UNDERSTANDING DRAM SHOP LIABILITY IN DRUNK DRIVING CASES
Jan. 26, 2022
When a person is injured as the result of someone else’s negligence, they’re often entitled to seek a personal injury claim in addition to any insurance settlements. However, in cases where you’ve been injured by an intoxicated individual, you may be able to seek damages through Colorado’s dram shop liability law. These laws are notoriously hard to prove, but if successful, this type of case can provide much needed financial compensation to help with your expenses.
If you think you have a case, give us a call at Landry Law, P.C. to discuss your options. We have offices in Lone Tree and Trinidad, Colorado, but also serve clients in and around Denver, Douglas County, Castle Pines, and Castle Rock.
Dram Shop Liability Law in Colorado
A “dram shop” is a legal term for any establishment that sells alcoholic beverages, such as a bar or tavern. These businesses are legally obligated to follow state law regarding alcohol sale and consumption, and state law prohibits selling or providing alcohol to anyone who is visibly intoxicated or is under the age of 21. If a bar over-serves an individual and that person then proceeds to injure someone else, the bar can be held liable.
As the victim, if you can prove that the bartender knowingly served alcohol to a minor or someone who was visibly drunk, you can sue the bar that served the alcohol.
For example, perhaps a patron at a bar has been drinking for several hours and the bartender does not stop serving them, even though they’re showing visible signs of intoxication (such as slurring words or stumbling when they walk). They then leave the bar, get in their car, and proceed to cause an accident that leaves a pedestrian injured. That bartender may then hold liability for serving alcohol to the drunk bar patron.
In general, this law only applies to licensed establishments like bars and restaurants that are operating under state liquor laws. The owners and employees of these businesses are required to uphold the law and must be trained to recognize signs of intoxication.
In some cases, this law can apply to private individuals, known as “social hosts.” Most of the time, if a private resident is hosting a party or having people over for a social engagement, they are not responsible for their guests and whether they are overly intoxicated. However, if the guests are under the age of 21, the laws change and the host is responsible for serving or providing alcohol. If a minor consumes alcohol at a private residence and the host knowingly served or provided a place for them to drink, they can now be held liable.
Statute of Limitations
If you wish to file a claim under the dram shop liability law, you must do so within one year of the date of the accident. If you attempt to file after this statute of limitations is over, your case will likely be thrown out. A year is not a long time, so you should act swiftly and retain a personal injury lawyer to help you with your case.
In general, a personal injury claim against a dram shop can only seek damages that were directly related to the accident. This could be for medical bills, pain and suffering, personal property damage, or lost wages. However, Colorado state law caps any damages at $150,000 for dram shops.
Seek Experienced Guidance at Landry Law, P.C.
If you feel you have a case against a Colorado dram shop and would like help preparing your case and filing a claim, contact Landry Law, P.C. today for a consultation. We have locations in Lone Tree and Trinidad, Colorado, and we’re ready to serve your needs.