Injured by a Drunk Driver?
When you’ve been in a car accident that you didn’t cause, it is not always easy to determine who is at fault for the accident. When dealing with commercial vehicles, the truck driver, the truck driver’s employer, or even the company responsible for the cargo being carried by truck might be the party that you should sue if you are injured in the accident. In passenger automobile situations, the driver is oftentimes the person who is at fault for the accident; however, there are situations where it is not only the driver’s fault for the accident.
If you’ve been injured by a drunk driver, it is important to take a look at the big picture in regards to the accident. Is the drunk driver solely responsible for the accident? Oftentimes, a claim can be made against a bar or restaurant that caused a customer to become intoxicated and allowed that person to get behind a wheel, knowing that he or she was not fit to drive. If this is the situation that you are in, you need information on suing the bar or restaurant – something that is also known as making a dram shop claim. In this section, you can learn more about the dram shop claim, how to file one, and when it is appropriate to file one. If you believe that a liquor seller is responsible for the damages to your person and property, the best thing that you can do is contact a personal injury lawyer that has experience with dram shop cases. These cases can be extremely complex and difficult to prove, so having a lawyer on your side is the best way to ensure that you win your case. At Ganim Law, we have worked with dram shop victims and can help you through the court process. Please contact us today to discuss your situation.
Dram Shop Act
In 2005, the Connecticut General Statutes revised the dram shop act, listed in Section 30-102. This act claims that a liquor seller can be held liable for damages by a person who is injured as a result of the liquor seller’s actions. If a liquor seller – whether that be a restaurant, a bar, a club, a liquor store, a grocery store, etc. – sells alcohol to a person who is already intoxicated, any resulting accidents are the fault of not only the drunk driver but the liquor seller as well. The liquor seller is required to pay damages to the injured party. Under Connecticut’s dram shop act, the liquor seller must pay up to $250,000 to the injured party for damages. However, in order to claim damages from a liquor seller, the injured party must give written notice to the seller within 60 days of the accident. In the event of death resulting from the accident, the family will have an additional 120 days to file a claim. This time will account for the execution of the deceased’s Will. After written notice is given to the liquor seller, the injured party has one year to file the dram shop claim with the court. If the injured party fails to do so, the statute of limitations will prevent the claim from being filed. One other important factor in the dram shop act is that it only applies to drunk drivers under the age of 21. If a liquor seller serves alcohol to a person over the age of 21, the seller is not responsible for the customer’s actions.
Liquor Seller vs Social Host
You might be wondering if a friend or family member who served alcohol in his or her home can be considered a liquor seller. In the state of Connecticut, social hosts are not considered liquor sellers. This means that if you were injured by a drunk driver who became intoxicated at a friend’s party, that person is not responsible for your injuries – the driver alone will be at fault. However, it is a crime in Connecticut for social hosts to fail to take precautions to prevent those under the age of 21 from drinking alcohol on their property. This is considered a criminal misdemeanor, and you or your lawyer has the right to file a claim against the social host if negligence in preventing minors from drinking occurred.
Filing notice of a Dram Shop lawsuit
If you believe that a liquor seller should pay damages for your injuries, you must give due notice to the seller. When filing a claim with the liquor seller, be sure to include the following information:
- The time and date of the accident.
- The person who should receive compensation from the liquor seller.
- The place where the accident/injury occurred.
Filing a Claim Against a Drunk Driver
Just because you feel that a liquor seller is partially responsible for your injuries does not mean that the driver of the vehicle is not responsible as well. You can file a personal injury claim against the drunk driver that caused the accident as well as filing a lawsuit under the dram shop act. If you win your case, the compensation that is awarded to you will be divided between the liquor seller and the at-fault driver.
It can be extremely difficult to prove fault in a personal injury case. There are many variables and factors in determining if someone is sober enough to drive, and a bartender is not going to know all of the factors involved when serving alcohol to a patron. In order to prove fault in a dram shop case, it is a good start to prove the following:
- That sale of alcohol by the establishment to the customer actually took place.
- That there was a correlation between the customer’s intoxication and the sale of alcohol to him or her. In other words, the possibility that the customer was not already drunk when he or she arrived at the establishment.
- That the customer caused an accident as a result of his or her intoxication, harming another person.
- That the customer’s intoxication was at least one of the factors in the injuries sustained by the victim of the accident.
Even if you cannot prove that a liquor seller is at fault for your injuries, you can most likely prove that the drunk driver is at fault in this situation. You do not have to prove that the other driver was intoxicated to prove that he or she is at fault for the accident. Instead, you simply have to prove that:
- The driver acted with negligence or recklessness.
- That these actions caused the accident.
- That you sustained injuries as a result of the accident.
If you can prove these three factors in the accident, you will have a strong case against the other driver.
The purpose of compensation is to put the injured party in the position that he or she would have been in had the accident never occurred. This means covering the financial and emotional costs that the accident caused. In the state of Connecticut, those injured in car accidents can receive compensation for two forms of damages – economic damages, and non-economic damages. Economic damages are any financial bills that had to be paid in relation to the injury. These damages can include bills for:
- Emergency room visits
- Hospital visits.
- Doctor’s visits.
- CAT scans.
- A specialist’s opinion.
- Physical therapy.
- Rehabilitative instruments, such as crutches or a wheelchair.
- Damages to your vehicle.
Loss of income due to an inability to work.
On the other hand, non-economic damages refer to the emotional toll that an injury takes. While it is difficult to put a price on this type of damage, the State of Connecticut has a formula for determining how much compensation should be paid in each case for suffering and damages, and emotional trauma due to the accident.
Negotiating Your Case
Just as with any personal injury case, you might have the option to settle your case instead of taking it to trial. Depending on your situation, this might be a good idea. One of the biggest reasons that people settle their personal injury cases is that this allows them to receive compensation for their injuries without having to go to trial. Avoiding the stress, frustration, uncertainty, and financial burden associated with the trial is appealing to those who wish to settle their cases. If you are considering settling your personal injury case, it is important that you have a personal injury lawyer with you during all negotiations. This will ensure that the settlement is in your best interest.
One reason why people go to trial is that they know they have a solid case, and they want as much compensation as they can get. You are entitled to compensation if you’ve been injured, and many people want the full compensation that is due to them. You can get this full compensation by taking your case to trial.
Before making the decision to settle or go to trial, it is important to consult with a personal injury lawyer. A personal injury lawyer can use his or her experience and knowledge to consider the facts of your case and help you make the best decision for your situation. Whether you want to settle your case or go to trial, consulting someone with experience in dram shop cases can make all of the difference for you. Filing notice of the dram shop claim to file the case with the court, building your case, negotiating the settlement option, and going to trial are all made easier by having a dedicated personal injury lawyer by your side. Ganim Law can provide that lawyer for you.
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