When a business may be responsible for a drunk driving accident

In the state of Tennessee, accidents involving drunk drivers are a far too common occurrence. If you have found yourself the victim of one, you probably want to know what options you have for seeking compensation. You can file claims against the responsible driver and his or her insurance company. Did you know you may also be able to file legal claims against any business that served him or her alcohol just before the crash?

Dram shop laws exist so that victims of drunk driving accidents or -- in the event of fatality -- their surviving family members, may seek further relief for their losses. They are also in place to hold alcohol-serving/selling establishments accountable for their actions. It is illegal to over-serve a person alcohol. It is also unlawful to sell to a minor. Businesses that do these things ought to be held responsible. 

How do dram shop claims work?

To be clear, dram shop claims are not appropriate for every drunk driving case. Certain elements have to exist in your case for you to pursue this type of claim. The basic elements needed to utilize dram shop laws are:

  • Proof of alcohol sale
  • Proof of harm
  • Evidence that the alcohol sale contributed to your losses

Some states go a little further and state that there has to be proof that an establishment knowingly over-served a patron or knowingly allowed a minor to purchase alcohol. Obtaining the evidence required to support a dram shop claim can be difficult. It does not mean it is impossible, however. Legal counsel will know where to look for the information needed and what questions to ask in order to determine if pursuing a dram shop claim is appropriate. 

Who can you file dram shop claims against?

Dram shop claims may be filed against all establishments that serve or sell alcoholic beverages. Such as:

  • Bars
  • Liquor stores
  • Restaurants
  • Stadium vendors
  • Taverns

In some instances, dram shop laws may also apply in cases involving alcohol served at private social events.

Do dram shop laws apply to your case?

If you are not sure if dram shop laws apply to your case, it is okay to ask questions. After a careful case review and an in-depth investigation, legal counsel can help you determine if pursuing relief by filing this type of claim would be of benefit to your situation, and you'll never know unless you ask.

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