Injured by an Intoxicated Person? Washington State Dram Shop Laws May Apply
If you or a loved one was injured by an intoxicated person – such as in a car accident or physical altercation – you may be able to recover damages under Washington State dram shop laws. For years, the state has recognized the right of a person injured by an inebriated minor to bring a civil lawsuit against the social host or alcohol vendor who sold or served alcohol to the minor. Claims against social hosts fall under social host liability laws while claims against alcohol vendors fall under dram shop laws; both sets of laws are meant to protect victims of alcohol-related accidents.
Expansion of dram shop laws in Washington State
In 2004, the Washington State Supreme Court expanded the third-party liability options for an alcohol-related accident to include an alcohol vendor that sold alcohol to an adult patron who was “apparently under the influence” or “obviously intoxicated” at the time alcohol was sold to them. Obvious signs that a patron is already intoxicated include slurred speech and not being able to walk properly. Previous to this, dram shop laws only applied in situations where an alcohol establishment sold alcohol to a minor person under the age of 21.
For example, Mark walks into a bar stumbling and slurs his speech while ordering an alcoholic drink but he is served anyway. When he leaves the bar he gets into his car and crashes into another vehicle as he attempts to turn onto the roadway. The driver in the car that was hit can recover damages through a car accident claim but they may also be able to sue the bar under the state’s dram shop laws. Note that Mark would not be able to sue the bar for serving him when he was already intoxicated but the driver may be able to sue the bar whether Mark is a minor or an adult.
What is the statute of limitations on a dram shop personal injury claim?
Like other civil / personal injury claims, a dram shop injury claim must be filed before the deadline set by Washington State’s statute of limitations; three years from the date of the injury in most cases.
We represent victims of drunk driving accidents
Tario & Associates, P.S. has more than 35 years experience representing victims of drunk driving car accidents. When you have been seriously injured through no fault of your own you may need a legal advocate who will fight for the settlement you deserve. Free consultations and no up-front fees make hiring a car accident lawyer the right choice for many victims.
If you or a loved one is suffering from an injury as a result of an accident or error caused by the negligence of another, you have enough on your plate. Let an experienced accident attorney fight for the full compensation that you deserve. It is not uncommon to receive a settlement from the insurance company that is five to ten times bigger with the help of a lawyer. Call the personal injury lawyers at Tario & Associates, P.S. in Bellingham, WA today for a FREE consultation! We have been representing residents of Whatcom County, Skagit County, Island County and Snohomish County since 1979. You will pay nothing up front and no attorney fees at all unless we recover damages for you!