Free Consultations | Tap To Call Today: 1.888.625.6265

Speak to a Lawyer 24hrs a Day


Free Consultation, Call Now!

A Detailed Look at Dram Shop Laws in Illinois

Schedule Free Case Review

Monday, September 25, 2017

A Detailed Look at Dram Shop Laws in Illinois

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.

What is the Dram Shop Law in Illinois?

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.

The Limits on Dram Shop Liability

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.

Limited Social Host Liability in Illinois

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.

Can You File a Dram Shop Liability Case?

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.

Proving Your Dram Shop Liability Case in Illinois

To prove your case, you must first establish the four unique elements, which include:

  1. Vendor and Patron Relationship – You must establish the relationship between the defendant and the vendor. That means proving that the vendor was the party who served the defendant alcohol. This can be done by showing credit card receipts, witness statements, and video surveillance.
  2. Causation – You must then show that the defendant was the cause of your injuries and damages. That means proving that they were the party at-fault for the accident. You can do this by witness statements, police reports, and other evidence. If the driver was arrested and charged with drunk driving, it makes proving your case easier too.
  3. Proximate Cause – Next, you must show that the alcohol vendor was the proximate cause of intoxication. Was the defendant drunk? Was his blood alcohol content (BAC) over 0.08 percent?
  4. Intoxication Caused One-Third of Injuries – This is the hardest element of a dram shop law case in Illinois. While the law allows you to bring action against a vendor for serving alcohol and a drunk driver causing your injuries, you must show that the intoxication itself caused at least one-third of your injuries.

Dram Shop Act and Special Provisions

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.

How a Personal Injury Attorney Could Help

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:

  1. An attorney is well-versed in dram shop laws and personal injury laws. Your case will branch over two sets of laws: personal injury and dram shop. Therefore, you need someone that is well-versed in both sets of statutes, the legislation affecting them, and case law. An attorney that regularly handles personal injury claims or dram shop cases knows these laws and can represent your case more effectively.
  2. Negotiating fair compensation. An attorney can negotiate fair compensation for your case, including coverage for medical costs, lost wages, pain, suffering, loss of companionship, and future costs all associated with your injuries and the accident.
  3. An attorney understands the value of your case. Putting a dollar amount on the damages and suffering you have endured is not easy – and it is hard for any plaintiff to associate their suffering with a monetary value. An attorney can value your injuries without putting any emotional emphasis on the process – ensuring you get fair value for your case.

Tips for Ensuring You Hire the Right Dram Shop Attorney

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:

  • Years of Experience – Ask the attorney about his or her years of experience specific to dram shop cases and personal injury. Some attorneys do not have as extensive experience in this area of the law, which means they may not have ample case law knowledge or personal experience handling these types of cases in court.
  • Staffing – When you meet with an attorney for a no obligation consultation, you will meet with a lead attorney. While you are there, ask about what other staff members will handle your case, including paralegals, secretaries, or other attorneys in the office. That way you know the team members who will be assigned to your case, can meet them in person, and make sure you feel comfortable with the people you will interact with during your claim.
  • Contingency Fee – Most attorneys that handle personal injury claims use a contingency fee, which means that a percentage of your compensation is taken to pay for the attorney’s time, expertise, and office fees. Every attorney is different; therefore, you may want to find out the percentage, added fees not included, and the cost of a consultation. Also, if your attorney fails and you do not get any recovery – would you still have to pay any costs, or is there no risk to you?

Hire an Injury Attorney Today

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.

Related Posts

Why People Choose Malman Law

You’ll want your lawyers to be this good.
You’ll want our experience on your side.
  • Icon

    Credibility & Experience

    25,000+ Cases over 25 Years
  • Icon

    Track Record of Success

    25,000+ Cases over 25 Years
  • Icon

    Team of Litigation Lawyers

    25,000+ Cases over 25 Years
  • img

    They are very helpful, and when it comes to getting things done with your case I had the pleasure of working with Jason Kellerman he was awesome I highly recommend them.

    - Britany Weaver

  • img

    I’m very pleased to recommend Malman Law to my friends and relatives! I have to mention how efficient and professional in dealing with my case has been with everyone that I’ve been in contact with at Malman Law. Mrs. Sabo is outstanding as well as her secretary and assistant in responding quickly to any of my questions or concerns. This firm has gone above and beyond to keep me updated and get answers to my questions at any time, weekends included! Malman Law rules in my opinion!

    - Cheryl Wagemann

  • img

    I’ve been knowing about this Law firm for many years through friends, referrals & advertisements, never I thought I would need their services because I believed things & situations don’t happen to me like this, long story short I was in a situation that I needed help & advice!!! In the right direction, I connected with the Firm & a very patient, understanding professional woman by the name of Margie assisted me in what I needed 🙂 Thank you I will refer as I was as referred as well This firm really does care!

    - Elvira G.

  • img

    I was rear-ended by a semi-truck on my way to work. I was transported to the hospital and my car was totaled. In the aftermath, Dan Petrich and Anna Schmidt from Malman Law helped me get set up with physical therapy and negotiated with the insurance companies to make sure the resulting settlement would cover my medical bills and a rental car until I could get a new car. I would highly recommend their services.

    would do everything they could for me.

    - Tony S.

  • img

    I contacted Malman Lawafter my work injury. So professional from my first phone call. Mr. Malman’s investigator, Dan, came right out to our home. Everything was explained in detail so I know what to expect during this process. I certainly recommend anyone ever in need of a personal injury lawyer to call Malman Law. Truly the best!! Thanks, everyone!

    - Devin Jones

  • img

    Attorney Greg Lamorena was my lawyer when I slipped and fell. He kept me updated throughout the case and was always available to talk when I had questions. He is a great lawyer and could not be happier about my settlement!

    - Annie Ong

  • img

    Alexis was the attorney on my case! She kept me in the loop about everything with my case. If I had any concerns I was able to contact her and she’ll answer my questions right away. If you’re interested in working with Malman Law I would highly recommend Alexis she was GREAT. I would highly recommend Malman Law if you’re ever in need!

    - Eugenia Cathery

  • img

    They are so efficient and professional. Always available to help. Attorney Boyer was great and very good with my case. I really appreciate Malman Law. I gave them 5 stars because there is nothing higher.

    - Omolewa Snyder

  • img

    I have had an amazing experience with Malman law so far. From the start, Dan was super easy to work with, got me the medical attention I needed, and fast. Couldn’t ask for better communication. Neil Kilcoyne has been nothing but the best I could not recommend a better attorney. Malman Law is a 10 out of 10 law firm.

    - Trevor Harris

  • img

    Hi, I just want to acknowledge Jay McCarron, Kelly & the firm at Malman Law for representing me as they continue to work on my case. Thanks for keeping me updated & responding quickly to any of my questions or concerns. I would highly recommend you and your firm to friends & family. E. P.

    - Ernest Pitts

  • img

    Alexis was the attorney on my case and she was GREAT. She made sure I was updated on everything about my case. I would highly recommend Malman Law if you’re ever in need.

    - Ariel Fleming

  • img

    I had the best experience with Jason and Jay attorneys from Malman Law they really went all the way to settle my case I’m telling you there just the best!! Recommend 100%!

    - Carmen Rivera

  • img

    Adam Meadow acted as the attorney for a family member who was in a car accident. He was highly personable and actively listened to our issues throughout the litigation process. He was able to get us a settlement for the reparations of the accident. We would recommend their services!

    - Greg Gustafson

  • img

    Excellent customer service and a great experience. Malman Law handled the whole process and it was very smooth. The settlement was a great success. I would choose Malman Law again in the future.

    - Malak St.Clair

  • img

    Helped me out of a big jam when my auto was hit twice when and the other drivers had no insurance. Adam Meadow is the only Lawyer I will call for helping me and my daughter.

    - Devri Lott

  • img

    I cannot give enough praise to the team at Malman Law, for helping with my case. My children were involved in an auto collision and the attorney Adam along with his paralegal Michelle worked diligently until the matter was resolved and my entire family was happy. I would definitely recommend Malman Law for anybody going through legal troubles.

    - Adrian Lopez

  • img

    A close friend recommended me to Malman Law. I currently have a case with them due to a car accident I had and ever since the accident they have been taking care of everything for me without me having to worry about anything. They took care of the medical bills & helped me get physical therapy right away. I highly recommend them.

    - Vanessa Leon

  • img

    Bella Feinstein, Jason Kellerman, and Terry Davey have been instrumental in helping me through many difficult situations. Not only did they work to get my mom a settlement, but they have also continued to help me through the legal process of relocating my mom to a different state. I’m very grateful for their hard work and good advice.

    - Nyah Vuljanic

  • img

    This law firm is the best they got me paid and Malman Law kept in constant communication with me which meant a lot to me I would highly recommend this law firm to anyone who. In the position, they are awesome sincerely. Jeff walker

    - Jeff Walker

  • img

    Mr. Kellerman of Malman Law shows compassion for his clients. Returns calls and emails promptly, he takes time to listen to his clients, and gather facts accordingly.

    - Steve Acosta

  • img

    Everyone at Malman Law made me feel welcomed and heard. My lawyer, Adam Meadow, as well as staff, kept me up to date and were more than happy to do so! I would highly recommend their services. Also- a plus is many employees are fluent in Spanish. My experience was easy and worthwhile.

    - Adrianna Gomez

  • img

    Dan Petrich was the best man for my case of falling through my porch of an apartment I rented. He made sure I got what I deserved not only $ wise but medical wise and that my hospital bills and Dr bills were left at a $0 balance before closing my case. I was definitely happy and glad I choose him. Thank you. 5 stars

    - Jose Cruz

  • img

    Steve Malman helped me with my auto case. He quickly responded and answered any and all the questions I had. My case was a success as well as 2 other family members I recommended to him won their cases as well. Definitely a 5 star!

    - Meagan Cruz

  • img
    Malman Law goes above and beyond handling your legal injury case needs. From the first appointment through to the ending verdict my sister and brother in law were very happy with their case results. Highly recommended!

    - Eddie Villarreal

  • img

    I am very impressed with Malman Law and my experience with Tiffany Alberty. She was very professional and knowledgeable. I appreciate the great communication and never felt out of the loop. She was very patient and hard working on my case. I would highly recommend this firm. Thanks for the hard work and all your help!

    - Madissen Miller

  • img

    Malman Law is definitely professionals and skilled at what they do. Mr. Adam Meadow always kept me informed and never hesitated to answer my questions and was open to hearing my concerns. Wouldn’t think twice about referring them to family and friends. Thank you to all at Malman Law!

    - Christina Ocon

  • img

    Mailman Law, Excellent firm!! Tiffany Alberty and her assistant Margie Gallegos were super efficient and knowledgeable. Great communication—very quick response and great follow up! My case was resolved sooner than expected. I highly recommend them!

    - Adriana Martinez

  • img

    So glad I contacted Malman Law regarding my accident. Professional and caring. Thank you Mr. Malman. I most definitely recommend to anyone if you need the best to call Malman Law!!!

    - Virgil Sanner

  • img

    I really appreciated and enjoyed Yennin Calderon’s service. I called asking questions and she was so helpful. Not only did she answer all my questions and concerns. It was also a bonus that she was bilingual in Spanish! Loved the warmth she brought. Thank you!

    - Jazlyn Caraballo

  • img

    My experience with Malman Law was great. I worked with Attorney Tiffany Alberty and her assistant Margie. Both communicated what was going on with my case, explained the next steps, and got my case resolved early. I would highly recommend Malman Law.

    - Ashley Jenkins

View more testimonials

What’s your case worth? Submit for a free case review



2 years ago I was involved in a trucking accident involving a 14-wheeler truck that nearly disabled me for life. Steve fought to make sure that I received the most possible compensation for my injuries. I was about to take the insurance company’s lowball offer, but decided to call Steve first – it was the best decision I’ve made yet

NOAH TAFFELPersonal Injury Victim