When someone suffers harm by an inebriated person, several jurisdictions enable the injured person to seek damages. These damages come not only from the individual who caused the injury. They also come from someone who provided them with alcohol. Third-party claims, on the other hand, usually require particular conditions. An allegation against an alcohol seller is a “dram shop lawsuit,” whereas claims against non-vendors are “social host liability claims.”
At Ybarra Maldonado Law Group, our Phoenix personal injury attorneys are well-versed in dram shop lawsuits. We fight aggressively for our clients’ cases, and we’ll fight for yours too. Injuries aren’t just injuries. They often affect your life, livelihood, and even happiness in some cases. That’s why it’s important to hold all responsible parties accountable for their actions. For more information on how we can handle your case, or to schedule a consultation with us, call 602-910-4040 today. You can also fill out our online intake form.
What Is a Dram Shop?
A dram shop is an alcohol-serving bar or restaurant. The word comes from the time when bars sold alcohol by the dram, a unit of measurement. Arizona is one of the states having dram shop laws. They say that if someone causes an accident while under the influence of alcohol, the individual who sustained harm in the accident can file a personal injury claim against the business that supplied the alcohol. Of course, dram shop liability does not apply to all alcohol-related accidents. An experienced Phoenix personal injury lawyer is the best person to determine whether you have grounds for a dram shop liability case against a drinking establishment.
Dram Shop Laws in Arizona
An alcohol seller (someone who has a license to sell alcohol) holds responsibility for the injuries or damages caused by an inebriated person. This holds if the vendor supplied the person with alcohol and the person was one of the following.
- Clearly and visibly intoxicated
- Below the legal drinking age, and the seller knew the customer was under 21, or they did not ask for an ID
Here’s an example of this law in action. John went to the bar one evening and had too many drinks. He decides to drive home while inebriated, and gets into an accident, injuring the driver of the other vehicle. While he was at the bar earlier, John obviously had too much to drink. However, the bartender continued to serve him alcohol. The injured driver of the vehicle that John hit can sue both John and the bar he came from in a dram shop lawsuit in Arizona.
What Are Social Hosting Laws in Arizona?
The first thing to think about is who qualifies as a social host. A social host is someone who organizes a gathering of any size, from a small supper for two to a huge business party. A social host can be an individual (for example, someone who throws a party at their house), a company, or a group of individuals. It makes no difference how big the event is. It might range from a single visitor to thousands of people. The party’s location is also unimportant.
When all of the following conditions are satisfied, a social host is accountable for damage, both bodily and economic, experienced as a result of an intoxicated visitor who causes injury to a third party under general legal principles.
- The individual who caused the injury or property damage was offered alcohol by the social host.
- The social host was aware of, or should have been aware of, the intoxication of the individual who caused the personal harm or property damage.
- Lastly, the social host was aware that the individual responsible for the bodily injury or property damage would be driving following the event.
For liability to emerge under the social host liability principles, all of these conditions are necessary. If a social host’s visitor injures someone or something while inebriated, the social host is not inherently responsible. The social host is only responsible if all of the above conditions are satisfied.
Vendor vs Social Host Liability
Arizona explicitly exempts social hosts from civil responsibility if they provide alcohol to visitors who are of legal drinking age. However, the law does not prevent a social host from being sued if he or she serves alcohol to minors. Therefore, social hosts are exempt from civil liability, but vendors are not.
When Does Dram Shop Liability Apply?
The majority of alcohol-related accidents occur due to no fault of the establishment where the individual who caused the accident became intoxicated. The following elements are necessary in order for to file a dram shop lawsuit.
- First, the person appeared visibly drunk, to the point that the bartender or restaurant server would have noticed.
- Before the accident, the person must have drunk alcohol.
- The proximate cause of the accident was their getting at the bar.
What Damages Can You Recover in a Dram Shop Lawsuit?
Dram shop rules allow a drunk driving accident victim or their family to sue the bar, restaurant, or store that supplied the alcohol to the irresponsible driver for damages. It also means that the victim must prove both proximate causation. They also must prove that they obtained alcohol through an improper process. In these situations, proximate causation means that there is a direct link between the intoxication and harm or property damage. Additionally, if someone causes severe property damage in a drunk driving incident, they can be charged under the ARS criminal damage statute.
In comparison to the intoxicated driver, the business institution that provided the alcohol is likely to have far greater insurance coverage and assets to settle a claim if held responsible. The following are examples of damages for which a victim or their family may be entitled to compensation in a dram shop lawsuit.
- Current and future medical expenses
- Current and future loss of income
- Property damage expenses
- Pain and suffering, plus mental anguish
- Disability, scarring, or disfigurement
- Wrongful death costs, including funeral or burial expenses
The dram shop legislation in Arizona does, however, include an exemption. If the injured person was there at the time the drunk person drank alcohol and knew of the person’s intoxication, the commercial establishment does not hold responsibility.
Statute of Limitations in a Dram Shop Lawsuit
The “statute of limitations” is a time constraint that applies to dram shop and social host liability lawsuits. These sorts of claims must be submitted within two years after the injury or property damage in Arizona, according to the statute of limitations. However, each situation is unique. Therefore, it’s essential to consult with an attorney as quickly as possible following an accident. This is to ensure that they preserve your rights. Read our related blog about Arizona hit and run laws to learn more about potential penalties and damages available in these cases.
When Should I Hire a Dram Shop Lawsuit Attorney?
Although hiring a Phoenix car accident lawyer is not needed and may appear to be an unnecessary expenditure, having an experienced lawyer on your side gives you a far higher chance of winning your case. Dram shop liability claims are complex. Navigating state rules to show proximate causation without the assistance of a lawyer can be challenging. An accident lawyer can also help by reducing the stress that comes with dealing with insurance companies. They will also fight for your rights in a court of law.
Call Ybarra Maldonado Law Group Today
Unfortunately, in highly populated areas like Phoenix, drinking and driving happens. It is highly illegal and extremely dangerous, but that doesn’t always stop people from doing it. It also doesn’t stop extreme DUI Arizona charges. Dram shop lawsuit attorneys with Ybarra Maldonado Law Group are here to get the compensation you deserve for someone else’s carelessness. For qualified representation in your case, please call 602-910-4040 today, or fill out our online intake form.