I was hit by a drunk driver, can I file a claim and sue the bar that overserved him?
In the right circumstances, yes. These cases are what Georgia refers to as “Dram Shop” cases. Ponton Law has handled a number of these cases. Georgia Dram Shop liability is found in OCGA 51-1-40. In a nutshell, the statute protects people who sell alcohol from being legally responsible unless:
The individual sells, furnishes, or serves alcohol to a minor with knowledge that they would soon be driving a motor vehicle, or owing that such person will soon be driving a motor vehicle.
These cases always focus on showing that the individual was intoxicated and that he would soon be driving a vehicle. Just because he was served 10 beers at a bar does not mean that you will be able to make a claim. You also need to show that the person serving the alcohol knew that the individual would be driving. Ideally, you would have evidence that the person who was intoxicated told the bartender that he was driving home. In practice, this rarely happens, and we are always using circumstantial evidence to show that the individual would be driving, such as videotape from the bar showing a set of keys on the bar. We typically try to resolve the third-party claim against the at-fault driver and then file suit against the bar or restaurant sooner as opposed to later. We ask for the bar to produce a representative who has knowledge of the following:
- Policy and procedures concerning intoxication prevention;
- Policy and procedures concerning the identification of an intoxicated patron;
- Policy and procedures concerning prevention of service to intoxicated patrons;
- Policy and procedures concerning practices implemented to prevent the intoxication of patrons;
- Policy and procedures concerning mitigation of intoxication;
- Policy and procedures concerning management and supervision of alcohol sales;
- Policy and procedures concerning the businesses designated driver program;
- Policy and procedures concerning offering alternate transportation, including, but not limited to providing taxi service;
- Policy and procedures concerning calling the police on intoxicated patrons;
- Policy on the placement of surveillance cameras and the review of the captured images;
- Policy on providing a waterback with every alcoholic beverage served;
- Policy containing job or position description which outlines the specific duties and responsibilities of each job or position description related to the business including minimum experience requirements, minimum training requirements, and minimum equipment requirements needed for each position;
- All policies, procedures and/or maintenance pertaining to videotaping and/or video monitoring and recording at the subject premises, including but not limited to all video and/or cameras used to monitor the premises and all policies and procedures pertaining to videotape retention policies or documents evidencing any of the same as well as the placement of all video cameras at the premises; and
- All videotapes of the subject premises taken on the day of the incident
If you have been injured by the actions of a drunk driver and have questions about a claim against a bar or restaurant, or any other “dram shop” questions, contact James today. He has handled many of these cases and knows the buttons to press to maximize your recovery.