Dram Shop Claims
When a drunk driver kills or injures someone, their victim can bring a claim against the drunk driver. However, as Fairfield Dram Shop Lawyers we know that we may be able to bring what is called a Dram Shop claim as well. A “dram” is a small measure of alcohol. “Dram shops” are bars, restaurants and stores that sell alcohol. So, a dram shop claim seeks to hold the seller of the alcohol responsible.
Each state has its own dram shop laws. In Connecticut we have Connecticut General Statutes Section 30-102. To bring a dram shop claim in Connecticut you must provide notice to the seller of the alcohol within 120 days of the injury, of your intention to bring a dram shop action against the seller. In the notice you must “specify the time, the date and the person to whom such sale was made, the name and address of the person injured or whose property was damaged, and the time, date and place where the injury to person or property occurred.”. In the case of a fatality, you have 180 days to provide the notice. The statute of limitations for filing the actual lawsuit is one year from the date of service of the alcohol.
As Fairfield Dram Shop Lawyers, we know the challenges of providing the notice. In the case of a fatality, it typically takes the CT State Police a year to issue their reports. Therefore, you may not have any information as to where the person was drinking until after the time for the notice has expired. Or, the police report if issued timely may not reference where the person was drinking as the driver is not providing that information to the police. We work with prosecutors and defense counsel to try to find those answers. We also have a private investigator who can track the whereabouts of the drunk driver. It is very important to hire counsel as soon as possible after an accident involving alcohol so the attorney can start working on putting that notice together.
In Connecticut, you can not sue a dram shop for negligence in its service of alcohol to the drunk driver if the driver is over 21 years of age. You can sue the dram shop for recklessness in its service of the alcohol. To hold the bar liable as Fairfield Dram Shop Lawyers we must prove that the driver was “visibly intoxicated” at the time of purchase. That means that the driver was exhibiting signs of being intoxicated but was still served any way. If you are successful in proving your dram shop action, your damages are capped at $250,000.00 even in the case of a fatality.
Proving visible intoxication to the bartender is difficult as the bartender will typically deny knowing that the person was intoxicated. Bartenders are busy at night and are typically dealing with lots of customers. If the person is not running a tab, but rather paying for their drinks as they go along it can be hard to keep track. Also, the bartender does not know if the person is a driver or passenger. People buy drinks for their friends, and it is hard to know what drinks are going where. Good bars and restaurants will often require their bartenders to undergo what is called TIPS training. During TIPS training, the bartenders learn to watch for the signs of intoxication such as slurred speech, bloodshot eyes, balance, and coordination issues. If the customer is exhibiting those signs and is still served, the dram shop is likely to be sued.
If you think you may have a dram shop claim, contact the attorneys at Robinson Mahoney as soon as possible.