Dram Shop Liability in Georgia

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Explore:  Dram Shop Laws

Last October, news reports announced that Kelly Stevens, the morning radio host of B98.5, planned to sue two bars after he was hit by an alleged drunk driver and suffered severe injuries. Stevens’ lawyer asserted that the drunk driver was drinking at two different bars before the crash. If you are hurt by a drunk driver in Georgia, you may be able to sue a number of parties, including the bar or establishment that served the alcohol.

Basis for server liability in Georgia

Georgia’s dram shop act allows a person injured by a drunk driver to sue the establishment that served alcohol to that driver if they can show that the server provided or served alcohol to a minor under the age of 21 or to a noticeably intoxicated adult, and that they knew that person would soon drive.

Who can be held liable under Georgia’s dram shop laws?

Most dram-shop lawsuits involve bars or restaurants. In 2011, however, the Georgia Supreme Court held that convenience stores can also be liable for violating Georgia’s dram shop laws because they can observe their customers to  determine whether they are intoxicated and how likely they are to drive from the store after purchasing alcohol.

What do you need to show to establish damages?

To collect damages against a bar or other establishment that serves a drunk or underage patron, you must show that:

  • The establishment failed to take reasonable precautions to avoid serving the patron — for example, checking minors for identification or observing a drunk patron’s uncoordinated physical movements
  • The establishment provided alcohol to the drunk or underage patron
  • You were injured by the patron after he or she either consumed or purchased alcohol at the establishment

Dram shop liability greatly increases the chances that you can actually collect damages for your drunk driving injury — particularly when the driver lacks sufficient insurance coverage or is otherwise unable to pay for your harm.