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Dram Shop Liability in Illinois

Posted on in Car Accidents

Illinois personal injury attorney, Illinois car accident attorney, Illinois wrongful death lawyer,If you were hurt by a drunk driver, the negligent motorist may not be the only person responsible for your injuries.

The Liquor Control Act of 1934 has a dram shop liability section that affects the people who sell alcohol, like bartenders and restaurant owners, and the person or company that owns the building. These potential defendants may be liable for both personal injury and property damage. Any person or entity that provides alcohol can be liable; a 1992 case held that as little as two cans of beer can trigger responsibility.

Elements of a Claim

A plaintiff must generally prove a case by a preponderance of the evidence, or more likely than not. Imagine two equal stacks of paper side by side. If one sheet is moved from the left to the right, that is the picture of preponderance of the evidence. In a dram shop case, the plaintiff must prove:

  • Alcohol Sale: In most other states, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant sold alcohol to a person who was visibly intoxicated. That element is not required in Illinois, making these claims much easier to prove.
  • Cause: The patron must cause injury to someone, such as an assault or a motor vehicle crash. Typically, the less time that elapses between the sale and the injury, the stronger the plaintiff’s case. The business must also be the “proximate cause” of the intoxication, and the more alcohol sold, the greater the proximate cause.
  • Injury: Alcohol must be at least one major factor in the injury. The police report usually lists the contributing factors in an accident, like alcohol, speed, weather, and so on.
  • More than one defendant can be held liable under the Dram Shop Law, and the negligent plaintiff is still responsible for your injury as well.

Damages Available

There is a statutory cap on dram shop law damages. For accidents that occur after January 20, 2014, injuries related to persons or property are limited to $65,511.99; damages for loss of support or wrongful death are limited to $80,070.21. The cap is tied to inflation, so it goes up every year.

If you or a loved one was injured in any personal injury accident, contact an experienced Lake County personal injury attorney for a free consultation.
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