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Dram Shop Laws Rarely Enforced

Posted on in Drunk Driving Accidents

dram shop lawIf you have had a loved one injured or killed by a drunk driver, it can seem as if there is no light at the end of the tunnel. This is especially true if the person at fault for the accident is no longer capable of being held responsible for the action, or if for some reason he or she was either found not guilty or given a highly reduced sentence for the crime. The perpetrator of the crime is not the only person, however, who can be held responsible in the event of death or injury caused by drunk driving. Dram shop laws were passed so that liquor stores or bars that served visibly intoxicated people could be held liable for such irresponsibility.

The first Dram Shop Act was passed in Illinois in 1934. For the Dram Shop Act to be held up in court, according to the State of Illinois, “the plaintiff must prove that intoxication was caused by consumption of liquor provided by a defendant and that the injury, property damage, or loss of means of support or loss of society was caused by the act of an intoxicated person.” Each year the monetary limits of compensation are adjusted for inflation, reports the State Legislature, but as of 1998 these were $45,000 for personal injury and property damage and $55,000 for loss of support or society.

The rules may seem strict, but there are few highly publicized incidents in which such rules are enforced. According to a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania publication, a state that has similar dram shop laws to Illinois, such laws can be difficult to prove in court. Not only can the owner and operator of a tavern or bar be held liable for serving a visibly intoxicated person who later causes harm as a result of his intoxication, so can the person who served him. Industry officials balk at dram shop laws, claiming that it is nearly impossible for an employee to be a mind reader, and that making the call to cut off a customer is not a fair responsibility for an often-minimum-wage-paid worker. Florida and Nevada are the only states in which no dram shop laws exist at the state level.

If you or someone you know has been injured in a drunk driving accident, you may be eligible for compensation regardless of the specifics of the incident. Do not go through it alone. Contact a Wheaton accident attorney for a consultation today.

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