Cases against Servers of Alcohol to Drunk Drivers are governed by Colorado’s Dram Shop Act.
Statistics collected by the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility found that in 2015 there were 151 alcohol-impaired driving fatalities in Colorado. Of these fatalities, 14 were under the age of 21. In that same year, there were over 25,000 arrests for driving under the influence in Colorado.
Unfortunately, with so many alcohol-related arrests, it is possible that you or someone you know could be affected by someone’s drunk driving. Knowing what to do if you are injured could make dealing with the injury a little less traumatic.
Holding An Establishment Accountable
When someone is injured or killed due to a DUI driver, there is no justification. There is nothing that can be said or done that will take away the pain caused by the victim and family members. In circumstances where a DUI driver has no money or assets and may not even carry insurance, it can be difficult to get any justice. Even if you took them to court, you could still get nothing. You may wonder where you will turn to next. Keep in mind that the offender got the alcohol from somewhere. If the impaired driver left a bar drunk then it may be possible for victims and their family members to hold the bar liable.
So, the next step would be to take legal action against the establishment that sold alcohol to the driver. Although it is a difficult case to prove, Colorado law does allow you to sue the establishment under limited circumstances.
Understanding The Dram Shop Act
Under Colorado’s Dram Shop Act, the plaintiff must prove that his or her injuries caused by the intoxicated driver are legitimate. Not only that, but it must be proven that the bar that served the alcohol did so willfully and knowing that the person was under the age of 21 or the person was visibly intoxicated. The plaintiff must file the claim in court within one year following the sale of alcohol to the impaired driver. If the injured party prevails in court, they are legally allowed to collect $150,000 plus interest from the at-fault establishment.
Colorado law makes it extremely difficult for the plaintiff to prove the bar willfully and knowingly served alcohol to a visibly impaired person. Of course, the defendant is not going to admit they were wrong, and in fact, did serve alcohol while knowing they were serving it to someone who was already intoxicated. The law states that proof must be given and that a bar cannot be held liable because it should have known it was serving an intoxicated person.
Can A Case Like This Be Won?
Although such cases are difficult, it is possible to prevail in court. An attorney can research the history of the establishment to determine if any laws have been broken in the past. He or she will also research any violations in regards to the establishment’s liquor license. Maybe they’ve had violations for serving alcohol to persons under the age of 21.
The attorney may even opt to interview patrons who were at the establishment at the same time as the DUI driver. Another option would be to subpoena video surveillance from the establishment to actually view the DUI driver being served alcohol. If the video shows that the person was impaired, the attorney may be able to win the case based on that alone. All such information obtained will be used to backup the plaintiff’s case and take away the defendant’s credibility.
If you have been injured in a drunk driving accident, just remember there are laws in place to protect you and hold liable the person causing the accident due to alcohol-related impairment. However, if that person has no insurance or assets, then you may be able to hold accountable the establishment serving the alcohol. It is essential to hire an experienced attorney to help you with your case to reach a positive outcome and obtain justice. Feel free to contact Jim Avery for more information or assistance with your claim, by completing the contact page below:Contact us to begin your Free Confidential Case Evaluation now!
Frank Acocella Esq., leads the New York DUILegalNY.com defense team. Frank fights for the rights of drivers charged with DWI, DWAI and other intoxicated driving charges throughout the State of New York.