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A Bar May Be Responsible if You Were Hit by a Drunk Driver

Slechter Law Firm, PLLC 
Car key, glass of alcohol and gavel

Being involved in an accident caused by an intoxicated driver is a traumatic experience. The aftermath of such an incident can be overwhelming, both physically and emotionally. Apart from the medical bills, there is the possibility of lost wages, long-term injuries, and even death.  

In addition to the at-fault driver, there are other parties who may be held liable for damages in an accident like this. One such party is the establishment that served alcohol to the driver, commonly known as a dram shop.  

Mr. Slechter and Mrs. Slechter – the founding attorneys of Slechter Law Firm, PLLC – specialize in holding alcohol-serving establishments accountable and recovering compensation for victims. From their office in Louisville, Kentucky, the results-driven and skilled personal injury attorneys serve accident victims throughout the state, including Lexington.  

Dram Shop Liability Law in Kentucky  

Kentucky’s dram shop liability law states that alcohol-serving establishments can be held liable when they serve visibly-intoxicated patrons. The standard used is that a reasonable person under similar or the same circumstances should know that the patron was visibly intoxicated at the time of serving. The dram shop liability law in Kentucky applies to both intoxicated adults and underage individuals.  

Example: John drives himself to a local bar on his way home from work. After drinking several beverages, John manifests signs of intoxication, including slurred speech and coordination problems. Despite these signs, the bartender continues to serve alcohol to John. Then, John gets behind the wheel of his vehicle and drives home. On his way home, he causes a car accident because of his inability to operate the vehicle safely. In this situation, injured victims can seek compensation directly from John and also bring a lawsuit against the bar under the state’s dram shop liability law.  

Applicability of the Dram Shop Law

Unlike other states, Kentucky has no laws that would allow injured persons to sue social hosts for overserving visibly-intoxicated guests. Kentucky’s dram shop liability law applies only to alcohol-serving vendors. Those vendors must have a valid license to sell and serve alcohol to patrons.  

Example: Instead of going to the local bar, John visits his friend James who is throwing a birthday party at home. James continues to serve alcohol to John although the latter manifests clear signs of intoxication. When the party ends, John drives himself home and ends up causing a car accident. In this scenario, injured victims cannot sue James, who was just a social host. Instead, they will have to seek damages by suing John.  

Statute of Limitations

Like other types of personal injury cases, dram shop liability claims in Kentucky have a one-year statute of limitations. The clock starts running from the date of the victim’s injury. Certain exceptions may apply (e.g., if the victim was a minor at the time of the accident). You might want to discuss your specific case with an experienced attorney to determine how long you have to bring a dram shop liability claim.  

Types of Evidence to Help You Prove a Dram Shop Liability Claim

When bringing a dram shop liability claim, you need to gather sufficient evidence to prove that the alcohol-serving establishment is liable under the state’s dram shop law. Some of the most critical pieces of evidence to prove a dram shop liability claim include: 

  • witness statements 

  • surveillance footage 

  • the police report 

  • toxicology results 

  • accident report (if there was a crash) 

  • the plaintiff’s medical records 

These and other pieces of evidence can help you prove your dram shop liability claim. A skilled attorney can help you identify all the evidence necessary to prove your claim and recover the compensation you deserve.  

Recoverable Damages

Like any other personal injury claim, a dram shop liability claim is meant to compensate the injured victim for his/her damages and losses, including but not limited to: 

  • property damages 

  • medical expenses 

  • lost wages 

  • non-economic damages such as pain and suffering 

Kentucky law also allows injured victims to recover punitive damages when there is evidence of oppression, fraud, or malice on the part of the defendant.  

How a Personal Injury Attorney Can Help

A personal injury attorney can help in various ways when pursuing a dram shop liability claim. Firstly, they have the legal knowledge and experience necessary to determine the establishment’s liability. An attorney will investigate the incident to determine whether the establishment served alcohol to an already visibly-intoxicated patron or provided alcohol to someone underage.  

An attorney can also help you recover compensation for your damages by filing a claim against the establishment’s liquor liability insurance. This allows you to recover your medical bills, lost wages, emotional distress, and other damages resulting from the accident. 

In addition, an attorney can help you file a lawsuit against the establishment. This is especially necessary if the establishment’s insurance company refuses to cooperate or cover your damages. A lawsuit can help expedite the compensation process and ensure you get the justice you deserve. Lastly, a dram shop liability attorney can help deter future accidents caused by intoxicated drivers by holding establishments accountable for their actions.  

Fight for Your Future

If you or a loved one has been in an accident caused by an intoxicated driver, you may need the services of a skilled attorney to help you pursue a dram shop liability claim. Mr. Slechter and Mrs. Slechter specialize in holding establishments accountable for their actions and recovering compensation for the victims. Contact Slechter Law Firm, PLLC to get knowledgeable assistance while you focus on healing and getting your life back on track.