Holding a Third Party Responsible for an Alcohol-Related Accident
Alcohol-related accidents happen all too often, resulting in serious injuries and deaths. When an at-fault driver is found intoxicated after an accident, the injured victim may be able to file a claim against him or her. But what about the third party who served the alcohol to the driver?
In Minnesota, a vendor (such as a bar or restaurant) or social host (such as at a house party) generally cannot be held liable if they served alcohol to an adult who then causes an accident. However, a bar could be jointly responsible if they served alcohol to a minor who then caused an injury or death. This also holds true if the bar serves an obviously intoxicated person who later causes a crash.
If you have been harmed or lost a loved one due to an intoxicated driver, TSR Injury Law is here to help. Our firm offers free initial consultations with no risks or obligations. We are well-versed in dram shop laws and social host liability. Our firm has a proven track record of recovering millions in compensation on behalf of our clients.
Understanding Minnesota’s Dram Shop Law
Minnesota’s dram shop law says a third party could potentially be held liable for the actions of a drunk driver if:
- Alcohol was served illegally.
- The sale of alcohol played a role in the driver getting drunk.
- Drunkenness caused your injury.
- You suffered damages – such as medical costs or lost wages.
Generally, the third party cannot be held liable unless alcohol was served to a minor or served to an obviously intoxicated customer. Investigation is vitally important to prove a dram shop. How can we prove a person was overserved? What witnesses were at the bar? What employees were on the clock and what was their training to make sure they do not overserve customers? What drinks were served and can we find credit card receipts to prove it? Is there video of a customer falling down or acting drunk, yet kept getting served? Necessary evidence often disappears over time. Memories fade or receipts get lost. Videos get erased or recorded over. The blood alcohol of the driver is often not enough evidence by itself to prove over serving.
In addition to evidence being tough to gather, bars aggressively defend these claims. If accused of serving a minor, they may claim a fake I.D. was used. If accused of overserving, they may argue there is no video, that a friend came to their bar and took the alcohol back to a table so the bar tender never saw the obvious intoxication, or they may argue the driver left their bar and went to another bar before causing the crash. The claimant has the burden to prove the claim. The bar simply has to poke holes in the evidence.
Social Host Liability for Underage Drinking
A social host is an adult who hosts parties where alcohol is served on a property he or she owns, leases or otherwise controls. For instance, parents may allow their underage children and underage friends to consume alcohol in their home.
However, this is illegal. If a social host served alcohol to a minor who then drives while intoxicated and injures someone else in an accident, he or she could be sued for negligence.
Taking Legal Action Against a Third Party
Anyone injured or killed in an alcohol-related accident by an underage driver may be eligible to bring a claim for damages against any third party who knowingly provided alcohol to the minor.
Vendors or social hosts cannot be held responsible unless your attorney can prove negligence played a role in the accident and your injuries. In other words, your lawyer must establish a third party had a legal duty to act as another reasonable entity would have by refusing to serve alcohol to someone not of legal drinking age.
Having legal representation on your side would be beneficial in these cases. Our experienced Bloomington car accident attorneys are prepared to conduct a thorough investigation and gather evidence to help build a strong case for compensation on your behalf.
Damages Available for Alcohol-Related Accidents
The amount and types of damages injured victims of alcohol-related accident could recover will vary. However, some damages that may be available include:
- Medical bills to help treat the injury
- Lost wages and benefits if unable to work
- Property damage caused by the accident
- Pain and suffering, both mental and physical
No Upfront Fees for Our Legal Services
TSR Injury Law is ready to hold those responsible for your injuries accountable. We have decades of experience pursuing compensation for car crash victims. To date, our firm has recovered millions of dollars in compensation on behalf of Minnesota residents.
Call us today to discuss your potential case in a free initial consultation. We do not charge upfront fees to represent you and no costs unless we are successful in recovering damages for you.
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