State law establishes financial liability on the sellers of alcohol in the event they sell more alcohol to intoxicated customers. Establishments such as bars and restaurants may be legally liable for selling to an intoxicated individual who later cause an accident due to their alcohol consumption. This means, if you were injured by a drunk driver, the business that sold them the alcohol may be responsible for your injuries as well.
A Seattle dram shop lawyer may be able to help you get compensation from the establishment who sold the driver the alcohol. A consultation with a knowledgeable attorney could help you determine your options for financial recovery.
What is a Dram Shop Lawsuit?
Dram shop cases are intended to hold the sellers of alcohol responsible for their negligent actions. This negligent action is specifically related to the sale of alcohol to an already or overly intoxicated individual. The plaintiff is usually required to show how their damages are directly related to the actions of the establishment that overserved the intoxicated individual.
There are two primary types of dram shop cases that a Seattle lawyer could help an injured party file.
Most first party dram cases occur when the establishment sold alcohol to a minor and the minor was injured as a result of their intoxication. It is illegal to sell alcohol to a person under the age of twenty-one. Doing so may make the establishment liable for the injuries they cause themselves as a result.
Most dram shop cases are third party lawsuits. These occur when the intoxicated individual causes the plaintiff injury. The plaintiff is the “third party” who is often entitled to file a lawsuit against the selling establishment.
Proving a Dram Shop Case in Seattle
Washington Statutes § 66.44.200 is the state’s dram shop statute that sets forth the applicable law in this area. To prove that the establishment violated this statute, the plaintiff and their attorney must prove the following elements:
- Existence of a duty of care
- A breach of that duty under dram shop law
- The plaintiff’s injury resulted from the breach
- The plaintiff suffered damages
In dram shop cases, the duty of care is imposed by statute and common law principles of responsibility when serving intoxicated individuals. Bars that continue to serve to an obviously intoxicated individual may be responsible for what occurs if that person drives home.
Proximate Cause Issues
The conduct of the drunk driver must be reasonably related and foreseeable to the establishment that served that individual. It is entirely foreseeable that overserving an individual who drives home that injury may occur. It may be less foreseeable to a liquor store that sold a large supply of liquor to a party that someone could injure another as a result.
This proximate cause analysis is very fact-based and will apply differently to every situation. A plaintiff should consult with a seasoned attorney in Seattle to determine the potential success of their dram shop claim.
Seek the Services of a Dram Shop Attorney in Seattle
If you were injured as the result of a drunk driver, and an establishment overserved that individual, they may be financially responsible for your injuries. However, understanding state dram shop laws could be difficult without guidance from a reliable legal professional.
Contact an experienced Seattle dram shop lawyer to get started on your claim today.