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February 2, 2022 | Gary Burger

Can I Sue a Bar After a Drunk Driving Accident in Illinois?

Can I Sue a Bar After a Drunk Driving Accident in Illinois? If you or a loved one was injured because somebody else was reckless and drove drunk, you can bring a civil lawsuit against the driver to recover compensation for your injuries. However, many Chicago and Illinois residents may be wondering if a restaurant or bar who served a drunk driver may also be liable. The answer is yes. Illinois is one of many states that allow plaintiffs to hold licensed alcohol vendors responsible if they serve someone who went on to cause injuries. If you have been injured in a drunk driving car accident, call Burger Law's drunk driving accident attorneys at (314) 500-HURT or contact us online to discuss your legal options for free.

Dram Shop Law

Illinois has what's called a "Dram Shop Law," - so named because vendors used to measure alcohol in units called "drams" - in which institutions that serve alcohol may be held liable if they serve someone who goes on to cause a drunk driving accident that causes injury. The last part is important, as if your car was damaged but you were uninjured in a crash that was caused by a drunk driver, the restaurant or bar is not liable for any of your damages.

Proving Dram Shop Liability in Illinois

Illinois's Dram Shop law allows an injured person to bring a claim against a vendor if the alcohol the vendor supplied caused the drunk driver's intoxication. Illinois's law is relatively liberal among Dram Shop laws as it does not require that the vendor did anything wrong, such as selling to someone underaged or who was visibly intoxicated. In a drunk driving accident case in Illinois you generally only have to demonstrate three things to prove a Dram Act claim:

  1. Vendor and Patron Relationship. You will have to establish that the bar or restaurant was the vendor that sold the drunk driver alcohol. This can be done with video from the restaurant, credit card receipts or eyewitness testimony.
  2. Causation. You have to prove that the drunk driver caused your injuries. If the driver was arrested and is facing criminal charges, this step is fairly easy.
  3. Proximate Cause. You need to prove that the vendor was responsible for the driver being drunk. Eyewitnesses, police reports, and breathalyzer will help demonstrate proximate cause.

If an Illinois institution allowed a patron to become drunk, and that person went on to cause your injuries in a drunk driving accident, call the skilled and experienced drunk driving accident lawyers at Burger Law to ensure all liable parties are held responsible and help you get maximum compensation.

Limitations of Illinois Dram Shop Law

Each year the state of Illinois updates its Liquor Control Act of 1934 to set limits on how much a restaurant or bar may be held financially liable. As of Jan. 20, 2022, that number is $77,787.30 for each person who was injured, or $95,073.37 if the drunk driving accident causes "loss of means of support" or "loss of society" because of injury or death.

Some states have what's called "Social Host Liability", where a host at a private residence can be held liable if someone drinks at their home, drives home drunk, and causes an accident. Illinois is not one of those states, and the Dram Shop law only applies to vendors with alcohol licenses. The one exception is if the drunk driver is under the age of 21 and becomes intoxicated at a private party. Then the "host" of the party would be liable.

Call the Illinois Drunk Driving Accident Lawyers at Burger Law Today

If you or a loved one has been injured in a drunk driving accident, a bar or restaurant may owe you compensation if they served the driver and allowed them to become intoxicated. You deserve the maximum compensation possible and all liable parties need to be held responsible. If you have questions about Illinois Dram Shop Law and how it relates to your case, call the drunk driving accident lawyers at Burger Law today at (314) 500-HURT or contact us online for a free consultation.