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Who Is Liable For An Alcohol-Related Atlanta Car Crash?

Alcohol And HandcuffsOn February 2, 2016, as Marietta police officers[1] and firefighters worked an accident scene on I-75, an SUV struck both the police car and a fire engine. Although there were no serious injuries, the driver of the SUV was arrested on a drunk driving charge.

Georgia Dram Shop Laws

Liability for injuries suffered by a DUI victim may not only rest with the drunk driver.  In every U.S. state, a person who is injured by the actions of an intoxicated individual may choose to bring a personal injury claim directly against the wrongdoer.  And in several states, including Georgia, the injured person may also bring a civil claim against a vendor who supplied alcohol to the person who caused the injury. These claims are known as “dram shop[2]” claims; the name comes from the fact that alcohol was traditionally sold by a unit of measure called a dram.

Under Georgia’s Dram Shop law, an injured victim may be able to hold certain individuals and businesses responsible for injuries caused by a drunk driver. Specifically, individuals, bars, restaurants, liquor stores, and other establishments can be held liable for selling and providing alcohol to noticeably intoxicated patrons who they know will soon be driving. Additionally, individuals, bars, restaurants, liquor stores, and other establishments can be held liable for selling and providing alcohol to individuals who are not 21 years of age or older

Clayton County Alcohol-Related Accidents

In 2011, there were 1,223 total fatal vehicle accidents in the state of Georgia, 277 of which were alcohol-related[3].  Each state has laws that allow an injured person to seek compensation when another person causes an accident. When alcohol is involved, several states also have laws that allow an injured person to seek compensation from a third party, like the bar or social host, that provided the alcohol.

Atlanta Claims Against Bar Owners

Section 15-1-40 of the Georgia Code[4] provides that victims can bring a legal claim against the seller of alcoholic beverages, such as a restaurant, bar, or tavern if two conditions are met: first, the victim must prove that the seller knowingly sold, furnished, or served alcoholic beverages to a person at a time when he or she was in a noticeable state of intoxication, and; secondly, the victim must establish that the furnishing or service of alcohol was carried out knowing that the person will soon be driving a motor vehicle.

Anyone who plans to file this type of claim against a bar or another commercial establishment should work with an experienced Atlanta alcohol-related accident attorney as it will be necessary to gather concrete evidence such as witness testimony that establishment owners and servers knew about the individual’s addiction to alcohol and continued to serve him or her to the point of intoxication.  There are other strategic considerations that a Clayton County dram shop attorney can bring to bear.

Social Hosts in Clayton County, Georgia

Georgia’s dram shop law does not only apply to liquor stores, bars, and restaurants the law also applies to any person who “sells, furnishes or serves alcoholic beverages” where the three elements mentioned above are present. Under Georgia law, a host at a private party who serves alcohol to an intoxicated guest can be held liable for injuries caused by that guest.

Atlanta Damages in Dram Shop Cases

Dram shop cases are civil claims, which means they are filed by the injured person directly, and liability is expressed solely in terms of money damages.  Damages for losses suffered in a dram shop claim may include compensation for the following:

Medical: Medical bills, including the costs of emergency care, surgery, hospitalization, medication, and rehabilitation.
Income:  Lost wages, including wages and benefits that might reasonably have been earned if the injuries had not caused the disability.
Property:  Costs for damaged or destroyed property.
Suffering:  Pain and suffering.

Atlanta Alcohol Related Accident Lawyers

Proving a case of dram shop liability can be a complex and difficult matter. The server of the alcohol may claim that the consumer did not appear noticeably intoxicated or that the provider did not know the consumer would soon be driving a motor vehicle. If you, or someone you love, was injured in an accident involving an intoxicated driver, it is important to speak to an Atlanta alcohol-related accident lawyer to determine if anyone is responsible for or contributed to your injuries and other damages, including any individual or business entity that served alcohol immediately prior to the accident.



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