Accidents involving a drunk driver may not always be the driver’s fault – at least not entirely. Georgia’s dram shop laws expose liquor stores, bars, and even social hosts to potential liability in the event that an intoxicated person causes harm to others. If a drunken person caused you harm, you could potentially file a claim against the individual and the provider of the alcohol. The lawyers at Butler Wooten & Peak LLP can help you with dram shop liability claims in Atlanta.
Dram shop laws state that shop owners and others involved in the selling or distribution of alcohol have a responsibility not to serve persons who are “noticeably intoxicated,” minors (under the age of 21), or those they know will soon drive a motor vehicle. If a shop owner, establishment, or social host breaks this law and the intoxicated individual goes on to cause a car accident, start a fight, or otherwise inflict harm, injured parties may hold more than one party responsible for damages – the drunken person and the person or entity that served the alcohol.
Georgia’s dram shop laws don’t apply only to shops. Even social hosts may take on liability for an injured person’s damages in certain circumstances. If a social host serves alcohol to someone he/she knows is underage and will soon be driving a car, the host is accepting legal responsibility for any subsequent vehicle accidents. Unlike dram shop laws in most states, a vendor or social host will not be liable for serving alcohol to a minor unless he/she knows the minor will be driving soon.
For example, if a minor becomes intoxicated at a party, and the social host takes the minor’s keys, the host would then most likely not be liable if the minor stole someone else’s car to drive. The host did his/her duty by trying to prevent the intoxicated individual from driving. Georgia law enables injured parties to file lawsuits against alcohol suppliers in the event of a drunk driving accident. However, the drunken individual does not have the right to sue the provider of the alcohol, even if he/she sustained injuries in the accident.
If you were recently injured in an accident involving an intoxicated party, it is worthwhile to think of your case in terms of Georgia’s dram shop laws. You could be eligible to recover damages from the drunken individual and the party responsible for serving the person too much alcohol. Holding dram shops and social hosts liable for their actions is important not only in terms of compensation, but for the good of the community. A lawsuit can ensure the negligent party doesn’t repeat the mistake of serving too much alcohol to a minor, a drunken person, or someone who will be driving shortly.
In Georgia, you have two years from the date of your accident to file a personal injury claim against a dram shop or individual. If you don’t discover injuries until after the accident, such as a slipped disc that didn’t flare up until you were lifting boxes at work a month later, the deadline starts from the date of discovery of injury. Failure to bring your claim within the time limit means you forfeit your right to pursue compensation. The best way to protect your future is to seek counsel from an attorney as soon as possible.
Dram shop laws and alcohol provider liability are complex areas of Georgia law. They only come into play in very specific circumstances. Seek help from the lawyers at Butler Wooten & Peak LLP for these types of claims. Contact us online or call (800) 242-2962 to schedule a free case evaluation in Atlanta.