Whenever an individual is injured as a result of the actions of an intoxicated person, the injured party may bring a personal injury claim against the individual in question, of course. Like in several other states, in Illinois, the injured party may also bring a claim against the bar or tavern owner who supplied the alcohol or intoxicating agent to the individual that caused the injury. Known as “dram shop” claims, these actions are named for the unit of measure (a dram) by which alcohol was traditionally sold.
In Illinois, a person filing a personal injury claim against a vendor that sold the alcohol may seek to redress personal injury, property damage and damage to means of support or loss of society.
Unlike other states that have dram shop laws on the books, Illinois does not require a plaintiff to prove that a vendor continued to serve alcohol after the defendant was shown to be visibly intoxicated, only that the vendor supplied the alcohol that caused the intoxication directly related to your injuries.
Proving a dram shop claim involves demonstrating that the individual who caused your injuries was indeed intoxicated when the injuries occurred, that the vendor in question provided the alcohol (whether by sale or not) to the individual, that the person who consumed the alcohol became intoxicated as a result and that their actions resulted (at least in part) in your injuries or property damage.
On the other hand, Illinois' dram shop law does not hold liable social hosts (parties who serve or provide alcohol in their home or non commercial establishment). So let's say that John is inebriated after having attended a private party in the home of Jill, a coworker, and while driving home injures a woman crossing the street at an intersection after failing to yield. While the woman may bring a claim against John for personal injury damages, she cannot also file a dram shop claim against Jill because she is a social host. However, if John was leaving a bar and caused the same accident, the woman harmed in the accident could also bring a dram shop claim against the bar owners for their part in providing the alcohol, which caused John to be intoxicated.
If, however, John is under the age of 21, Illinois' dram shop law does provided a limited social host liability under which the injured woman may sue the social host for providing a minor alcohol, which is illegal in Illinois. It is also illegal to provide hotel or other venue for a minor to consume alcohol (i.e. a graduation party where alcohol is served to minors).
There is a ceiling on damages in dram shop cases plaintiffs should be aware of. With regards to both an accident victim's personal injury and an affected family member's loss of consortium or support due to an accident victim's injuries or death, Illinois dram shop law limits damages to $45,000 for injury and $55,000 for loss of support or companionship. However, the law does allow for increase or decrease of these limits based on the consumer price index. Be careful though, unlike most other Illinois personal injury cases, dram shop claims must be filed within a year from the date of injury or knowledge of injuries caused.
If you have questions about filing a dram shop personal injury claim, we can help. The attorneys of Panio Law Offices offer a vast array of personal injury law expertise, and we work hard to ensure our clients receive the maximum damage amounts allowed by law. Call us at (708) 928-8680. We can help.