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I Was Injured by an Extremely Intoxicated Drunk Driver in VA – Can I Hold the Restaurant Liable as well, for Providing the Alcohol

A DUI crash has the potential to wreak havoc on the driver as well as other people involved. Personal injuries or fatalities resulting from such an accident caused by someone else’s utter negligence and wrongdoing can be hard to get over.

If you are a victim of a car crash caused by an extremely intoxicated driver, you have the right to file a lawsuit and claim compensation from the party culpable for the accident. However, problems could arise if the drunk driver does not have any or adequate insurance to cover the personal injuries resulting from the drunk driving crash.

In a collision caused by an intoxicated person that causes injuries to someone, Virginia laws allow the victim to seek damages from the individual responsible for the crash. Many states also have legal provisions for the injured person to file a lawsuit against the individual or business that served alcohol to the erring driver.

Dram Shop Laws

The oft used term for this type of civil lawsuit against someone who provides alcohol is a dram shop claim. A dram shop claim makes the restaurant or bar that served alcohol to the errant driver, also liable for damages. The basic premise behind the dram shop law is that the bartenders can exercise their right to refuse alcohol if they think that the patron does not seem to be in control and could possibly be a danger to themselves and others.

A DUI crash victim has the right to sue even the non-vendors with third-party liability claims generally referred to as social host liability claims. Every state has a different set of laws for this, and Virginia happens to be one of the states without dram shop liability.

How Did the Dram Shop Laws Originate?

Dram Shop was a term used to denote early establishments selling gin in 18th-century England. An injured plaintiff can file a lawsuit against the alcohol retailer, bar, or a private individual who served alcohol to the drunk driver. The law holds the establishment legally responsible for over-serving a drunk customer.

However, in Virginia, the state law declares individuals to be themselves responsible for their intoxication and the resultant actions, even if they cause personal injuries and damages to someone else. Under the Virginia state law, the alcohol provider is not liable for any claim just because they supplied the means.

Do All the States Have a Dram Shop Law?

Dram shop laws are in force in forty-three states and the District of Columbia, to tackle the growing number of DUI crashes that invariably result in many severe injuries and fatalities each year.  Some states including Virginia, Nevada, South Dakota, and Maryland, do not have dram shop laws.

California, on the other hand, has laws that specifically prohibit civil liability of alcohol retailers, bars, and individuals that serve alcohol to people who later cause a crash resulting in injuries or death to others.

Virginia Does Not Have Dram Shop Liability Laws

Virginia is one of the very few states that do not have dram shop liability law on its books. Additionally, Virginia courts have not shown any willingness to allow injured individuals to sue restaurants, bars, and other alcohol retailers for providing alcohol to an individual who might later cause a motor vehicle collision.

Virginia Supreme Court has made it amply clear that it regards the consumption, and not dispensation of alcohol, as the direct reason for DUI and alcohol-related crashes. At least two cases, Robinson v. Matt Mary Moran, Inc., and Williamson v. Old Brogue stand out in this regard.  

Virginia Social Host Liability Laws

Many of the states with dram shop liability laws in force, also allow the victim of a crash to file a lawsuit against a social host who served alcohol to a guest or someone else at a party, if the intoxicated guest, then went on to precipitate an alcohol-related collision. Virginia, as with its dram shop liability laws, does not allow social host liability claims too.

The Exception to Social Host Liability Law in Virginia

Under the Virginia laws, if there is an involvement in an accident, of any guest whose age is below 21 years, it is a notable exception to the social host liability law. As per the provisions of this exception to the social host liability law, the liability of the social host has a wider scope. The liability, under the exception, not only covers injuries suffered by the underage guest, but also any injuries and damages suffered by someone else due to the actions of the underage guest, while intoxicated.

Contact a Virginia Personal Injury Attorney for Legal Action Against the Intoxicated Driver

Contact an attorney from our team at Shapiro, Appleton& Washburn to identify legal recourse you may have against the intoxicated driver who caused the crash that resulted in your injuries. Accident victims have a legal entitlement to compensation for the medical treatment expenses, loss of income, pain and suffering, emotional trauma, and more, under Virginia law.

Call us today at 800-752-0042 or contact us online to schedule an initial free consultation.

References:

https://www.hsinjurylaw.com/blog/alleged-drunk-driver-causes-i-264-crash-and-shutdown.cfm

https://www.hsinjurylaw.com/blog/drunk-hit-and-run-driver-in-norfolk-va.cfm

https://www.hsinjurylaw.com/blog/dui-motorcycle-fatality-in-virginia-beach.cfm

Richard N. Shapiro
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Personal Injury & Wrongful Death Lawyer Serving Va Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake & all of Virginia
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