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Dram Shop Laws in Illinois: What You Need to Know


Victims of accidents involving drunk drivers can face lifelong physical difficulties or even death, in some cases when people act irresponsibly while drinking. This not only includes those who choose to drink and drive; many times those who serve the alcohol in the first place are found to be liable. These are known as dram shop laws.

The series of events that led to a drunk driving accident makes a major impact on an injury case when it goes to court. Insurance companies for drunk drivers who are at fault commonly settle with injured victims when the case is obvious, but they will still want to consider the behavior of the injured claimant if they were driving at the time of the mishap.

Financial compensation is still available, but being equitably compensated for damages can be a difficult legal challenge when an insurance company is defending against the claim. That is why it is always imperative to have an experienced personal injury attorney representing your case for full compensation.

Claim Against the Driver

Accidents involving drunk drivers who have recently left a bar or restaurant will focus on the driver first when compensation is being pursued. Citations for driving under the influence are not uncommon, which can be beneficial to any injured claimant because a trial for financial recovery could result in a punitive damage award as well as compensation for all medical bills, lost wages, and ongoing physical problems.

Wrongful death claims could also apply under certain circumstances, including legal standing to file for the immediate family, but these claims could still be limited by the amount of insurance protection the negligent driver carries on their auto policy.

Claims Against a Host

Claims pursuing damages from a restaurant or social establishment are much different from an auto accident. The documentation that is available from public record is not always accessible against the establishment. Testimony from witnesses is vital when a dram shop case is heard, which means that nuance and technicality could be used as a defense.

Cases typically will go to a full trial, and competing versions of events are common elements. The jury must decide who to believe when this is happening, and the concept of reasonable doubt does not apply in civil cases.

These cases can still be difficult to present in a trial and always require the expertise of a personal injury attorney who knows how to craft a solid dram shop case in court.

Potential Damages

Many times, a claim against a liable establishment helps injured parties obtain fair compensation. Restaurants and bars owned by major corporations always carry significantly higher insurance protection than the typical driver, and many times they have specific insurance just for these types of situations.

Their contribution to the intoxication level of the negligent driver usually controls the level of damages they are required to pay, with punitive damages applying to them also in certain instances of gross negligence. Punitive damages are normally set according to the total of compensatory damages, amounting to a much greater financial award.

Always remember that dram shop lawsuits are always strongly defended and require a personal injury attorney who knows what to expect as a defense. Your attorney makes a major difference in a dram shop case. In Illinois, Panio Law Offices can make all the difference.

Contact our firm at (708) 928-8680 for a free consultation to discuss your personal injury case.

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