Could You Have a Dram Shop or Social Host Claim for Compensation for Injuries Caused in an Auto Accident?
If a drunk driver caused your car accident, you could suffer long-term injuries, such as back and neck injuries, spinal cord injuries, paralysis, traumatic brain injury, or internal organ damage. The drunk driver would be primarily responsible for compensating you for your injuries, and you should file a claim with his insurance company. However, he may not have sufficient insurance coverage to pay you all the compensation you deserve for your expensive medical treatments and lost wages during the months that you could not work. Georgia’s Dram Shop and Social Host laws could give you the right to pursue claims against additional parties as well as the negligent driver.
What Is Georgia’s Dram Shop Law?
In a dram shop law claim, the plaintiff alleges that the unlawful selling of alcohol to a minor or to a person who was visibly intoxicated caused or contributed to the crash. In Georgia, a car accident victim can hold a seller of alcohol liable for compensating him if he can prove the following:
- The establishment “willfully, knowingly, and unlawfully” sold alcohol to a minor under the age of 21 years old; or
- The business knowingly sold alcohol to a person who was noticeably intoxicated; and
- The business knew that the minor or intoxicated person would soon be driving a motor vehicle. (This is a requirement that many other states do not have.)
Many parties can be considered sellers of alcohol under Georgia’s Dram Shop Law. Claims can be brought against:
- Night clubs
- Liquor stores
- Convenience stores
- Grocery stores
- Concert venues
- Sports facilities
- Any other business that sells alcohol
Who Can File a Dram Shop Action Claim?
Only certain injured victims are permitted to file a claim against the seller of alcohol under the Dram Shop Law. The drunk driver and his family cannot file a claim for injuries or death under this law. This includes the parents of a minor served alcohol. However, these innocent victims can hold the business accountable:
- Driver of another vehicle
- Passengers in another vehicle
- Passengers in the drunk driver’s vehicle
- Motorcycle rider and his passenger
What Is Georgia’s Social Host Law?
The same law that allows auto accident victims to pursue claims for compensation against the seller of alcohol allows them to pursue a claim against a social host who serves a minor or intoxicated person alcohol who then causes a wreck. The same proof requirements as in dram shop cases apply to social host claims, namely that the alcohol was served to a minor or visibly intoxicated person and the social host knew he would be driving soon. In addition, the drunk driver, his family, or parents of minor who was served alcohol would not be not entitled to compensation.
Who is considered a social host is defined broadly. A victim of a drunk driving accident may be able to hold these parties accountable:
- Individuals hosting social events where alcohol is served
Compensation You Could Be Entitled to Under Georgia’s Dram Shop and Social Host Laws
A dram shop owner or social host could be charged with a criminal misdemeanor offense for serving alcohol to a minor or a person visibly intoxicated. The victim of a car accident may be entitled to restitution as part of the criminal sentence. In addition, victims may also be entitled to the following compensation against the dram shop owner or social host in a civil lawsuit:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Past and future lost wages
- Lost earning capacity if the victim must change careers or is permanently disabled due to his injuries
- Property damages
- Pain and suffering
- Wrongful death damages
- Punitive damages to punish the dram shop owner or social host
Proving a claim against a dram shop owner or social host can be extremely complex. For example, it can be challenging to prove that the drunk driver was sold or served alcohol when he was visibly impaired or that the seller or social host knew that the intoxicated person would be driving soon.
Let Chris Hudson & Associates, Help You Hold the Seller or Social Host Responsible for Compensating You for Your Injuries
Let our experienced car accident attorneys help you hold the dram shop owner or social host accountable for their actions in selling alcohol to the drunk driver who caused your accident. Contact us online or call us directly at (706) 863-6600 to schedule a free consultation. We will discuss your legal options and the next steps you need to take to pursue your claim for compensation.