Georgia’s Dram Shop or Social Host Law Could Give You Additional Parties to Sue in Your Car Accident Case
While any car accident is bad, one that is caused by a drunk driver can be even more deadly and tragic. Despite the fact that it has been known for decades of the dangers of driving after consuming alcohol, negligent drivers continue to do it, causing innocent people to suffer debilitating injuries or death. If you were the victim of one of these accidents, you may have a claim for compensation from the negligent driver. But what if his insurance policy limit is not enough to cover all of your damages? Fortunately, you may also have a claim against the bar or individual who provided the negligent driver with alcohol before he drove.
What Is Georgia’s Dram Shop Law?
Dram shop laws are laws that allow injured victims of vehicle accidents to hold the third-party vendor who sold the alcohol liable for the victim’s injuries. Many states have dram shop laws. Under Georgia’s dram shop law, a seller of alcohol, such as a restaurant, bar, or liquor store, can be liable if it:
- “Willfully, knowingly, and unlawfully” served alcohol to a minor under 21 years of age.
- “Knowingly” served alcohol to a person (21 years old or older) who is “notably intoxicated.”
- The establishment knew the minor or intoxicated person would soon be driving a motor vehicle.
Only the victims of the accident and not the drunk driver can pursue a claim under this law.
Georgia’s Social Host Liability Laws
Georgia’s social host liability law is contained in the same statute section as the dram shop law. It provides for similar liability if a person serves alcohol to a minor or an intoxicated person who causes injuries as long as the person knew that the minor or intoxicated person would be driving a motor vehicle soon.
What Do You Have to Prove to Hold a Third-Party Vendor Liable for Your Car Crash?
What victims of car accidents have to prove to hold a business establishment like a bar or liquor store or social host liable for their injuries is different than in most states. Georgia has the added requirement of showing that the business or social host knew that the minor or intoxicated person would be driving soon after consuming the alcohol. In order to win a dram shop case, you would need to prove the following:
- Alcohol was served to the negligent driver by the bar, restaurant, retail establishment, or social host.
- The server knowingly served alcohol to a minor under 21 years of age or to a person who was notably intoxicated. This can be proven by showing the server knew or should have known the person was intoxicated.
- The server had knowledge that the intoxicated minor or person was going to be driving soon after serving him the alcohol.
- The intoxicated minor or person caused your injuries.
Proving that a business or person is liable for your injuries under Georgia’s dram shop law is difficult. That is why you need an experienced car accident attorney who will know how to build your case.
What Damages Can You Receive?
If you are able to prove the business’ or person’s liability for furnishing alcohol to the driver who hit you, you would be entitled to compensation. You should include the following in your settlement offer:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages and other benefits
- Property damage
- Pain and Suffering
What Is the Time Period to Sue Under the Dram Shop Law?
The time period to sue—called the statute of limitations—under Georgia’s dram shop law is two years. The time begins running on the date of your accident. If you fail to file a lawsuit within this time period, you waive your right to do so—something you do not want to do. This is another reason why you want to hire an experienced attorney soon after your crash.
Were you or a family member injured in a wreck caused by a drunk driver? Review our testimonials to see how we have helped other people in the same situations and then start an online chat to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with Brauns Law, PC.