Did you know that in Indiana, any bar or restaurant who knowingly serves alcoholic beverages to someone who appears to be intoxicated can be sued if that person then is involved in an automobile accident with another person and injures or kills the other person? They can according to Indiana Code § 7.1-5-10-15.5(b)(1)-(2). In addition, bars can be found liable if the person drinking is over 21 or older and suffers injury or death due to the overintoxication. Indiana Code § 7.1-5-10-15.5(c).
This statute, also known as a dram shop act, is meant to discourage bars and restaurants who serve alcohol from overserving their patrons and to decrease the number and threat of drunk drivers in our state. In addition, it helps provide compensation to accident victims and their families in cases where the drunk driver ends up going to jail and/or has no money to pay any judgment for the victim’s injuries. In these cases, often the bar will carry insurance coverage to protect itself against such claims which can provide money to pay for the medical expenses, physical therapy or other needed expenses for the victim.
Even though individuals should ultimately be responsible for their own actions, our legislature agreed that in cases where people are overserved, that alcohol can sometimes prevent them from realizing the consequences of their own actions.
As you might imagine, bars often will deny liability for the actions of drunk drivers even though they knowingly served someone an excessive number of drinks, far in excess of the amount needed to make that person legally intoxicated.
If you or a loved one has been injured at the hands of a drunk driver, you should seek the assistance of a lawyer who has handled dram shop cases.