The Person Who Hit Me Was Drinking. Do I Have a Case Against the Bar That Was Overserving Them?
As driving under the influence of drink and drugs continues to be one of the driving factors behind so many accidents across America, many of us who drive will be in the situation where we see a DUI occurring. To try and prevent drunk driving accidents from even happening, many states have introduced dram shop laws that help the liquor store or bar owners take responsibility for watching their customers, not overserving them, and ensuring anyone who’s been drinking in their establishment doesn’t get behind the wheel.
A bartender who sees that one of their patrons is too drunk has a responsibility to stop serving them and prevent the driver from leaving the premises. Likewise, if you were a fellow customer and noticed someone drinking a lot before trying to get into their vehicle, you are perfectly in the right to report it immediately to the police.
If you have been hit by a drunk driver, they may not be the only ones liable. If a bartender has been overserving a customer and let them leave the bar, then the bartender or bar may be held liable for the accident, as well as the at-fault driver. So, you potentially have 2 claims to make: 1 against the driver who made the decision to drive drunk, and who subsequently hit you, and 1 against the bar for letting them leave when the bartender has been overserving the driver.
The injury attorneys at Phoenix Accident and Injury Law Firm in Phoenix have significant experience in helping clients who have been victims of DUI accidents where the bar was accused of overserving the at-fault driver. If you need help filing a claim for one of these awful, life changing accidents, we are here to help you get the compensation you deserve. Our offices are conveniently located in Chandler, Peoria, and North Phoenix, and we can meet in-person or over the phone or video call. You can contact us for a free consultation, or read on to find out more.
By the way, we will also help with other problems that have cost you sleep, like getting a rental car very soon and finding a nearby doctor or psychiatrist who can help get your life back on track. Even the best legal team isn’t good enough if your quality of life isn’t sustainable while justice and compensation are on the way. The whole point of legal action is to regain quality of life, so we help you long-term as attorneys and short-term as your go-to people. Our familiarity with the local Phoenix courts makes us confident that we can help you get the best settlement possible.
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What is Dram Shop Liability Law in Arizona?
Dram shop liability is a law in place in Arizona and other states that places responsibility on the licensee of a bar, restaurant. or shop to prevent their customers from drinking then driving off. In fact, the dram shop liability law means they may also be held accountable for any accidents that happen if they don’t stop the driver or report them immediately.
In order to encourage a licensee to keep an eye on their customers and their alcohol consumption, the law states they won’t be made liable for damages to anyone they serve alcohol to over the legal drinking age who is injured or whose property is damaged, or even to the survivors of the individual if they do get behind the wheel and tragically die.
If a passenger in the vehicle has drunk alcohol with the driver at a bar was later involved in a crash, the passenger’s case would be against the driver as they cannot hold the licensee accountable by statute.
These are vital parts of the law to encourage licensees to oversee their customers’ drinking consumption and ensure drunk-driving accidents are kept to a low level- if non-existent!
Dram Shop Liability in Casinos
Dram shop liability doesn’t extend to Indian reservations or casinos which means that someone who’s injured as the result of a drunk driver who became intoxicated as a result of being served alcohol at a casino doesn’t have a case against the casino because they are operated by the Indian nation on whose land they sit. This immunity extends to employees of the casino who serve alcohol too.
What Types of Compensation Can a DUI Victim Receive?
Victims of drunk driving accidents can seek both compensation as well as punitive damages which are meant to punish the wrongdoing for their unlawful behavior. Compensation is often considered as financially compensating someone for injuries resulting from the accident and include:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Damaged property
- Pain and suffering
Punitive damages are additional for victims of DUI and are usually awarded at the jury’s discretion and based on how outrageous they find the wrongdoer’s behavior. If the victim of the drunk driving accident dies as a result of the accident, immediate family members can seek compensation for their loss in what is referred to as a wrongful death lawsuit. In Arizona, the right to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit is granted by statute.
Can A Bartender Be Held Liable for a Drunk Driving Accident?
It’s clear that a bar overserving a patron can be held liable in some cases for a drunk driving accident. They kept serving the patron alcohol when they should have stopped. But, can an individual bartender be held liable for overserving?
Bartenders have a responsibility to monitor their client’s alcohol intake, and to not continue to serve them if they are too drunk or have been served too much. Similarly, they have a duty to stop a patron if it is clear they are driving home while drunk. For example, if they see a patron who has been served too much alcohol take out their keys, they have a duty to stop that person from driving. This may take the form of offering to call a cab or Uber, or (if the patron is extremely belligerent) calling the police.
However, it is still the drunk driver’s decision to drive after drinking. The individual bartender cannot be held responsible or liable for a drunk driving accident. The same way that the Dram Shop Liability laws in Arizona protect innocent victims of drunk drivers and hold bars accountable, they protect bartenders. Bartenders on a busy shift may not have the time or opportunity to realize a drunk patron is driving, and they may have a number of extenuating factors that lead to them not realizing they have been overserving a patron. Dram shop liability laws allow you, as the victim and not at-fault driver in a DUI accident, to file a lawsuit against the bar, not the bartender.
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Previous Cases Our Attorneys Have Worked On
As experienced accident attorneys in Arizona, we’ve worked on plenty of drunk-driving accident cases and have represented a range of clients who are looking for compensation for their accident. In one case we represented the mother of a victim of a drunk-driving accident as her son had died as a result of being a passenger of someone who was drunk. An AYOUB employee was driving while intoxicated, after consuming excessive amounts of alcohol at the event hosted by La Puesta. We filed both a wrongful death and dram shop case and the jury awarded his mother $2.6 million, assessing liability to La Puesta in the amount of $2.1 million, and to AYOUB in the amount of $500,000.
Being the victim of a DUI accident is frightening and overwhelming so holding those accountable for your injuries is vital not only for you to get closure and the compensation you need, but also to stop similar behavior from the culprits in the future.
Since the law can be complicated, having an experienced attorney assist you through the legal process is highly beneficial, so why not contact our experienced and compassionate legal team at the Phoenix Accident and Injury Law Firm today.
Get Help Now
At Phoenix Accident and Injury Law Firm near you, we have more than 15 years of experience helping clients obtain compensation for their personal injuries from DUI accidents in the Phoenix area, including bar overserving victims. When you’re ready to talk, please contact our office to arrange a free initial consultation by phone or at our Chandler office, conveniently located near you.
If you have been in a DUI accident, contact Phoenix Accident and Injury Law Firm in nearby Chandler, AZ to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney. We provide personal injury legal services to clients in your area including Chandler, Gilbert, Mesa, Scottsdale, Tempe, and Peoria.