According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, approximately 10,142 car accident fatalities occurred when at least one driver was under the influence of alcohol in 2019. Colorado reported 596 total traffic fatalities in 2019. Of the 596 car accident fatalities, 127 involved at least one impaired driver. Thus, 27% of Colorado’s traffic fatalities in 2019 involved an impaired driver.
A drunk driver clearly commits wrongdoing when they violate the law by drinking too much and getting behind the wheel of a car. However, there are additional parties that can also face responsibility in the event of an accident. The dram shop laws in Colorado could help you hold other parties accountable for serving alcohol to a driver who is already drunk.
If you want to know your rights, our Denver dram shop liability law firm can help. At Gerash Steiner Blanton, P.C., we pride ourselves on upholding the legacy of Colorado legal icon Walter L. Gerash. We carry on an old Colorado tradition of providing a strong voice for accident victims.
What Is a Dram Shop Law?
A “dram shop” is an establishment that sells alcohol, such as a bar, tavern, or pub. However, modern dram shop laws apply to any establishment that sells or serves alcoholic beverages, including:
- Sports stadiums,
- Concert venues,
- Restaurants, and
- Movie theaters.
Dram shop laws in Colorado hold these types of businesses liable for serving or selling alcohol to someone under the age of 21 or someone who was visibly intoxicated.
Colorado Dram Shop Law Liquor Licensed Establishments
Specifically, the law states that a restaurant and its agent cannot face civil liability for any injured individual or property damage caused by an intoxicated driver unless:
- The establishment or its agent willfully and knowingly sold or served alcohol to someone who was visibly intoxicated; or
- The establishment or its agent willfully and knowingly sold or served alcohol to someone who was under the age of 21.
These laws aim to prevent vendors from serving alcohol to patrons who have clearly met their limit and patrons who cannot legally drink. When a drunk driver injures another party or damages property in a crash, that driver will still face criminal liability for their law violations. Another consequence of intoxication might include a personal injury civil claim filed against the drunk driver. However, dram shop laws add an extra element of risk to vendors who serve alcohol to intoxicated parties. The idea behind this law is that businesses will not want to accept this risk. In protecting themselves against liability, the hope is that the law will motivate businesses to take greater care to ensure that their customers don’t walk out of their establishment and drive drunk.
Colorado Dram Shop Laws for Social Hosts
Additionally, the law addresses private individuals who host private parties that include underage guests. Social hosts can face civil liability if they knowingly serve alcohol to an individual under the age of 21 or knowingly provide an underage party a place to consume alcohol. This portion of the law aims to prevent parents from hosting underage drinking parties.
If you or a loved one suffered injuries in an accident caused by a drunk driver, you could hold the establishment that provided the alcohol liable for damages. Contact one of our Denver dram shop liability lawyers to discuss your claim.
How Can I Prove Liability in a Dram Shop Liability Claim?
To succeed in a dram shop liability claim, you need to show that the establishment or its agent willfully and knowingly provided alcohol to someone that was either under 21 or visibly intoxicated.
In some cases, the vendor might claim they did not know that the driver was drunk. If the establishment can convince the judge that they did not know the patron was intoxicated, you cannot recover on your dram shop claim. Our Denver dram shop liability attorneys can help uncover even the slightest sign of intoxication observed by the establishment, including:
- Bloodshot eyes;
- Slurred words;
- Aggressive behavior;
- Inability to walk or stand;
- Loss of basic motor functions; or
- A strong smell of alcohol.
Any of these factors represent a sign of intoxication that was visible to the establishment serving the alcohol.
A liquor establishment might defend serving an individual under the age of 21 by saying they provided a fake ID to obtain the alcohol. However, you can challenge this claim. If you can prove that an agent of the establishment actually knew that the patron was underage, you could show that the establishment knowingly and willfully served the minor alcohol.
Suffering injuries in a drunk driving accident often leaves victims confused and angry. In most cases, victims suffer serious injuries that require significant medical treatment—which in turn leads to high medical costs. If the drunk driver who caused the accident was served or sold alcohol in a business establishment prior to the accident, you could use the Colorado dram shop law to hold additional parties liable. Contact Gerash Steiner Blanton, P.C. today to discuss your case.
How Can Gerash Steiner Blanton, P.C.’s Denver Dram Shop Liability Attorneys Help Me?
Hundreds of injury lawyers advertise their services throughout the state. However, we think certain factors set us apart from our competition, including our:
- Willingness to provide our clients with our personal cell phone numbers;
- Offer of a free initial consultation;
- 5.0 out of 5.0 rating of AV Preeminent® for proven ethics & legal skill; and
- Inclusion in Colorado Super Lawyers® and in Best Lawyers in America®.
Additionally, we are proud to have an attorney on our team who is also a physician. Eric Steiner is both a doctor and an attorney, and he can offer valuable insight into any case where our clients suffer medical issues. At Gerash Steiner Blanton, P.C., we believe in ethical, compassionate, and tenacious representation. We will strive to ensure that you receive the best advocacy possible as we aim to secure a desirable outcome for all of our clients.
Our experienced attorneys also handle other types of injury cases, including:
- Trucking Accidents
- Product Defects
- Wrongful Death Claim
- Motor Vehicle Accidents
- Trip and Fall
- Pedestrian / Bicycle Accidents
- Railroad / FELA Injuries
- Construction Site Accidents
- Catastrophic Injuries
Our Denver dram shop liability lawyer at Gerash Steiner Blanton, P.C., has the knowledge and experience necessary to represent you in your dram shop claim. Do not hesitate to pursue the compensation you deserve. Contact our Denver dram shop liability attorney today so we can start reviewing your case.