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Can I Sue the Bar That Served the Drunk Driver Who Hit Me?

Posted on in Personal Injury

Knox County personal injury lawyerGetting hit by a drunk driver can be an incredibly frustrating experience, especially when you are badly injured. You may have suffered extreme terror in the moments leading up to the crash as you helplessly watched a clearly intoxicated individual drive right into you. Clearly, the driver knew better than to get behind the wheel after getting drunk but did so anyway. The driver (or their insurance company) is likely on the hook for compensating you. In Tennessee, you may also have another option for seeking financial compensation. If the drunk driver who caused your accident was overserved or served while underage at a bar, and their intoxication caused your injuries, then the bar may be liable under Tennessee’s Dram Shop Act. If you have been injured by a drunk driver, an attorney may be able to seek out compensation for you from multiple sources. 

What Tennessee’s Dram Shop Laws Say

Bartenders are expected to serve patrons responsibly, which includes checking ID carefully and cutting off patrons who have become visibly intoxicated. Not all bars are as fastidious as they should be about making sure that they are not serving minors or allowing people to become excessively intoxicated. 

Under our state’s Dram Shop laws, a drinking establishment may be liable for a drunk driving accident if they served someone who was either under 21 years old or visibly intoxicated, and that person’s intoxication was the proximate cause of your injuries. This is a fairly high standard of proof, greater than the “preponderance of the evidence” standard usually used in civil litigation. 

Advantages and Disadvantages of Pursuing Compensation Under Dram Shop Laws

It is important to discuss your case with an attorney if you believe you have a valid claim against a bar, club, or restaurant. There are advantages and disadvantages to pursuing this type of claim. One of the big disadvantages is the high standard of proof required. Proof that the drunk driver was drinking in a particular establishment shortly before the accident is not quite enough. You would need to show that the bartender continued to serve him despite his obvious intoxication. Some people can be well over 0.08 without appearing particularly drunk. 

If the drunk driver did not have vehicle insurance, using the Dram Shop Act may be your best or only option. It is typically easier to collect a settlement or award from a business that has the funds to pay out than to try collecting from an individual, who may be insolvent. A lot depends on the circumstances of your case. 

Call a Knox County Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer

The Law Office of William F. Evans can review your case and help determine what your best options are under the particular surrounding circumstances of your accident. Our Knoxville drunk driving accident attorneys are dedicated to helping the victims of drunk drivers recover compensation. Contact us at 423-449-7980 to receive a free consultation. 

 

Source:

https://casetext.com/statute/tennessee-code/title-57-intoxicating-liquors/chapter-10-alcohol-related-injuries/section-57-10-102-standard-of-proof

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