If you or someone you know has been injured in a car accident involving a DUI, it is important to speak to one of our Rogers car accident attorneys as soon as possible. In cases involving drinking and driving, there may be others responsible for the accident in addition to the drunken driver. Depending on the situation, the Arkansas Dram Shop Act might be at play. Here is what you need to know.
Arkansas is strict on issues involving alcohol
It could be said that the state of Arkansas is one of the most strict when it comes to alcohol use. For one thing, Arkansas is among only 12 states where it is illegal to server alcohol on Sundays. Furthermore, nearly half of the counties in Arkansas, are considered “dry” counties, meaning that no alcohol can be sold there. Benton County was a dry county until 2012. It is clear from these laws that Arkansas takes drinking very seriously.
Liquor merchants can be held liable for DUI-related injuries
“Dram shop” laws refer to statutes that provide for civil or criminal liability against bars, restaurants, or other establishments that serve alcohol and allow drunk individuals to get behind the wheel of the car. Currently, dram shop laws have been passed in 43 states and Washington, D.C., including Arkansas. The purpose of dram shop laws is to provide compensation to people who are injured by drunk drivers, by placing some of the responsibility one those who serve the alcohol.
An alcohol retailer is not normally responsible for drunken patrons
Ordinarily, an establishment that serves alcohol would not be held liable for the decisions one of their customers makes once they leave the establishment. So, for example, if a patron is drunk and leaves the bar, starts a fight or stumbles on the sidewalk and injuries themselves, the bar would not be responsible for those actions and the subsequent injuries.
How dram shop liability works
The dram shop act, on the other hand, targets establishments that overserve patrons or serve minors alcohol. If a bar knows someone is visibly impaired from drinking but continues to sell them alcohol, they can be liable if something happens as a result. According to Arkansas’s statute, a retailer that sells alcohol to someone under 21-years-old or to a “clearly intoxicated person,” that retailer could be legally responsible any personal injuries those individuals cause after drinking. This includes more than just car accident injuries.
The establishment must have knowledge
In order for the dram shop act to be applicable in a particular case, it must be shown that the establishment that sold the alcohol knew they were selling to a minor or an intoxicated person. There can be special circumstances, where it can be shown that the person selling alcohol “should have known” the patron was a minor. When it comes to selling to an intoxicated person, it must be shown that the patron was “so obviously intoxicated to the extent that . . . he or she presents a clear danger to others.” Establishing these necessary elements of proof can be tricky, so be sure to consult with one of our Rogers car accident attorneys.
Seeking compensation as a drunk driving victim
If you or a loved one has been injured by a drunk driver, you may be entitled to compensation for those injuries. The same is true with fatal car accidents, which are unfortunately far too common when DUIs are involved. In those cases, surviving family members could be entitled to compensation. Although money may not come close to fully compensating someone for serious injuries or death, it can still help to reimburse for medical expenses, lost wages, and other out-of-pocket expenses.
Criminal and Civil Lawsuits for DUI Accidents
In DUI cases, criminal proceedings are meant to not only punish the drunk driver for his or her recklessness but also to deter drunk driving in general. That’s why a drunk driver can be prosecuted in criminal court, even when there was no accident. A civil lawsuit based on a car accident caused by a drunk driver is a separate proceeding. The purpose of the civil suit is to recover the costs of medical treatment, lost wages, damaged property or other losses resulting from the accident.
If you have questions regarding car accidents or any other personal injury issues in Arkansas or Missouri, please contact the Cottrell Law Office for a free consultation, either online or by calling toll-free at (888) 433-4861.
He is licensed to practice law in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas, eastern Arkansas, western Arkansas, and western Missouri. He was Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Crawford County, Kansas from 1987-1989.
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