When a drunk driver causes a crash that hurts other people or causes substantial property damage, that driver typically bears financial liability for their decisions and the consequences thereof. Unfortunately, that could mean that the victims of the drunk driving crash have few options for compensation, particularly if the driver winds up incarcerated as a result of their actions.
Recognizing that liability in these situations can sometimes be complex can help surviving family members of someone who died in a drunk driving crash, or an injured person recovering after a drunk driving crash, determine if other options for compensation may be available.
In certain circumstances, a bar or restaurant that served alcohol to the drunk driver prior to the crash may have some liability for the ensuing collision.
Minnesota dram shop laws require proper behavior by a bar or a restaurant
Facilities that serve alcohol have to secure licensing in order to do so. The terms of those licenses include total compliance with state alcohol laws. That means that the establishment cannot serve alcohol to someone under the age of 21. It must also stop serving alcohol to individuals who are already visibly under the influence.
Under Minnesota law, continuing to serve someone who is clearly drunk or furnishing alcohol to a minor can generate substantial liability for the business if that patron leaves the facility and then causes a crash.
Establishing dram shop liability is often relatively straightforward
In order to demonstrate that a business is partially responsible for a drunk-driving crash, a victim of that crash or their lawyer will need to demonstrate to the courts that the bar or restaurant in question violated the law or the terms of their liquor license.
Forensic evidence that shows the driver had a high blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at the time of the crash will likely help your case, especially if the collision happened directly after that person left that business. The higher the BAC of the driver and the sooner after paying their tab that they caused the crash, the stronger the connection between the business’ service of that individual and their intoxicated state on the road.
In the event that a minor is the one who caused the crash, there may be little question about the illegality of the service, especially if the wait staff knows the minor and could not reasonably claim that they provided a fake ID or otherwise tricked the business into serving them.
Dram shop cases help those struggling with the fallout of a drunk driving crash by giving them more options for financial compensation. Additionally, these cases service an important reminder to businesses that serve alcohol that they have an obligation to the public to be responsible in how they do so.