Indiana’s dram shop laws hold providers of alcohol liable for injuries or deaths caused by an intoxicated individual under certain circumstances. The law, found in Ind. Code § 7.1-5-10-15.5, is commonly applied in cases where a bartender overserved a visibly intoxicated patron and the patron proceeds to drive under the influence and cause some type of personal injury accident. However, civil liability can also extend to social hosts or homeowners who similarly provide alcohol to a visibly intoxicated person.

How do you establish dram shop liability?

To establish civil liability under dram shop laws in Indiana, three main elements must be present to hold a bar, restaurant, or social host responsible:

  1. The defendant must have furnished alcohol to a person. This includes the actual transfer of possession of alcohol by some means. Examples of actions that may be considered “furnishing” include selling someone drinks as a server or bartender, buying someone a drink at an establishment, or allowing someone to have a drink you have provided.
  2. The defendant must have actual knowledge that the recipient of the alcohol is visibly intoxicated. The defendant must be aware the recipient is intoxicated, meaning they must visibly appear intoxicated. This can be established by a variety of factors, such as slurring their words, stumbling, blood shot eyes, a BAC level, or other clear signs of intoxication.
  3. The intoxication of the defendant was the “proximate” cause of an injury or death. This is most often evident in cases of driving under the influence and causing an accident.

Can you sue for personal injury and dram shop liability?

If you were injured by a drunk driver that was overserved at an establishment, you can file a personal injury claim against the drunk driver as well as bring a claim against the establishment. They are exclusive suits, with different defendants – meaning the outcome of one does not affect the other. A personal injury claim can include damages to your vehicle, catastrophic injuries, and wrongful death.

When to call Wagner Reese

It is important to note that dram shop liability cases are usually fact-dependent and require contextual evidence to support a judgement in favor of claimants. Let our team of liability lawyers investigate the circumstances of the accident to determine if overserving at an establishment could be a cause.

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured by an intoxicated driver, call the personal injury law firm of Wagner Reese, and let us begin investigating your claim against any person or commercial establishment that may have furnished alcohol to an intoxicated person or minor.

We currently have offices in Indianapolis, Carmel, Fort Wayne, Champaign, Evansville, and West Lafayette.

Call us today to schedule your free, no-obligation case evaluation.