Why do people file dram shop claims after car crashes?

Drunk driving crashes are, unfortunately, a common safety concern in Kentucky. Collisions caused by those under the influence remain one of the leading causes of severe injury and death involving motor vehicles. As with most types of collisions, drunk driving crashes often lead to insurance claims.

Motorists in Alabama are required to carry liability coverage, and if they cause crashes that hurt people or damage property, the parties affected can file an insurance claim. Occasionally, collisions that result in more serious injuries or someone’s death will result in a lawsuit. Most lawsuits will target the driver who caused the crash, as they made the decision to drive after drinking despite the law forbidding impaired driving.

Occasionally, people hurt in drunk driving crashes or lose a loved one in a wreck will file a lawsuit against a business instead of – or in addition to – the driver. People refer to such lawsuits as dram shop claims. Why would people sue a business over the actions of a drunk driver?

The business served the drunk driver alcohol

The basis of a dram shop claim is that a business with a liquor license could have legal responsibility for the behavior of a patron if there was a violation of liquor law. Kentucky does protect businesses from liability and scenarios where they adhere to state standards.

If staff members at a bar or restaurant violate Kentucky liquor laws, then the business may have liability for a drunk driving crash that occurs afterward. The two scenarios in which a business could face a lawsuit over its alcohol service practices include when waitstaff or bartenders serve someone who is under the age of 21 or when they continue serving alcohol to a patron who is already visibly drunk. Provided that the people impacted by the drunk driving collision that results can establish that the motorist previously consumed alcohol in violation of state statutes at a licensed business, they may have grounds for a dram shop claim.

There’s a practical motive for dram shop claims

Just because the law allows for a lawsuit doesn’t mean that one is necessary. However, drunk driving crashes tend to have devastating economic consequences for the people hurt or those who lose their loved ones.

An individual’s insurance policy may not be nearly enough to cover the costs generated when they drive drunk and cause a wreck. The insurance policies covering businesses tend to be more robust, and businesses generally have more assets than individuals, especially individuals facing incarceration for breaking the law. Understanding why dram shop claims are sometimes necessary after Kentucky car wrecks may help people better evaluate their options after a crash.


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