Alcohol allows us to connect socially and to celebrate special events and holidays. According to the CDC, 66.3% of Americans over 18 consumed alcohol in 2018.
Bars and restaurants are popular places for alcohol consumption. Too much alcohol could lead to driving under the influence.
Alabama has liquor liability laws, also known as dram shop laws, that allow a person to sue the business. These laws hold an individual or business responsible for giving or selling alcohol to an intoxicated customer who then leaves and causes harm.
…This happens when a person who is visibly intoxicated or a minor goes to a bar and gets served drinks and then [they] leave the bar and injures someone…
Attorney William Messervy
Why are liquor liability laws called dram shop law?
In 18th century England, bars selling alcohol were called dram shops, from the unit of measure used to sell alcohol at that time.
Dram shop regulations apply to all businesses that sell or serve alcohol; this includes restaurants, bars, liquor stores, stadium vendors, and taverns. Dram shop law enables victims of drunken behavior to file civil lawsuits against the business, clerk, wait staff, and intoxicated individual. It also holds those serving alcohol liable for the acts committed by the intoxicated person they served.
Liability most often applies when:
- selling or giving alcohol to a minor
- selling or giving alcohol to a visibly intoxicated person
What types of damages can the plaintiff receive?
Alabama laws allow plaintiffs to sue and receive actual and punitive damages if their claim is successful.
Actual damages provide compensation for:
- Lost wages
- Property damage
- Medical cost relating to treatment, rehabilitation, and disability from injury
Punitive damages will:
- Punish and deter the illegal sale in the future
Alabama has a statute of limitations for personal injury claims. The law requires plaintiffs to file a claim within two years from the date of injury.
Holidays are most dangerous.
Below are statistics compiled by The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) of accidents involving a person with a blood alcohol content above .08 (the legal limit):
- Winter holidays account for 40% of alcohol-related deaths.
- New Year’s Day is the most dangerous for pedestrians, who are more likely to be hit by a drunk driver.
- St. Patrick’s Day averages a fatal alcohol-related accident roughly every 46 minutes.
- In 2019, Memorial Day was the deadliest holiday for alcohol-related car accidents.
- The NHTSA reports that alcohol-related crashes are more common during holidays.
Top 3 drunken holidays:
- New Year’s Eve
- St. Patrick’s Day
- Thanksgiving Eve
These statistics are eye-opening and only scratch the surface of alcohol-related death, injury, and damage. Please drink and/or host responsibly. Driving under the influence is never a wise idea. Always utilize designated drivers, taxis, and ride-sharing options.
If you have been the victim of someone’s negligence due to drunk driving or an establishment’s negligence in serving alcohol, let the experienced attorneys at Siniard, Timberlake & League work to get you the justice you deserve.