It’s common knowledge that a drunk driver can be sued after an accident with injuries or a death on the roads of Georgia. However, in some circumstances, the establishment that served the driver alcohol may also be sued under Georgia’s Dram Shop Act.
Those who can be held liable include the owner of a shop, a restaurant, a bar or even a homeowner if the driver became drunk at a party with alcohol.
Georgia is among a group of states to have a hospitality law relating to the provision of alcohol, whether served in a private home or a commercial establishment.
In the past, the law would limit liability for a drunk driver’s actions to the driver. However, states enacted laws to make sure places that supply alcohol were not let off the hook.
Although it’s not reasonable to hold a store that sells liquor to a driver liable when he’s sober eight hours or so before a crash, it’s a different matter if that driver showed signs of impairment when he bought alcohol at a store or ordered a drink at the bar.
The Georgia Dram Shop Law asserts that some responsibility is born by the shop owner in cases where a clearly intoxicated patron is served further alcohol, and later causes injury in a motor vehicle accident.
The Dram Shop Act allows premises that served alcohol to be held liable in two situations for damages or injuries caused by an intoxicated patron after being served, namely:
- When a person under the age of 21 is served alcohol and causes an accident.
- When a person over 21 who is visibly drunk is served more drinks. In the second situation, there are three elements needed to prove liability on the part of a restaurant, a store owner or a party host.
- The server must knowingly give alcoholic beverages to an individual who shows signs of intoxication.
- The server must be aware that the intoxicated person would be operating a vehicle.
- The provision of the alcohol must have been the “proximate cause,” or the action closest in relationship to the injury or accident.
These restrictions mean it can be challenging to bring a Dram Shop action. However, when serving alcohol in the home, property owners are responsible for the safety of their guests as well as commercial promises.
If a person knowingly provides alcohol to a drunk person aware they will be operating a vehicle in the near future, they can be held liable for any injuries resulting from their actions.
In Georgia, a property owner is responsible for alcohol served to anyone under 21 whether or not the property owner is present at the time of serving.
This raises questions about parties held by teens when their parents are absent. The parents could be responsible for the subsequent actions of underage drinkers even if they are not present at the time and had no knowledge of what was going on.
The Georgia Dram Shop law has expanded liability for both owners of eating and drinking establishments, and owners of private homes.
If you have been hit and hurt by a drunk driver on the roads of Georgia, there are a number of parties you can sue. As well as the at-fault driver’s insurance company, a commercial establishment may be liable. A Georgia drunk driving injury lawyer can help you identify the liable parties and take on your case. Call the Law Office of Michael West at (404) 913-1529.