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February 2, 2022 | Gary Burger

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

Can I Sue a Bar After a Drunk Driving Accident in Missouri? When you are injured by a drunk driver, the logical step is to make a claim against the driver in order to recover compensation for your damages. But in many states, including Missouri, you can also sue a licensed alcohol vendor if they over-served the driver who caused your drunk driving accident claim. The St. Louis-based drunk driving accident lawyers at Burger Law will help you understand if a bar or restaurant is liable for your injuries. Call us today at (314) 500-HURT or contact us online for a free case evaluation and to discuss your options in holding the negligent parties responsible for your injuries.

Missouri Dram Shop Law

Like all states except Louisiana, Missouri follows the common law of England, which generally does not allow individuals to hold bars or restaurants responsible in the event that an intoxicated person causes personal injury after being served by the establishment. However, Missouri Revised Statute § 537.053 puts forth two specific exceptions to this rule:

  1. That the patron was "visibly intoxicated," which Missouri defines as being so drunk that "impairment" is shown by:
    • Significantly uncoordinated physical action, or
    • Significant physical dysfunction
  2. That the bar or restaurant served alcohol to someone who was under 21

In order to win a Dram Shop case, you and your drunk accident driving lawyer will have to prove that:

  • The restaurant, bartender, and/ or server either knew or should have known the customer was too drunk or under the age of 21
  • The customer they over-served directly caused injury or death that was the direct result of their intoxication. If they damaged your car, but no injury was incurred, the bar or restaurant is not liable.

Proving a Dram Shop Case in Missouri

Proving a Dram Shop case can be tricky, and you will need the help of experienced and knowledgeable drunk driving accident lawyers like those at Burger Law to receive full compensation for your injuries.

It is often pretty straightforward to prove that an establishment sold alcohol to a person under 21 years of age, however bartenders and restaurants are protected in that the ID provided only had to "appear" genuine, even if it was not.

Statue § 537.053 specifically states that a person's blood alcohol content is not prima facie, or sufficient evidence, that a bar or server should have known someone was too drunk to drive. So even if they were later found to be over the legal limit of .08% blood alcohol content, that is not evidence that they should not have been served as not everyone shows the effects of drinking too much the same. You and your St. Louis-based team of drunk driving accident lawyers at Burger law will have to prove that the drunk driver showed visible signs of impairment. This can include:

  • Stumbling
  • Falling over
  • Slurring their speech
  • Spilling their drink
  • Knocking someone or something over
  • Significantly impaired motor movements

Missouri dram shop cases are difficult to prove because the person being intoxicated is not enough; you must also prove the establishment knew or should have known they were too drunk to drink more. A server may say he or she was too busy to check on every customer, or that the person must have held their liquor well. A skilled St. Louis-based Missouri drunk driving accident lawyer will help you decide if you may be able to prove liability on the part of a liquor vendor for your injuries, and will also know exactly which facts and evidence to look for. Often, video surveillance and eye witness accounts will be used as evidence of a bar or server's liability.

Limits to Missouri's Dram Shop Laws

Dram Shop laws only apply to vendors who sell alcohol by the drink that is meant to drunk on the premises. Therefore, a grocery store or liquor store cannot be held liable in a drunk driving accident claim. While some states have "Social Host Liability," where someone can be responsible for damages if they give someone too much alcohol at a private part or residence, Missouri is not one of those states. The statute of limitations in a dram shop case in Missouri is five years, however, there are no damage caps like there are in other states.

Contact Burger Law's Missouri Drunk Driving Accident Lawyers

If you have been injured because of the irresponsible actions of a drunk driver, you need the expertise and experience of our St. Louis drunk driving accident lawyers to make sure every liable party is held accountable. Bars and restaurants have a responsibility not to over-serve their customers, not only for their own patrons' sake but the sake of everyone on Missouri's roads. If a drunk driver hurt you and you want to know if an alcohol vendor is liable, call Burger Law today at (314) 500-HURT or contact us online for a free case review.