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Liability for Drunk Driving and Private Parties

Published: Oct 31, 2016 in Alcohol Injury, Car Accidents, DUI

If you’ve been injured by a drunk driver, you may have a claim for compensation against both the intoxicated person and any individual or establishment that contributed to his or her intoxication. The Alabama drunk driving accident lawyers at Belt & Bruner, P.C. can explain your legal options and will work tirelessly to prove the responsible parties’ liability and help you recover compensation.

Drunk driving is responsible for thousands of catastrophic injuries and deaths each year. In fact, there are 28 people killed in motor vehicle accidents involving an alcohol-impaired driver every day in the United States. Despite laws prohibiting drunk driving, the use of sobriety checkpoints, educational programs, and a wide-variety of other interventions, drunk driving continues to be a major problem in Alabama. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 3,000 people were killed in crashes involving a drunk driver in Alabama between 2003 to 2012.

Dram Shop Liability Laws

Alabama is one of 30 states with so-called “dram shop” laws, which permits licensed establishments such as bars, restaurants, and liquor stores to be held liable for serving or selling alcohol to an individual who appears to be intoxicated and subsequently causes harm to a third-party. In Alabama, there are two dram shop liability statutes–Alabama¬ Code §6-5-70 and §6-5-71.

Alabama Code §6-5-70, which is known as the Civil Damages Act, prohibits the sale or furnishing of alcohol to minors. It also establishes a civil action for any harm that results to a minor as a consequence of intoxication. In order to establish liability under this section, the individual or establishment who served or sold alcohol to the minor must have known or should have known the person in question’s age.

In order to establish liability under Alabama Code §6-5-71 (known as the Dram Shop Act), a plaintiff must show that the defendant sold, gave away, or otherwise disposed of alcohol in a way that was:

  • contrary to the provisions of the law
  • was the cause of the intoxication and
  • the intoxication resulted in the plaintiff’s injuries

Courts have interpreted “contrary to the provisions of the law” to mean that the establishment provided alcohol to a person who was visibly intoxicated or who appeared to be intoxicated. This has also been interpreted to include the sale of alcohol to minors.

The damages available under the Dram Shop Act will vary depending on the specific facts of the case but can include compensation for losses such as medical costs, loss of earning potential, lost wages, and property loss or damage. Exemplary or punitive damages may also be awarded in dram shop liability cases.

How Our Alabama DUI Accident Lawyers Can Help You

If you have been injured or suffered the tragic loss of a loved because of a drunk driver, the alcohol injury attorneys at Belt & Bruner, P.C. are here to help. Our attorneys have more than 65 years of collective court room experience and we can help you understand your legal options in the aftermath of a serious accident.

We can help you pursue a claim for compensation under Alabama’s dram shop laws and hold the parties responsible for your losses accountable. We commit our extensive experience, resources, and skills to every case with the goal of securing the maximum available compensation for our clients.

If you or a loved one were injured by a drunk driver, call the drunk driving accident lawyers from Belt & Bruner, P.C. at (205) 933-1500 or use our online form. We offer a case evaluation free of charge and are ready to help you obtain full compensation for your losses. With offices in Birmingham, Mobile, Huntsville, and Montgomery, our attorneys will quickly travel to investigate your case.