Can I Sue a Bar or Restaurant for Drunk Driving Accident Injuries?

Web Admin - Thursday, April 18, 2019
Des Plaines drunk driving accident attorneyWhen a drunk driver seriously injures another person, the injured person can sue the drunk driver for compensation under Illinois’ personal injury laws. If the at-fault driver became intoxicated in a bar, the injured person may also sue the owner of that bar under state liquor liability laws, also known as dram shop laws. 

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.

Ken ApicellaAbout 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.


Bars May Be Held Liable for Injuries Caused By Drunk Drivers

Web Admin - Friday, June 01, 2018
Palatine personal injury lawyer dram shop liabilityCar accidents can be devastating, especially when they are caused by a drunk driver. These drivers’ carelessness and lack of concern for people’s safety can lead to serious, debilitating injuries or even death. When a person is injured or killed because of a driver’s negligence, they may be able to seek compensation for their damages through a personal injury lawsuit. In addition to the negligent driver, other parties may be liable for the injuries caused, including the establishment that sold a driver the alcohol that led to their drunk driving.

Illinois Dram Shop Laws

Under Illinois law, victims who have been injured by a drunk driver may pursue damages from a bar, restaurant, nightclub, or liquor store that sold alcohol to the driver. Typically, the injured party must show that alcohol was provided to the driver by the establishment, this alcohol directly led to the driver’s intoxication, and the injuries suffered by the victim were caused as a result of this intoxication.

Illinois law provides limits for the damages which can be recovered in a dram shop lawsuit, and these limits are updated each year. As of January 20, 2018, these limits are:

- Personal injuries and property damage: $68,777.44 - This covers the costs of medical treatment and other expenses related to a person’s injuries, as well as any damage to their vehicle or other property which occurred in the accident.

- Loss of support or loss of society: $84,061.32 - Loss of support refers to the loss a family suffers because a victim is unable to provide financial support after being injured or killed in an accident. Loss of society refers to impairment to family relationships that occur when a person is injured or killed, including the love, affection, and companionship that the person would have provided to their family. Victims may seek compensation for either loss of support or loss of society, but not both.

Dram shop lawsuits have a statute of limitations of one year, which means that a lawsuit must be brought within one year after the accident or injury occurred.

Contact an Arlington Heights Dram Shop Liability Attorney

Bars, restaurants, and nightclubs have a responsibility to make sure that their patrons are acting safely, and if they do not take steps to prevent drunk driving, they may be held liable for the injuries that occur as a result. If you have been injured in a drunk driving accident, the attorneys of Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC can help you understand your options for pursuing compensation from the drunk driver and anyone else who was responsible. Contact a Crystal Lake personal injury lawyer at 847-934-6000 to schedule your personalized consultation today.

Ken ApicellaAbout 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.


Illinois’ Dram Shop Act

Web Admin - Friday, October 16, 2015

Illinois' Dram Shop Act, Crystal Lake personal injury attorneyWhen 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. 

Ken ApicellaAbout 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. 




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