In 2020, alcohol was involved in 4,818 car accidents in Missouri. Despite the potential consequences of driving after consuming alcoholic beverages, some drivers still choose to place others and themselves at risk.

If you experienced car accident injury due to a drunk driving accident, you might assume the driver and their insurance company are the only ones you can seek compensation from to cover your losses. Following a car accident involving an intoxicated person, you will want to contact a dram shop liability attorney. Missouri’s dram shop law allows individuals who have suffered a personal injury due to the actions of an intoxicated person to hold a business responsible for overserving patrons.

Missouri’s Dram Shop Law

Missouri’s dram shop laws dictate the circumstances under which victims who suffered personal injuries in drunk driving accidents can hold the commercial establishment where they were served liable for their losses. Additionally, the dram shop act limits how liable businesses that sell alcoholic beverages are when one of their patrons injures themselves or someone else while intoxicated.

Victims can seek compensation from a licensed alcohol vendor who served alcohol to a person under the age of 21, a visibly intoxicated person, or in cases where there is clear and convincing evidence that a patron is inebriated. Visibly intoxicated is the term for when a person’s intoxication is so severe that they exhibit significant physical dysfunction or significantly uncoordinated physical action.

The Impact of the Missouri Dram Shop Law

Alcoholic beverages were measured by the dram in the 18th century, and pubs and other establishments that served intoxicating liquor were called dram shops. The Missouri legislature enacted the Missouri dram shop act in 1929.

This act is designed to discourage a business owner from allowing his or her employee to serve customers past the point of intoxication. By holding the person licensed to serve alcohol accountable for the harm an intoxicated patron causes to others, servers and business owners are incentivized to behave responsibly.

Commercial Business That Sell Intoxicating Liquor

The Missouri dram shop law specifies that dram shop cases are restricted to vendors selling and furnishing alcoholic beverages for consumption on-site. Missouri dram shop laws protect stores that sell packaged alcohol because individuals should not be consuming their alcoholic beverages at the location where they were purchased.

Social Hosts

Although most states limit dram shop liability to businesses, some hold social hosts liable for the harm their guests cause after being overserved at an event. The Missouri dram shop act does not hold social hosts accountable for furnishing beverages to guests. Even if a guest was underage or visibly intoxicated, Missouri’s dram shop law does not allow the victim to sue the host for the harm they suffered.

How Do Employees Determine When a Patron Is Visibly Intoxicated?

A person’s blood alcohol content alone does not constitute prima facie evidence. Meaning “at first sight” in Latin; in this context, prima facie means good enough to establish as fact unless disproved. When establishing visible intoxication, blood alcohol level alone is not enough to confirm that the employee holds relative fault for not halting service to the patron.

Patrons Must be Inebriated to Such an Extent That They Are Physically Impaired

For a person to be considered visibly intoxicated, they must be intoxicated to the point where impairment is evident by significantly uncoordinated physical action or significant physical dysfunction. Some other signs that a patron is visibly intoxicated may include bloodshot eyes, slow or slurred speech, and displaying emotional, aggressive, or obnoxious behavior.

What Is the Standard of Proof in Dram Shop Lawsuits?

Proving that a commercial establishment knowingly served intoxicating liquor to a minor usually isn’t challenging. Most bars and restaurants have security cameras, which means there will be a record of the server failing to ask the patron for their driver’s license or federal personal identification card to confirm their age. However, it can be difficult to demonstrate that a restaurant or bar knowingly overserved a visibly intoxicated person or had clear and convincing evidence that a person was intoxicated yet continued to serve them.

Missouri dram shop law has a high burden of proof, and plaintiffs (victims) are unlikely to win their dram shop claims without a seasoned dram shop liability attorney representing their case. Your dram shop attorney will help you compile relevant evidence that demonstrates that visible intoxication occurred and an employee willingly overlooked it instead of acting appropriately and refusing service to the patron.

Proximate Cause

For your case to be successful, the overserving of the patron or serving an underage patron must also be a proximate cause of your injury. The proximate cause of an injury is something that contributed to it directly and is also referred to as a legal cause. Without the proximate cause, the incident would not have occurred, making it a critical part of a dram shop liability case.

The Statute of Limitations For Filing a Dram Shop Claim

If you have suffered a personal injury because a commercial establishment overserved a patron, you may be able to pursue compensation for your losses. The state of Missouri allows you five years from the date of the accident to file your claim.

However, you should not delay filing until you’re nearing the deadline. If there are any issues with your filing, you don’t want to be attempting to sort them out when you are nearing the end of the statute of limitation and miss making a claim.

Contact a Dram Shop Lawyer Today

No one likes to consider the possibility that they may encounter a drunk driver on the road, but unfortunately, thousands of Missouri drivers do every year. Personal injury cases involving drunk driving can be challenging to prove, especially if multiple parties are involved, such as the dram shop owner or server and the intoxicated person who injured you.

Do not miss out on the compensation you need to cover your medical bills and lost wages. Give Holman Schivone, LLC, a call to schedule your free consultation at 816-399-5149.