Dram Shop Laws & Liability in Georgia

Alcohol-related accidents or injuries can be especially difficult to navigate. This is why there are dram shop laws in place to protect people who have been injured by someone who was served alcohol at a bar, restaurant, alcohol retailer, or even a private party. The Savannah personal injury lawyers emphasize the importance of understanding how dram shop laws work in the state of Georgia so you can make sure your rights and interests are protected if you’ve been hurt due to someone else’s intoxication.

What Are Dram Shop Laws? 

Dram shop laws allow victims of alcohol-related injuries to pursue damages from those responsible for providing the alcoholic beverage in question. These laws typically apply to bars, restaurants, nightclubs, convenience stores, liquor stores, and grocery stores. In some cases, they can also apply to waiters and bartenders in addition to hosts and other alcohol servers. 

Dram shop laws require establishments that serve or sell alcohol to customers of legal drinking age only. If these establishments serve alcohol to minors or visibly or noticeably intoxicated persons and those individuals then cause injury or death as a result of their intoxication, the establishment may be held liable for damages in a civil lawsuit.

Elements Necessary for a Plaintiff to Prove Liability Under Dram Shop Laws in Georgia 

Under Georgia law, a plaintiff must prove four elements to successfully bring an action against another party under dram shop laws. 

  1. First, the plaintiff must demonstrate that a bar, restaurant, alcohol retailer, or a host at a private party served alcohol to a patron.
  2. Additionally, there must be evidence that the server noticed or should have noticed that the patron who was being served was intoxicated. 
  3. The server or host must know that the person they served alcohol to would soon be driving a motor vehicle.
  4. Finally, it must be proven that the patron caused injuries or other damages to a third party as a direct result of their intoxication. 

Proving The Server/Establishment Knew Or Should Have Known The Patron Was Intoxicated 

For your dram shop case to be successful, you must that the server either knew or should have known that their patron was visibly or noticeably intoxicated when they served them alcohol. 

This can be difficult, but it isn’t impossible. Common ways to prove this include providing evidence such as eyewitness accounts from other patrons at the bar or restaurant, video surveillance footage, testing results that show high levels of blood-alcohol content, receipts showing large amounts of alcohol purchased over short periods of time, and any other relevant evidence which that the server or establishment knew or should have known their patron was intoxicated when they served them alcohol.  

Proving The Server/Establishment Knew The Patron Was About to Drive 

This can be a difficult element to satisfy, but there are ways to prove the server knew the patron was about to drive. For example, a customer could testify that they heard the patron discussing how they were driving home shortly in front of the server, or that they would be leaving the bar soon and had no other way to get home than to drive.

Another possible way to prove this element is receipts that show the patron was served alcohol right as the bar was about to close and the bartender knew that the patron had driven to the establishment. This would presumably mean that the patron would drive home and would drive home soon because the bar was closing. 

Proving these cases takes a skillful attorney who is very familiar with these laws. For help, contact us today to schedule a free consultation.