Indiana Dram Shop Liability

We all know the dangers of drinking and driving and that there are strict laws that provide serious punishment for people that choose to drink and drive.  Sadly, many people still decide to drink and drive on a regular basis.  Far too often, innocent drivers and passengers of other vehicles are seriously injured or killed as a result of a drunk driver on the road.

Obviously, the guilty individual here faces a myriad of charges, including possible felonies.

Obviously, the innocent injured party may pursue a personal injury claim against the drunk driver.  However, here in Indiana and in many other states, the injured party may also have a claim against the person/business that served the drunk driver.  The statute is known as the “Dram Shop Act.”   The result is even more opportunity for a victim to receive fair compensation for these irresponsible and inexcusable acts.

Indiana’s law (Indiana Code § 7.1-5-10-15.5), states that a person can be liable in a civil action for damages caused by the impairment or intoxication of the person who was furnished alcoholic beverages if:

(1)  the person furnishing the alcoholic beverage had actual knowledge that the person to whom the alcoholic beverage was furnished was visibly intoxicated at the time the alcoholic beverage was furnished; and

(2)  the intoxication of the person to whom the alcoholic beverage was furnished was a proximate cause of the death, injury, or damage alleged in the complaint.

This law does not only apply to bartenders at commercial establishments.  Any person who furnishes alcohol to a visibly intoxicated person can be liable for injuries caused by that person’s intoxication.

Here is just one example or hypothetical situation:   Adam goes out to for some drinks at Local Bar with some of his friends.  While at the bar, Adam is served many alcoholic beverages and becomes intoxicated.  The bar employees continue to serve him, knowing that Adam is intoxicated.  Later that night, Adam leaves the bar and begins to drive home.  On his way home, Adam runs a red light at a high rate of speed and hits another vehicle driven by an innocent victim , Bernard, who is severely injured in the crash.  Adam is tested at the scene for alcohol, and it is discovered that he had a BAC of 0.16 %, twice the legal limit.  In this scenario, Bernard can pursue claims for personal injuries against Adam and Local Bar.  In order for Local Bar to be held liable, Bernard will have to prove that someone at Local Bar had actual knowledge that Adam was intoxicated at the time he was served alcohol.

A dram shop is not liable in every situation, however.  Understand, too, that this article is not meant to be specific to your case.  Certain criteria must be met and every case is different.  Also, the laws in Indiana are not necessarily the same as they are in other states.  Thus, if you are a victim, it’s important to contact us even if you feel your case may not fit the legal definition of dram shop liability.

The law firm of Theodoros & Rooth has decades of experience with unfortunate cases like this.  People driving under the influence can cause irreparable tragedy to victims and their families.  We also solidly agree with the laws that place additional responsibility on those that knowingly continue to serve someone who has obviously has had too much to drink.

Do not hesitate to contact us if you believe you have been injured due to someone else’s negligence.   You can be assured that we a Theodoros & Rooth will fight aggressively for you and stand by your side until justice is served.  There is never a fee for an initial consultation and you owe us nothing until we win your case.