What Are Dram Shop Laws?
When a bar serves enough liquor to a patron to cause their intoxication, dram shop laws make the bar owner strictly liable to any person injured by the intoxicated patron.
What Is the Illinois Liquor Liability Law?
Illinois is one of 38 U.S. states with dram shop laws. The Illinois Liquor Control Act (235 ILCS 5/6-21) states that anyone who is injured in Illinois by an intoxicated person can sue the establishment responsible for that person’s intoxication. That is, the injured person can sue the bar that sold or gave alcoholic beverages to the intoxicated person.
The intoxicated person himself, however, cannot sue the liquor-serving establishment for injuries to himself or his own property, nor can their family make a claim for the loss of the intoxicated person’s support or society.
The Liquor Control Act also specifies limits on the amount of damages that an injured person can claim. These limits are updated annually based on inflation. For incidents occurring on or after January 20, 2019, the maximum compensation is $70,091.09 per person injured. The injured person’s immediate family can also claim loss of support or loss of society up to a maximum of $85,666.89. Each establishment holding a liquor sales license is required to have liquor liability insurance of at least $225,849.07.
What Do You Have to Prove to Win a Liquor Liability Case?
If you have been injured in a car crash caused by a drunk driver, you will need to prove three key points in order to obtain compensation under Illinois’ liquor liability laws:
- The person who injured you was served liquor at a specific bar.
- That person was served enough liquor at that bar to become intoxicated.
- That person, while still intoxicated, caused the car accident in which you were injured.
An experienced personal injury attorney will know how to investigate your case and gather the necessary evidence.
For example, when police suspect that intoxication contributed to a car crash, they will typically order immediate blood-alcohol testing of the at-fault driver. That will establish the level of that driver’s intoxication. The police may also obtain verbal testimony from the at-fault driver and any passengers they were transporting, which could reveal where they had been drinking and how much alcohol was consumed.
If the police investigation does not reveal where the at-fault driver became intoxicated, a private investigation led by an experienced lawyer may turn up this information. For example, a drunk driver’s alcohol consumption in the hours just prior to a car crash could be documented through credit card transactions, cell phone tracking, security camera video, or eyewitness testimony from other patrons of the bar.
Consult an Aggressive Palatine Personal Injury Lawyer
If you or a member of your family have been injured or killed in a car crash involving a drunk driver, you may be able to claim compensation from more than one source. For a free initial consultation on your case, call an experienced Schaumburg personal injury attorney. Contact the law offices of Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC at 847-934-6000.
About the Author: Attorney Ken Apicella is a founding partner of DGAA focusing in the areas of personal injury, employment, insurance coverage disputes, and civil litigation. Ken earned his J.D. from DePaul University College of Law in 1999. He has been named a SuperLawyers Rising Star and a Forty Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch. Ken has written and lectured for the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education and regularly serves as a moderator at Northwest Suburban Bar Association's Continuing Legal Education seminars.