In some states, when an intoxicated driver causes an accident and injures someone, the victim may sue that driver as well as the bar that served alcohol. This is called a “dram shop” rule or “social host” rule. It holds an establishment liable for furnishing liquor to someone who then injures someone else. Such a law allows victims to have an additional avenue for compensation.
Does California have a dram shop law? Yes, California does have a form of dram shop law, but it’s much more limited than those in other states. If you’re hoping to maximize your compensation from a drunk-driving accident in California, it’s best to have an injury lawyer on your side.
Reach out to Gavel Law Firm. We are trusted in the Riverside area for our excellent handling of DUI injury cases.
- Advantageous experience. We have previous experience in the insurance industry, and now use this as an advantage to maximize claims for our clients.
- Personalized strategy. Instead of relying on cookie-cutter approaches, Gavel Law Firm dedicates time and skills to each case. We find ways to get the best possible results, even when a case seems complex.
- You pay nothing until you win. We charge no lawyer fees until we obtain compensation for you. Your consultation is also free. You risk no money but get high-quality legal service from us.
See what Gavel Law Firm can do for you. Get a free consultation by calling us at (951) 289-0202 today.
Can a Bar be Held Liable for a Drunk Driver in California?
The answer to this is: it depends. If a California car crash is caused by an adult intoxicated driver, it is not likely that the serving bar would be held liable to pay for injuries. But if the drunk driver is under 21 years old, an injured party may be able to sue the driver as well as the bar for damages.
In California, liquor establishments are largely protected from civil liability in cases of drunk-driving accidents. In fact, the California Business and Professions Code Section 25602 specifically states that alcohol establishments cannot be liable in civil court if their customer injures another person.
The state’s logic, according to California Civil Code Section 1714, is that it is the consumption of alcohol, not the serving of it, that is the cause of drunk-driving injuries.
However, an exception to this principle is when a customer is underaged. In California, it is illegal to sell or serve alcohol to someone under 21 years old. Doing so could mean a misdemeanor charge against the establishment. It also means that the establishment will likely be held responsible if the underaged customer subsequently causes an accident.
If you would like to know whether a bar or pub could be responsible in your specific case, please don’t hesitate to speak with our attorneys. You get a free, no-obligation consultation at Gavel Law Firm, so call us today for reliable legal guidance.
What is the Dram Shop Law in California?
A dram shop law is a rule that says establishments could share the liability if a person to whom they provided alcohol injures someone. This means that in a drunk-driving crash, the establishment could also be sued by the injured party. Many states have their own version of this rule. For instance, a bar, club, or pub could be held responsible if they overserved liquor to an already-drunk person.
The California dram shop law is limited to serving alcohol to underaged persons. If an establishment knowingly served alcohol to someone under 21, that establishment could share responsibility if the minor causes harm to themselves or others.
Note that California’s dram shop rule is not exclusive to commercial bars or clubs. Adult persons could also be held responsible for knowingly giving liquor to underaged persons in residential settings. For example, it could be some relatives sharing beers with younger family members, or adult friends who serve alcohol to underage invitees at a party. This is also called the “social host” rule.
Claiming Damages from a Bar for Your DUI Injuries
If you or a family member was injured by a drunk driver in California, the dram shop law potentially provides you with an additional means to get compensated. If it is found that the bar or pub shares liability in your accident, you could claim damages from them or their insurance company, on top of your claim against the drunk driver.
Your compensation may pay for:
- Medical bills
- Therapy or rehabilitation costs
- Pain and suffering
- Lost income
- Reduced ability to earn
- Mental or emotional distress
- Lowered quality of life
- And more.
Likewise, if your family member was tragically killed by a drunk driver, you may file a claim for wrongful death. A successful wrongful death claim can help relieve your financial burdens such as burial or cremation costs, lost income, and lost benefits.
With the help of an experienced lawyer, you can explore the possibility of claiming against the alcohol-serving business. Gavel Law Firm is eager to listen to your story and evaluate your best legal course of action for a drunk-driving injury or wrongful death.
Riverside Bar, Alcohol, and Drunk-Driving Accident FAQs
Can you sue a bar for overserving in California?
The short answer is no – in California, you generally cannot file a lawsuit against a bar that overserved a customer, even if that customer then causes a car accident. One exception, however, is if the customer is under 21 years old. In this case, the bar could be sued if they knowingly served alcohol to the minor.
How common is intoxicated driving in Riverside, California?
Thousands of drivers get arrested in Riverside County each year for driving under the influence (DUI). According to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), in 2020 alone, 5,438 DUI arrests occurred in Riverside County.
Unfortunately, this means numerous people are also killed in DUI accidents. The Murrieta Police Department revealed that in 2021, some 1,413 individuals died in impaired-driving accidents in Riverside County.
What establishments fall under the California dram shop law?
Any commercial establishment licensed to serve alcohol may fall under the dram shop law in California. These include bars, pubs, clubs, breweries, restaurants, and more. In addition, adult individuals could likewise face liability in California if they consciously serve alcohol to minors.
Whom do I sue if the Riverside drunk driver is a minor?
If the drunk driver who injured you is a minor, you may file a lawsuit against their parent or legal guardian. This may add some complexity to the case, so it’s wise to at least consult a personal injury attorney for sound legal advice.
Contact a Riverside Bar/Drunk-Driving Injury Lawyer from Gavel Law Firm
Since 2016, Gavel Law Firm has helped Southern Californians get the maximum compensation possible after their accidents. Our attorneys are skilled at personal injury and wrongful death cases involving alcohol, and we are not afraid to pursue claims against all responsible parties.
Consult with us for free. Call Gavel Law Firm at (951) 289-0202.