38 states, including Alabama, hold bars and similar vendors responsible for the actions of an intoxicated patron if the bar serves that person alcohol when he or she is noticeably intoxicated. The laws in place in this area are known as Dram Shop Acts.
The word “dramshop” is defined as a place where alcohol is sold in small units. Legislatures nationally have used the term to refer to the liability imposed on bars and the like for serving alcohol to intoxicated patrons.
Alabama Dram Shop law
In 1986, a group of intoxicated minors driving from a party collided with another vehicle, injuring the passengers. The injured passengers sued the sponsor of the party and the owner of the cabin where the party was held for violations of, among other things. the Alabama Dram Shop Act. The trial court entered summary judgment for the defendants. This court affirmed the summary judgment for the cabin owner but held that there was a cause of action against the sponsor of the party under the Dram Shop Act. A concurring and dissenting opinion argued that the defendant sponsor, a service organization that was not a licensed vendor of alcoholic beverages, was not liable under the Dram Shop Act and made the analogy to liability Jaw, which did not apply to a housewife who, on one occasion, sold her neighbor a jar of jam or a pound of sugar.
The Dram Shop Law generally prohibits bars and similar places from serving alcohol to those who are noticeable intoxicated. The law makes vendors responsible for the acts of an intoxicated person. The language also states that a person who is injured “by any intoxicated person or in consequence of the intoxication of any person” may file a lawsuit against any person or business that provided alcohol to the intoxicated person “contrary to the provisions of law.” In the above case, the sponsors of the party may be liable for negligence because serving alcohol to minors is “contrary to the provisions of the law.”
Personal injury lawsuit involves two parties, the plaintiff and the defendant. Dram shop cases involve the plaintiff, the defendant, and the third party who violated the law by serving alcohol to someone noticeably intoxicated or by serving it illegally.
The statute of limitations in Alabama require that the plaintiff file the case within two years of the date of injury. If the case is not filed within that time limit, the court will refuse to consider it.
Generally, the filing of a related personal injury claim does not affect the statute of limitations for a dram shop claim. For example, if someone injured in an automobile accident files a personal injury claim against a drunk driver who injures him in a crash he can still must file a dram shop claim against the bar or entity that illegally dispensed alcohol within two years of the date of injury.
If you have been injured in accident due to drunk driving, hire an attorney experienced and knowledgeable in Dram Shop Laws. Hire the firm of Parkman White, experienced litigators for the injured.