What Are Dram Shops, and How Does Indiana Law Implicate Them in Drunk Driving Cases?

The term "dram shop" originated in the 1700s in England, when the beverage gin was measured out in units called drams. Legally speaking, a dram shop is any restaurant, bar, tavern, or other company that serves liquor to patrons. Dram shop owners have a legal responsibility not to provide alcoholic beverages to minors and not to serve customers who are visibly intoxicated. These rules also apply to hosts in social situations.

In the event that a minor drinks at a dram shop and then gets into an accident or hurts himself or others, the dram shop may be partially liable for injuries and damages. Similarly, if an of-age but clearly intoxicated patron causes damage, Indiana law states the dram shop can be held liable.

Other states, such as Kentucky and Illinois, also have strict dram shop accountability laws. But several states, such as Nevada, have absolutely no dram laws on the books.

Famous Dram Shop Case

In 1999, a man at a New York Giants football game drank himself to nearly twice the state’s legal limit. On his way home, he got into a car accident that injured a child, a six-year old girl, who was left paralyzed. The court awarded the victim $135 million in compensation, and the liable parties included not only the vendor who served him the alcohol (the Aramark Corporation) but also the National Football League and the New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority.

How to Determine If You Have a Dram Shop Liability Case

A detailed investigation into the behavior of the alleged drunk driver is likely necessary. Be aware that the statute of liability on claims is limited; if you wait too long to file a dram shop injury claim, you may not get due compensation for your pain, suffering, and medical bills.

Call our firm toll-free at 1-800-278-9200 to speak with Indianapolis drunk driving attorney Randy Sevenish. He has more than three decades of experience, and has settled and achieved strong verdicts for dozens of clients. Read more about the firm here on our Indiana personal injury website.