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Can a bar be liable to the victim of a drunk driving accident?

The victim of a drunk driving accident may be entitled to do more than seek compensation for the negligence of the drunk driver. A bar, restaurant or other commercial establishment that sells or serves alcoholic beverages to a person who is intoxicated could be liable if the person has a car accident and causes serious injuries to someone.

The Connecticut statute that imposes liability on the seller of alcohol to an intoxicated individual is referred to as the dram shop law. The wording of the law would appear to require that the server of the alcohol must be aware that the customer is intoxicated before he or she is served. There is a $250,000 limit on the amount that a car accident victim may recover against the bar or restaurant.

In order to be eligible to pursue a claim under the dram shop law, a person must serve a written notice on the establishment that served the alcohol. The notice must be served within 120 days of the injuries or, in the case of an auto accident resulting in death or incapacity, within 180 days.

The dram shop law is very specific about the information that must be included in the written notice to preserve the right to sue. Another danger for an accident victim is that any lawsuit for damages under the statute must be filed within one year from the date of the accident. This is much shorter than the three years that an accident victim has to file a lawsuit against the drunk driver for negligence.

The laws providing remedies and financial compensation for victims of drunk driving accidents can be complex and confusing. This post is intended only as an overview of the topic, but it is not intended to be relied upon as legal advice that should only come from a competent personal injury attorney.

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