Georgia Dram Shop Laws & Lawsuits
When it comes to car accidents, not only can those individuals directly involved in the accident be held accountable for any negligence that contributed to the accident, but in some circumstances, third parties as well can also be held accountable. This includes parties such as restaurants and bars that serve alcohol to already visibly intoxicated individuals, who are then involved in these accidents and commit negligence, where the alcohol played a role. These are known as “dram shop” lawsuits.
In these cases, not only does the plaintiff have to prove that the restaurant or bar could see signs of intoxication and continued to serve the drunk driver who caused the accident and injuries, but also that it was the act of continuing to serve that individual that was the cause of the accident. In addition, in Georgia, the “host” who served the alcohol had to have known that the individual who caused the accident and injuries would be driving shortly after being served.
Elements of Negligence, Applied in Dram Shop Law
In accident litigation, the general elements of negligence that must be proven by an injured plaintiff include that there was the following:
- A duty for the individual to conform to a specific standard of conduct (which includes not subjecting members of the public to an unreasonable risk of harm);
- A failure to conform to this standard;
- A ‘reasonable, close, causal connection” between the conduct and the injury; and
- Loss or damage as a result.
The courts have long recognized that serving alcoholic beverages to an obviously intoxicated person when one knows that they intend to drive a car creates a “reasonably foreseeable” risk of injury to those on the road and can be a proximate cause of injuries inflicted by that person onto someone else. Hosts can also be held liable for any damages caused by such intoxication, and this includes serving alcohol to minors.
Note that Georgia law not only includes establishments such as restaurants and bars, but also individuals who knowingly furnish or cause alcohol to be furnished to someone under age 19 within this requirement (with the exception of alcohol for medical or religious purposes or “in the home with parental consent”). Georgia courts have also concluded that the duty or obligation extends beyond just individuals under the age of 19 and to all third parties, i.e. that all “hosts” owe a duty to those using the roads and highways to not subject them to an unreasonable risk of harm by furnishing alcohol to those noticeably intoxicated who they know will soon be driving.
Contact Us Today
If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in an accident, you should speak with a Macon car accident attorney at the Law Offices of Buzzell, Welsh & Hill immediately about your options and who can be held accountable. Our attorneys are ready to help: Contact us today for a free confidential consultation.