In the aftermath of an accident involving a drunk driver, it’s easy to attribute blame solely to the driver. In most cases, he or she is the liable party, which means you can file a claim against that drunk driver to recover compensation for your losses.
Nevertheless, in both Missouri and Illinois, there exists a legal concept that extends liability beyond the intoxicated individual. This legal framework is known as “dram shop” law. These laws hold establishments that serve alcohol responsible for their actions if they negligently contributed to the driver’s intoxication, which subsequently resulted in the accident. In light of the pressing issue of drunk driving incidents across the nation, these laws underscore the importance of making alcohol-serving establishments accountable for their role in these tragic events.
What are dram shop laws in Missouri and Illinois?
In both Missouri and Illinois, “dram shop” laws have been enacted to establish liability for establishments that serve alcohol to visibly intoxicated individuals, who later become the cause of a car accident while under the influence. This legal principle permits victims not only to seek compensation from the intoxicated driver but also from the establishment that negligently provided them with alcohol, whether a restaurant, bar, restaurant, nightclub, lounge or pub.
- Missouri: Within the framework of Missouri’s dram shop law, victims have the right to hold alcohol-serving establishments responsible if they furnished alcohol to a visibly intoxicated individual who subsequently played a pivotal role in a drunk driving accident. This legal provision is designed to curb over-serving practices, thus mitigating the potential for accidents resulting from impaired driving.
- Illinois: In a similar way, Illinois has adopted a dram shop law that empowers victims to initiate legal action against establishments that unlawfully serve alcohol to individuals visibly impaired by intoxication. By holding such establishments accountable, these laws underscore the significance of promoting responsible alcohol service and its role in curbing drunk driving accidents.
Even if there is a high volume of patrons at the establishment, servers must be cognizant to not over-serve each individual, otherwise their employer can be held accountable for any drunk driving accidents.
Can I seek compensation after a drunk driving accident?
A drunk driving accident can reverberate far beyond the initial impact, causing extensive physical, emotional, and financial hardships for victims. Fortunately, you have the legal right to pursue compensation for various damages through a personal injury lawsuit. These damages encompass a range of losses incurred due to the accident:
- Medical expenses: You are entitled to seek compensation for medical bills stemming from hospital stays, surgeries, rehabilitation, and ongoing medical treatments necessitated by the accident. These expenses can accumulate rapidly and often constitute a significant portion of the financial burden shouldered by victims.
- Lost wages: Injuries sustained in a drunk driving accident can lead to missed workdays and, in some cases, long-term disability. You can seek reimbursement for income lost due to your injuries, as well as compensation for potential future income losses resulting from your impaired ability to work.
- Pain and suffering: Beyond physical injuries, you may endure physical pain, emotional distress, and psychological trauma as a result of the accident. Compensation can be sought for these intangible yet profound losses that impact your overall well-being.
- Property damage: When a drunk driving accident damages your personal property, such as vehicles or personal belongings, you can seek coverage for repair or replacement costs. This can alleviate the financial strain of repairing or replacing essential assets.
- Quality of life: The injuries sustained in a drunk driving accident can curtail your ability to engage in activities that you once enjoyed, leading to a diminished quality of life. Compensation can be pursued to address this loss of enjoyment and help you regain a semblance of normalcy in life.
Dangerous uptick in drunk driving deaths
Drunk driving accidents inflict grave injuries and tragically claim lives, underscoring the gravity of this issue in both Missouri and Illinois. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA), the United States witnesses around 37 fatalities daily due to drunk-driving collisions – an alarming frequency of one life lost every 39 minutes. In 2021, the toll reached 13,384 lives lost due to alcohol-impaired driving, marking a distressing 14% increase from the previous year. Each of these fatalities could have been prevented through responsible choices on the part of both drivers and servers.
According to the NHTSA’s 2021 Crashstats Report, Missouri recorded 290 alcohol-impaired driving fatalities, constituting approximately 29% of the state’s total traffic-related deaths. These incidents highlight the urgent need for proactive measures and interventions to mitigate the impact of such accidents.
In Illinois, during the same year, there were 461 fatalities linked to alcohol-impaired driving, accounting for about 35% of all traffic-related deaths. These alarming statistics underline the immediate necessity for concerted efforts to combat and diminish the prevalence of drunk driving incidents.
Filing a personal injury lawsuit can help you provide for yourself and your family during this challenging time after your accident. The Alton-based team of personal injury and dram shop lawyers at Glisson Law can also provide you with some level of closure, knowing that the person and the establishment responsible for this accident will be held accountable.
Based in Alton, we at Glisson Law proudly serve Belleville, Edwardsville, St. Clair and Madison counties, all of Southwestern Illinois and Missouri. Call or contact us today for your free consultation.