The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that an alcohol-related accident occurs every 32 minutes in this country. More than 10,000 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes in 2010. In Illinois, a person is considered intoxicated if their blood alcohol level meets or exceeds .08. If you were hurt in an accident and the other driver was intoxicated, this is an aggravating factor that impacts the value of the claim and how your claim will proceed.
Lawsuits may include punitive damages designed to punish the driver, as juries are less likely to be sympathetic when a drunk driver causes a crash rather than someone who made a mistake. In addition to filing a claim against the other driver, Illinois law allows for potential liability claims that may arise against a bar or tavern under the Illinois Dram Shop Act.
Dram Shop Act
The state of Illinois recognizes the high number of accidents and deaths caused by drunk drivers every year, and the fact that it is foreseeable that a drunk person leaving a bar could hurt someone in a car accident. For this reason, Illinois places a high duty of car on bar keepers. Dram Shop liability laws in Illinois are designed to provide financial disincentives for liquor license holders to serve alcohol to already intoxicated customers to reduce drunk driving accidents.
The Dram Shop Act provides that every person injured by an intoxicated person as a result of the intoxication has a claim against any person who sold or gave the alcohol causing the intoxication, except private people providing alcohol. The amount of damages that may be sought in a Dram Shop claim is limited by the statute, and varies by year. In order to succeed in a Dram Shop claim, you must prove:
- The defendant was intoxicated at the time of the accident,
- The defendant sold or gave alcohol that caused the intoxication (which could be foreseen),
- The defendant’s intoxication was at least one factor in the accident,
- As a result of the accident, you suffered damage or injury.
Dram Shop claims have a one-year statute of limitations, as opposed to the two-year limit for other personal injury claims.
Because it can take time to identify the right liquor licensee and corporate defendant, it’s important to consult with an experienced Chicago personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.
Who is Eligible to Make a Dram Shop Claim?
The Dram Shop Act offers relief for individuals who personally suffered an injury to themselves, their property or their means of support. If the breadwinner of the family is no longer able to work, for example, the spouse may make the claim. Innocent parties who were injured, their estate and their families may bring a Dram Shop lawsuit, including passengers in a vehicle driven by an intoxicated person. The intoxicated individual and his or her estate are barred from suing the vendor for damages under the Dram Shop Act.
If you or a loved one have been hurt by an intoxicated person, you may have a personal injury case against the restaurant or bar that served the alcohol. Contact Agruss Law Firm, LLC, for a free consultation. We are a Chicago injury law firm representing individuals and families who have suffered injuries caused by a drunk driver or intoxicated person.
Agruss Law Firm, LLC, will handle your case quickly, will advise you every step of the way, and will not hesitate to go to trial for you. Lastly, Agruss Law Firm, LLC, does not get paid attorney’s fees unless we win your case. Our no-¬fee promise is that simple. Therefore, you have nothing to risk when you hire us—just the opportunity to seek justice.