When an impaired person chooses to get behind the wheel of a vehicle and it results in someone else suffering serious or fatal injuries, the immediate thought is to file a claim against the intoxicated person. But there may be other legal options available based on dram shop laws and if the drunk driver was served at a Clarksburg bar.
What are dram shop laws?
In general, these laws refer to individuals or entities -- such as a bartender or a liquor store -- who serve alcohol. Responsibility is placed on the person or establishment to stop providing, serving or selling alcohol when it becomes clear that someone has become intoxicated.
Each state has its own variation of how this law reads. According to West Virginia Code 11-16-18, it is unlawful to sell or furnish alcohol when there is knowledge that someone is a habitual drinker or is obviously intoxicated.
How is liability impacted by dram shop laws?
Although it would be important to file an injury claim against the individual who drove while drunk and caused the accident, dram shop laws may allow for others to be liable. It should be noted that in some states, dram shop laws apply to not only vendors, but also social hosts, for instance, someone who throws a party at his or her home and serves liquor to the guests.
However, West Virginia dram shop laws only apply to vendors. Depending on the circumstances, liability may include a tavern, bar, restaurant, night club, sporting venue and other businesses. An individual, such as a bartender or server, also could be liable.
There are a variety of complex issues when an accident involves alcohol. Understanding West Virginia DUI laws and their penalties, including those pertaining to dram shops, is critical. With the potential to file a claim for punitive damages in addition to the standard economic and non-economic damages, injured Clarksburg residents should consider securing legal counsel.
The Miley Legal Group can outline a plan of action for your car accident claim once you fill out our contact form and come in for a consultation.