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2024 Personal Injury

Can You Sue a Bar for a Drunk Driving Accident?

Driving under the influence is a serious offense that can carry significant criminal penalties. However, drunk drivers may also be on the hook for civil liability where they cause injuries to others. While the drivers in these types of car accidents are primarily to blame for the injuries they cause, in some cases the party who served the driver — including bars and social hosts — may also face liability. If you have been injured by a drunk driver who was over-served before the accident, you should speak to a Tifton personal injury lawyer to discuss your options for legal recovery.  

Georgia’s Dram Shop and Social Host Liability Law 

A “dram shop” is a legal term that refers to an establishment that sells alcohol to members of the public. Certain states, including Georgia, have passed dram shop laws that impose liability on such establishments. Georgia’s dram shop law also imposes liability on social hosts who serve alcohol to their guests in some scenarios. 

Under Georgia law, a person who sells, furnishers, or serves alcohol to a person may be liable for injury, death, or damage caused by that person’s intoxication when he or she: 

  • Willfully, knowingly, and unlawfully sells, furnishes, or serves alcoholic beverages to a person who is not of lawful drinking age, knowing that that person will soon be driving a motor vehicle
  • Knowingly sells, furnishes, or serves alcohol to a person who is in a state of noticeable intoxication, knowing that that person will soon be driving a motor vehicle 

Georgia’s dram shop law permits a cause of action only by third parties who are injured by the consumer of the alcohol’s behavior; it does not permit the consumer of alcohol to recover damages from the provider of the alcohol for the consumer’s own injuries. 

Elements of a Dram Shop Claim 

Dram shop claims typically are brought against bars, restaurants, liquor stores, convenience stores, and concert and sporting venues when the employees of those establishments continue to serve patrons who are visibly intoxicated. To prevail on a dram shop claim, the plaintiff must prove the following elements: 

  1. The establishment or social host served alcohol to a patron or guest
  2. The server knew or should have known that the consumer of the alcohol was underage or intoxicated
  3. The server knew that the consumer would soon be driving a motor vehicle
  4. The consumer caused injuries or damages to a third party 

Exception to Liability

As with most personal injury laws, there is a major exception to Georgia’s dram shop law. A person who owns, leases, or occupies a property where the consumption of alcohol is taking place is not liable for damages or injuries caused by an intoxicated person if they (a) were not present and (b) did not consent to alcohol being served. This exception could apply, for example, in the case of a teenager who throws a party while their parents are out of town. The parents would not be liable for any injuries or damages caused by a drunk driver leaving the party if they were unaware of and did not consent to the consumption of alcohol on their property

Speak to a Tifton Personal Injury Lawyer for More Information About Pursuing Dram Shop Claims

For more information about pursuing dram shop claims in Georgia, please contact a Tifton personal injury lawyer at the Hudson Injury Firm by calling 229-396-5848 or using our online form