Could a Kentucky bar be liable for a drunk driving collision?

It is effectively impossible to obtain a driver’s license in Kentucky without learning that it is illegal to drink alcohol before driving. State-approved driver’s education courses typically always include segments on impaired driving. There are also public awareness campaigns trying to remind people about the dangers of getting behind the wheel after drinking. Unfortunately, some people unintentionally or persistently make unsafe choices that may put others at risk.

When drunk drivers cause crashes in Kentucky, they are usually responsible for the aftermath of their own choices. However, people can sometimes take legal action against a business if a drunk driver does not have insurance or lacks the personal resources necessary to properly compensate the victims of a crash that they caused.

When does Kentucky law permit those affected by drunk driving collisions to hold a bar or other business that serves alcohol responsible for crash-related harm?

The law limits business liability

State statutes in Kentucky very clearly limit legal action against bars or restaurants. In most cases, drunk drivers are personally responsible for the consequences of their actions, and the businesses they patronize have protection from liability.

Still, the law does currently include one exception to the statute protecting businesses from liability related to alcohol service. If the business serves alcohol to a patron who is clearly under the influence already, then that might open the business up to financial and legal liability should a crash occur.

If a reasonable person could tell from an individual’s conduct or the number of drinks they ordered that they would likely already be under the influence, then the servers or bar staff at a business may have violated state statutes by continuing to provide drinks to someone already visibly under the influence.

Factors ranging from someone’s behavior at the scene of a crash to test results showing an exceptionally high BAC could help people that those working at a business should have been able to reasonably deduce that the customer should not receive additional drinks because of their intoxication.

Lawsuits filed in accordance with the Kentucky dram shop law can help to compensate those harmed by the bad behavior of a drunk driver enabled by the permissive conduct of employees at a bar or restaurant. Learning more about Kentucky’s liability rules for drunk driving crashes, and seeking legal guidance accordingly, may benefit those seeking justice after an expensive wreck.


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