A wrongful death claim citing the dram shop act must prove that a bar, restaurant, liquor store or other establishment was negligent in serving the patron. Common examples are failing to ask a patron for identification (often related to cases involving minors) and serving a patron who is obviously intoxicated.
Of course, some dram shop wrongful death cases can face challenges. For example, a bar may argue that the patron was not intoxicated when leaving the bar or a liquor store owner may argue that there’s no evidence that the patron was intoxicated from alcohol purchased at the store. Video surveillance, eyewitness testimony, receipts and other documentation may be helpful in establishing liability in these cases.
Even with such evidence, the defendant may cite other defenses, such as that the drinks on a receipt were shared among several patrons. Of course, denying a bartender knew a patron was intoxicated may be difficult when surveillance video shows the patron spilling drinks and stumbling around the bar area. Similarly, eyewitness testimony may indicate the patron was slurring his speech and acting belligerently in front of the bar staff.
Discuss other evidence and how to address any defenses specific to your own case with your attorney.
In some cases, a drunk driver may come from a private residence where the host served alcohol. Through a few court decisions, Ohio has found that a social host who serves alcohol to an adult who later causes a fatal drunk driving accident is not liable.
But a social host who serves alcohol to a minor who later causes a fatal drunk driving accident – where the minor is killed or kills another person – may be liable. In the first scenario, the social host did not break any laws; whereas, in the second scenario, the social host did break a law by providing alcohol to a minor.
Due to the complexities of alcohol-related liability and wrongful death cases in general, speak with a personal injury attorney for a consultation and for help with your case. At Ryan, LLP in Cleveland, we handle wrongful death cases involving a drunk driver and can explore dram shop liability as well. Learn more about your legal options by contacting us for a free case evaluation. Call us at (877) 864-9495 or use our online contact form.