When an intoxicated individual harms another person, the injured party may seek recovery from the bar, restaurant, or other licensed alcohol establishment that sold the intoxicated person alcohol. These “dram shop” laws allow personal injury claims for damage to property or the injury or death of a person. Frequently, these claims arise as a result of automobile accidents involving intoxicated drivers; however, they also may arise in other situations as well.
Liquor Control Act
The dram shop law is found within the Illinois Liquor Control Act, which is intended to promote the health and safety of people through the regulation and control of the manufacture, sale, and distribution of alcohol. Under Illinois law, any person who is injured by any intoxicated person has a cause of action against any person, licensed to sell alcohol, who, by selling or giving alcohol caused the intoxication. Liability can be extended to:
1. An establishment, like a bar or restaurant, that sells alcohol to individuals who consume the alcohol on the premises;
2. A person 21 years of age or older who pays for a hotel room with knowledge that it will be used for the consumption of alcohol by a person under 21 years of age when such alcohol is consumed on the premises; and
3. People who own, rent, lease, or permit occupation of a building or property with the knowledge that alcohol will be sold at the property when such alcohol is consumed on the premises.
The action can be for the loss of means of support of the loss of society, but not both. The loss of society is defined as the mutual benefits each family member receives from the continued existence of the other member. These benefits include love, affection, comfort, guidance and protection. In addition, claims can be made for damage to property, injury or death. In order to be successful, an injured person must prove that the:
1. Establishment sold alcohol to the person who caused the damage or injury;
2. Establishment was the proximate cause of the person becoming intoxicated;
3. Injuries or damages were caused by the intoxicated person; and
4. Intoxication was at least one cause of the resulting damage or injury.
It is important to note that there is no requirement under Illinois law that the establishment knew or had reason to know that the person was already intoxicated before serving them alcohol in order to hold the establishment liable.
The amount of damages that can be recovered is limited. Illinois law requires the Comptroller to adjust the liability limits in accordance with the Consumer Price Index (CPI) during the preceding 12-month calendar year. For property damage, injury, or death that occurred on or after January 20, 2015, the amount of damages recoverable cannot exceed $65,511.99. Claims for the loss of means of support or society cannot exceed $80,070.21.
Personal Injury Claims
If you have suffered injury or damage to property as a result of an intoxicated person, there may be several options to seek recovery for your losses. For more information, reach out to an experienced Crystal Lake personal injury attorney today. Our firm proudly presents individuals throughout the northwest suburbs, including communities such as Des Plaines, Palatine, Schaumburg, Crystal Lake, Rolling Meadows, Buffalo Grove, Barrington, Arlington Heights, Inverness, and Deer Park.
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.