When someone is injured by a drunk driver, the injured person has the right to pursue a claim for negligence against the driver. In addition to the negligence claim, the injured person may also have a Dram Shop cause of action.
TheIllinois Liquor Control Act, also known as the Dram Shop Act, gives any person injured by an intoxicated person the right to sue the intoxicated person, the vendor or person who sold the liquor to the intoxicated person, and the owner of the premises at which the intoxicated person became intoxicated, if it is in the business of selling liquor for a profit. Essentially, if the business is responsible for causing that person to become intoxicated illegally, the business owner may be liable. This area of the law is known as Dram Shop Law.
Several key points to know about Dram Shop cases include time limitations and defenses. It is essential to note that these types of cases must be brought within one year of the date of the occurrence. Also, a business may defend itself by asserting what’s called complicity. Complicity is a judicially created doctrine by which a licensee may not be liable for the injuries sustained by a third party from one of the licensee’s patrons if the third party contributed to the intoxication of such patron.
Another key point is that there are statutory limits on the amount an injured person can recover. Each year the Comptroller determines the liability limits for cases brought under the Dram Shop Act. Section 6-21(a) of the Liquor Control Act of 1934 (235 ILCS 5/6-21(a)) requires the Comptroller to determine these limits each year in accordance with the consumer price index-u during the preceding 12-month calendar year.
From 2003 to present, the dram shop liability limits have steadily increased. Currently, the dram shop liability limit for causes of actions involving persons injured, killed or incurring property damage is $58,652.33 per person incurring such damages. Likewise, for those claiming loss of means of support or loss of society resulting from the death or injury of a person, the judgment or recovery limits is $71,686.18. These limits were $50,467.11 and $61,682.02, respectively, in 2003.
If you have been injured by a drunk driver or by someone who you know to have been intoxicated at the time of your injury, you should contact a legal professional to discuss whether you should pursue legal action.