An intoxicated person that causes an injury or damage to a third party is liable for their actions. However, when a bar or restaurant knowingly serves an intoxicated person, then they too could be liable under dram shop laws.
In the state of Illinois, the Dram Shop Act or Liquor Control Act, holds all alcohol-serving establishments accountable for their actions. This includes bars, clubs, and restaurants. They are liable of the actions of not only them serving, but the actions of those they serve.
If you think that you have a potential dram shop liability case, you must speak with an attorney. Only an attorney can help determine if you have a valid claim and bring your case to the court. Dram shop laws are extremely complex, and while we go over them here, these laws are continually changing. Therefore, it is best that you consult with an attorney who has experience handling these types of cases.
Under the Illinois General Statutes, a person injured by a drunk driver can bring a claim against the alcohol vendor that served that driver. The claim can include damages for medical costs, lost wages, property damage, and other personal injury costs. The injured can bring a claim against the individual driving as well as the alcohol vendor.
Unlike other states, Illinois is unique in how they approach their dram shop cases.
The state does not require that the vendor serve the defendant even after they appear intoxicated to be held liable. Instead, it is enough that the vendor supplied the alcohol and the defendant was driving drunk to hold them liable.
While the dram shop laws in Illinois are quite favorable for the plaintiff, there are limitations to these laws. The laws does not allow plaintiffs to bring a claim against social hosts.
Dram shop laws typically include social host liability, which means if the intoxicated person came from a private party at someone’s house – and not a licensed vendor – that social host could still be liable for the damages caused.
Sadly, social hosts are immune from dram shop cases in the state. There is limited social host liability, but only if the person who was intoxicated was under the legal drinking age. Therefore, if they are younger than 21 years old, and they became intoxicated at a private party, then the host of that party is liable for the injuries and damages.
The Illinois dram shop laws hold commercial establishments responsible for any damages caused by drunk patrons. Like it was stated earlier, these companies do not have to knowingly serve an intoxicated person. Instead, the act of serving alcohol at all can make them liable if that person causes an accident.
While this sounds simple enough, you still must meet the basic requirements of an injury claim – combined with the special circumstances of a dram shop law case – to bring a suit against the vendor.
To prove your case, you must first establish the four unique elements, which include:
Illinois has special provisions in their dram shop act that allows the state’s laws to apply over state lines. However, these laws are only enforced across state lines where the neighboring state has an act similar enough to ours.
For example, a defendant drank alcohol in an Illinois establishment, then they drove to Kentucky where they caused a drunk driving accident. In this case, the vendor in Illinois would still be liable for the damages if Kentucky’s laws are like the Illinois laws. If Kentucky does not have similar dram shop laws, then the bar in Illinois would not be liable for the injuries caused in Kentucky.
Sadly, most states do not have laws similar enough to Illinois – because most states require that the establishment knowingly serve a person who is obviously intoxicated. Illinois is one of the few states where the law does not require such knowledge; therefore, you will be hard pressed to find a state enforcing similar laws.
A personal injury attorney is a vital resource in a case like this. Dram shop laws are complex, and finding the evidence necessary to prove that the driver was intoxicated from his or her drinks at a specific establishment is much harder than you might think.
Hiring an attorney helps you with these types of cases tremendously. Just some benefits to doing so include:
If you suspect that you have a dram shop case, you want to find the right attorney to represent your claim and get you the compensation you deserve. Therefore, while you are narrowing down your options, consider the following:
If you or a loved one was injured in an accident with a drunken driver, you have the right to seek compensation. Speak with an injury attorney today from Malman Law. Our Illinois attorneys understand what you and your family are going through and we want to help.
Our team offers no-obligation consultations and there is no risk to meet with us.
Schedule your consultation today by calling our office, or by scheduling your consultation online.
Malman Law’s founder Attorney Steven Malman has over 30 years of experience handling personal injury, nursing home, medical malpractice, truck accidents, car accidents, premises liability, construction, and workers’ compensation cases in Chicago, IL.
Years of experience: +30 years
Illinois Registration Status: Active and authorized to practice law—Last Registered Year: 2023