California’s Dram Shop Liability Laws May Deter Drunk Driving, but They Offer Little Consolation to Injured Plaintiffs

California’s Dram Shop Liability Laws May Deter Drunk Driving, but They Offer Little Consolation to Injured Plaintiffs

Drinking alcohol before driving sharply increases the risk of causing an accident.  Laws criminalizing drunk driving have helped to decrease the rate of car accidents that involve fatalities or serious injuries.  Even with those laws in place, alcohol still plays a role in a disproportionate number of injury accidents and fatality crashes.  People injured in car accidents have the right to seek damages in civil lawsuits, whether or not alcohol was a factor contributing to the accident.  Unlike some other states, California usually does not hold bars and party hosts that serve alcohol to drunk drivers legally responsible for the accident, at least not in the case of personal injury lawsuits.  To find out more about your legal options after getting injured in an accident caused by a drunk driver, contact a San Jose, California DUI accident lawyer.

Dram Shop Liability and Social Host Liability Laws in California

In most car accident lawsuits, the defendant is the driver who caused the accident, but in some cases, another party’s actions may have contributed to the accident.  Each state has its own version of dram shop liability laws, which determine how much responsibility, if any, bars that serve, if someone who drinks alcohol at the bar and then drives drunk and injures someone in an accident.  These are usually called dram shop laws, because in the 19th century, placed that sold alcoholic beverages were called dram shops.  California’s dram shop laws usually protect bars from being sued if a drunk driver who bought alcohol from there causes a collision that involves injuries.  In fact, the only way you can name a bar as a defendant in a car accident lawsuit is if the drunk driver who injured you was underage and if the bar continued to serve him alcohol after he was visibly drunk.  As for social host liability, where the driver who caused the accident got drunk at a social gathering at a private residence, the host is only liable if the drunk driver was younger than 21 and the host could reasonably have known that the driver was underage.

Dram Shop Liability in California Criminal Law

In California, the threshold for getting criminal charges for providing alcohol to a drunk driver is considerably lower than the threshold for being held liable in a civil lawsuit.  It is possible to get criminal penalties just for serving alcohol to someone who is noticeably intoxicated, even if that person does not drive.  It is even a crime to serve alcohol to someone known to have a drinking problem, even if the person is not drunk at the time you serve them alcohol.  These laws might help prevent drunk driving, but they don’t help you if a drunk driver has already injured you.

Let Us Help You Today

San Jose car accident lawyer can help you find the best way to recover financially from the car accident that caused your injuries.  Contact Solution Now Law Firm to schedule a consultation.


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