Imagine this: you’re driving down the road when suddenly, another car collides with you, crashing into your vehicle. You may be hurt, but when you approach the other driver to exchange information, you smell a heavy presence of alcohol on their breath. Unfortunately, this is a situation that happens to countless individuals each year. Drunk driving accidents are some of the most serious, leaving individuals with catastrophic injuries.

When it comes to civil legal matters, drunk drivers should be held financially accountable for the damages they cause. However, not many people know that due to dram laws in Missouri, there may be another at fault party in drunk driving accidents. If this happened to you, it’s time to consult an experienced car accident attorney in Kansas City who specializes in this area of law.

Dram Laws in Missouri Hold Establishments and Social Hosts Accountable

A dram is a Scottish word that refers to a little pour of a spirit. Historically, dram shops were taverns, boarding houses, and other establishments that served liquor, beer, and wine. Today, various dram shop laws exist in nearly all states in America—and in Missouri, Statute 537.053 is the state’s dram shop act.

It states that victims of drunk driving accidents have the right to hold social hosts or establishments such as bars and restaurants accountable after they suffer significant injuries in a collision caused by the recklessness of someone else. This includes filing a personal injury or wrongful death claim against them if the following factors can be proven:

  • If it’s a bar or another establishment, it must be shown that the business was responsible for serving a person who was already visibly intoxicated, or that the individual was a minor, and allowed them to leave and drive. This contribution may be considered negligence if an accident occurs. 
  • For social hosts, the case is similar. If they continue to serve alcohol to an already visibly intoxicated person or a minor and allow them to leave and drive, the social host may be held accountable for a victim’s injuries sustained in an accident with the intoxicated motorist.

Why You’ll Need the Help of a Skilled Attorney

It’s important to note that dram shop lawsuits are considered additional to the case against the intoxicated driver. This means that hiring an attorney whose expertise covers all areas of drunk driving cases is critical to your success. 

Dram shop laws exist, at least according to some states’ intentions, to encourage establishments to help employees recognize a patron’s point of inebriation. In Missouri, the legal blood alcohol content limit (BAC) is .08 which, for a person of average size, is the level they’ll reach after about four-to-five drinks over a period of a couple of hours. By law, a server or bartender—or social host—should cut off further service and prevent the individual from driving

But proving that an establishment or social host was liable for the drunk driving incident is complex, as there has to be enough evidence to indicate that the incident was foreseeable, based on the condition and behaviors of the patron or guest. This burden of proof is in addition to what your attorney must establish against the intoxicated driver in your case. But with patience and diligence, your legal team should be able to secure proper compensation and justice for you.

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