Have you ever seen someone intoxicated in a bar or restaurant but still being served alcohol? What if they cause an accident on the way home -- is the bar or restaurant liable for serving alcohol to the intoxicated person?
The answer in most states and the District of Columbia is, “Yes.” You can sue the bar or restaurant to hold them responsible for the injury. It’s called “dram shop” liability. (The term “dram shop” comes from the old English measurement of alcohol, which was sold by the dram.)
Unfortunately, the answer in Maryland and Virginia is, “No.” Neither state has dram shop liability, and they do not allow victims of drunk drivers to hold the bar or restaurant who served the alcohol legally responsibility.
But even in states where there is dram shop liability, proving it can be tricky. The element of causation is usually the biggest challenge – that the serving of the alcohol caused the accident, rather than the choice to drink it or some other intervening event happening after the intoxicated person leaves the bar.
Of course, you can sue the drunk driver for your damages, and their insurance company will be on the hook. And some jurisdictions – the District of Columbia and Virginia – also allow you to recover punitive damages against the drunk driver. Maryland, unfortunately, does not.
If you’re injured by a drunk driver in a car crash, call us for a free consultation. Our goal is to maximize your compensation and ensure you get the medical care you need to make the best recovery.
Dedicated to protecting and advancing your rights,