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Hit by a drunk driver, you may sue the bar he or she came from

Connecticut has no shortage of bars and other establishments that sell alcohol. There is nothing wrong with that as long as people who patronize these establishments use good judgment and plan ahead so they are not driving home while impaired. Sadly, that does not always happen. If a drunk driver who was on his or her way home from a local bar hit you, did you know you may be entitled to sue the bar in an effort to seek compensation for your losses?

Sue the bar, how? Is this possible in every drunk driving case? Is it worth the effort?

Dram shop laws

In Connecticut, there are dram shop laws. These laws enable victims of drunk drivers or -- in the event of fatality -- the surviving family members of victims to take legal action against establishments that serve alcohol. These laws are not applicable in all drunk driving cases because not all drunk drivers are coming from places where they were served alcohol. For example, if a person gets drunk in his or her own home, then decides to drive and hits someone, dram shop laws would not apply.

In able to successfully utilize dram shop laws, certain elements must exist in your case. Every state's requirements are slightly different, but typically, the following elements must be present:

  • Proof that the drunk driver purchased alcohol from the bar in question
  • Proof that the sale of alcohol contributed to this person's intoxicated state
  • Evidence that the drunk driver was over served
  • Proof that you or a loved one suffered injuries in the accident

Gathering the required evidence to establish these elements to the satisfaction of the court can take time. Thankfully, this is not something you have to do on your own. Legal counsel will know where to look for the information and what questions to ask to whom.

Why do dram shop laws exist?

The goal of dram shop laws is to keep bars and other establishments from over-serving their patrons. Dram shop laws work to hold these establishments responsible if they do over-serve patrons. These laws also help victims or their surviving family members seek fair and full compensation for their losses.

If you or a loved one suffered injuries or worse in a collision with a drunk driver and that individual had recently left a bar or other alcohol-serving establishment, it is certainly worth looking into whether dram shop laws apply to your case. If they do and you and your legal counsel are able to successfully prove that they do, you may achieve more for your losses than you would by just going after the driver.

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