Settlement reached in drunken driving crash involving bar liability

Bar was accused of over-serving man who later collided with another motorist

A $3.35 million settlement has been reached in a Georgia case involving a bar that was accused of knowingly over-serving a man who then crashed his vehicle into another car, according to the Daily Report. The settlement, which was reached with both the bar and the intoxicated driver, is an example of how liability in drunken driving accidents may sometimes extend beyond the driver who was directly responsible for the crash.

Man charged with DUI

The crash happened in Sandy Springs in January 2013 after a man who had been drinking at a nearby bar crossed his vehicle over the center line and crashed head-on into the plaintiff's vehicle. The crash left the plaintiff with two broken legs and a broken arm.

The drunk driver was charged with drunk driving and he later pleaded guilty in court to driving under the influence, causing serious injury with his vehicle, and driving recklessly. The plaintiff's lawsuit against the drunk driver alleged the driver was negligent, but also accused the bar of serving the man alcohol when they should have known he was intoxicated and about to drive.

Dram Shop Laws

The case involves Georgia's Dram Shop Act, which states that a bar can be held liable if it serves alcohol to somebody who is noticeably intoxicated and about to drive. The law, however, is typically difficult to enforce, since it requires the plaintiff to prove that the bar both knew the patron was intoxicated and knew that the patron was about to drive. In many cases, including the one above, the bar will simply deny that it knew that the driver was intoxicated.

In cases involving a drunk driver who is below the legal drinking age, however, dram shop laws are much easier to enforce against a bar that serves alcohol to the minor. Regardless of whether the driver was minor or not, some bars, as this case shows, will nonetheless settle a case without explicitly admitting to any liability on its part.

Holding drunk drivers accountable

Drunk drivers are a menace to motorists throughout Georgia, and when an innocent person is struck by a drunk driver the injuries can often be catastrophic. Victims of drunk drivers should know that they have options to hold not only the negligent driver accountable, but, in some cases, any bar, restaurant, or other establishment that may have knowingly over-served the drunk driver alcohol.

As described above, however, such liability issues can be difficult to prove, which is why legal representation is so important in personal injury cases involving drunk drivers. Anybody injured by a drunk, or otherwise negligent, driver, should contact an experienced personal injury attorney today to discuss their options.