awareness and reduce the number of impaired drivers on the roads.
Dram Shop in Denver lawyers near me 800-863-5312
Colorado law states that “licensees” (i.e., businesses which have been licensed to sell alcohol within the state) may be held liable if the licensee sells or otherwise provides alcohol to a visibly intoxicated person or to a person under the age of 21, and that person subsequently causes injury to someone else.
Consider the following situation as an example of when Colorado’s dram shop liability laws for licensees may apply. Dave has been drinking at XYZ Bar for most of the night. As the night progresses, Dave begins slurring his words and stumbling over himself. Although the bartender at XYZ Bar notices Dave’s erratic behavior, the bartender continues to serve Dave. When Dave drives home later that night, he crashes into Paul. Paul suffers several injuries.
In this scenario, Paul may be able to take legal action directly against Dave. Paul may also be able to sue XYZ Bar under Colorado’s dram shop laws since XYZ Bar continued to serve Dave even after Dave was noticeably intoxicated. If Dave were under the age of 21, Paul might still be able to bring a claim against XYZ Bar, even if Dave were not noticeably drunk or impaired.
Finally, under Colorado law, it is not necessary that the cause of the injury be a foreseeable consequence of intoxication for dram shop liability to exist. Thus, if Dave in the example above were to have injured Paul in a manner other than by hitting him with his car, XYZ Bar may still be liable for Paul’s injuries.
Social Host Rules
In addition to holding bars, restaurants, and liquor stores liable for providing alcohol to minors and visibly drunk individuals, Colorado law also imposes some liability on social hosts who provide alcohol in private settings such as a house party.
Unlike dram shop laws for businesses, a social host cannot be held liable for over-serving a visibly intoxicated person who is over 21 years of age. However, under Colorado law, a social host may face liability for injuries caused by a minor if the social host knowingly served alcohol to the minor or knowingly provided a place for the minor to drink alcohol.
Consider the following situation as an example of when Colorado’s dram shop liability laws for social hosts may apply. Harold hosts a New Year’s Eve party at his house. Alex and Molly are invited. Alex is a friend of Harold’s and is 50-years old. Molly is Alex’s 18-year old daughter. Although Alex gets noticeably drunk, Harold continues to serve him. In addition, Harold also allows Molly to have two glasses of wine. As Molly drives Alex home later that evening, she crashes into Peter. Peter suffers several injuries.
In this scenario, Peter may be able to file a dram shop liability case against Harold. This is because Peter’s injuries were caused by Molly, a minor, and Harold provided Molly with alcohol and a place to consume it. On the other hand, if Peter’s injuries were caused by Alex, then Peter would not be able to file a dram shop case against Harold since Colorado law does not hold social hosts liable for overserving guests who are over 21 years of age.