Drunk driving accidents can truly be devastating. When a driver is impaired visually from alcohol, they can cause severe injuries or even fatalities as a result. These injuries can cost thousands of dollars in medical bills for hospitalization and physical therapy as well as thousands in lost wages if the victim can’t work due to their injuries.
While we know that a drunk driving accident is the responsibility of the driver who consumed the alcohol, could it also be the fault of the establishment who served it to them?
Let’s look at whether or not liquor establishments are responsible for accidents, injuries, or deaths that drunk drivers cause as a result of drinking too much at a bar or a restaurant, and what that means if you or a loved one has been injured in a drunk driving accident.
WHEN CAN A BUSINESS BE HELD LIABLE FOR A DRUNK DRIVING ACCIDENT?
Per Georgia law, a commercial establishment that serves alcohol (like a bar or a restaurant) can be held liable under two circumstances:
- The drunk driver is under the legal drinking age of 21.
- The drunk driver was served alcohol even though he or she was noticeably already intoxicated, and they knew they were driving after leaving.
The laws that govern the liability of businesses that serve alcohol are what is known as Dram shop laws.
IN WHAT SITUATION MIGHT YOU NEED TO PURSUE LEGAL ACTION AGAINST A LIQUOR ESTABLISHMENT?
Although a negligent driver is the most common defendant in a personal injury case, if they have no insurance or only have the minimum liability coverage of $25,000 per person, this might not cover the severity of a victim’s medical bills or lost wages due to extreme injuries or a fatality.
In this case, it might be within the plaintiff’s best interest to pursue legal action against the commercial establishment that served the patron, assuming that it can be proved the employees knew the defendant planned to drive or served alcohol to a minor.
CAN YOU STILL PURSUE A LAWSUIT IF THE NEGLIGENT DRIVER HAD INSURANCE COVERAGE?
In short, yes. Personal injury and wrongful death victims are not limited to only pursuing a lawsuit against one party. It is possible that a driver and a commercial establishment were negligent, and a judge and jury could assign a percentage of fault to both parties.
Drunk driving injuries can be life-altering—and there’s no reason why you should have to go through that alone. If you or a loved one were in an accident with a drunk driver in Georgia and sustained life-threatening or severe injuries, you should hire an expert legal team to help you understand your rights and pursue legal action against all negligent parties. Contact the Fry | Goehring today at (404) 948-3571 to set up a consultation.