Bars and taverns are oftentimes the watering-holes responsible for putting drunk drivers on the road. Of course, the drunk driver always has responsibility for drinking to the point of intoxication. But depending on how irresponsible these bars are, a single bar may be partially responsible for causing dozens of drunk driving injury crashes per year.
Unfortunately, individuals who choose to drive drunk are usually financially irresponsible in purchasing car insurance. Consequently, the injured victims of these drunk drivers often discover that the drunk driver has little or no insurance money to compensate them for their injuries and losses. In these cases, the injured victims must look elsewhere for compensation.
If you are injured by a drunk driver, you may have a claim against the bar that supplied the alcohol to the driver. Claims against bars and taverns are called dram-shop claims. It should be noted that these claims are the exception rather than the rule. To prevail on these claims, the injured victim must prove that the bar served the drunk driver alcohol after the driver became visibly intoxicated. The injured party cannot merely show that the at-fault driver became intoxicated at the bar. Instead, the plaintiff must show that the bar continued to ply the driver with alcohol even after he became visibly intoxicated.
We call dram-shop claims “hidden claims” because the drunk driver usually invokes his right to remain silent in the criminal investigation. Thus, any potential claim against the bar remains hidden unless the drunk driver identifies the name of the bar where he was served alcohol. This information has to be discovered within a year of the crash because you only have a year to bring a claim against the bar before the statute of limitations expires. If the victim does not file a lawsuit in a court of competent jurisdiction against the bar within a year of the collision, the bar will never be held liable for the harm it caused.
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If you are severely injured in a crash by a drunk driver, you may have a claim against the bar who served alcohol to that driver. However, unless your attorney works quickly to uncover the “hidden” dram-shop claim, you may lose your ability to seek compensation from that bar. At Anderson, Hemmat & McQuinn, we understand the importance of exploring the hidden claims of a case when appropriate. Call our experienced accident attorneys today for a free personal injury consultation.