Everything You Need to Know About California Dram Shop Laws

Understanding accident liability isn’t always easy, especially in cases with multiple defendants. Luckily, you don’t have to figure it out alone. As top Orange County personal injury lawyers, we thrive on complexity, using every resource to secure the compensation you deserve. Contact Case Barnett Law online to schedule your free consultation. 

people giving cheers with alcohol in Orange County bar

Our Costa Mesa auto accident attorney knows that drinking and driving is a bad idea, yet it still happens. Reckless people routinely get behind the wheel while intoxicated, and in the worst-case scenarios, they cause catastrophic accidents. When this happens, the intoxicated driver is obviously at fault. But are they the only liable party? 

When bartenders continue to serve alcohol to dangerously intoxicated patrons, they can sometimes be liable for accidents caused by the drunk party. These scenarios are dictated by each state’s dram shop laws — policies that allow DUI-related accident victims to hold the drinking establishment responsible for their injuries. 

However, dram shop laws aren’t always applicable, especially in California. That’s why if you or a loved one was injured by an over-served, intoxicated driver, you should consult a personal injury lawyer to find out if you’re eligible for third-party compensation. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about dram shop lawsuits in California. 

If you suffered serious injuries in an accident caused by someone else, you shouldn’t be footing the bill for your recovery. The experienced car accident lawyers at Case Barnett Law can fight for the full compensation you deserve. Call us at 949-409-0055 to get started. 

California Dram Shop Laws: Who Is Liable? 

Each state has different laws regarding when a vendor or social host can be held liable for the actions of people they over-served. The State of California severely limits third-party liability for alcohol-related accidents, meaning dram shop lawsuits are only successful in rare cases. 

According to California Civil Code Section 1714, furnishing alcohol “is not the proximate cause of injuries resulting from intoxication, but rather the consumption of alcoholic beverages.” This law essentially prevents bars, restaurants, and party hosts from being held liable for DUI-related injuries. However, there are exceptions. 

Adults Who Furnish Alcohol to Minors

The first exception is when a parent, guardian, or another adult at their residence knowingly provides alcohol to a minor. If the intoxicated, underaged guest gets into a DUI-related accident, the adult who furnished their alcohol can be held liable for their injuries, as well as the injuries they might have inflicted on anyone else. 

Licensed Sellers Who Knowingly Serve Minors

The second exception is similar, but it applies to those who are licensed to sell, provide, or serve alcohol. According to California Business and Professions Code Section 25602.1, a person working at a bar, restaurant, or liquor store who provides alcohol to an obviously intoxicated minor can be held liable for any injuries or deaths caused by the minor. 

Am I Eligible to Receive Damages? 

Suppose a 17-year-old named Jack goes out to a bar with his older friends. The bartender knows that Jack is a minor but decides to serve him anyway. After several drinks, Jack is slurring his words and stumbles. Not feeling well, he decides to leave the bar. On his drive home, he runs a red light, T-boning a vehicle whose driver has to go to the hospital. 

In this situation, Jack is obviously at fault. However, he’s not the only party to blame — the person who knowingly served a minor to the point of intoxication should also be held responsible. Under California law, the injured party may be able to file a lawsuit for the following damages

Remember: These damages are only available to people in select situations involving a minor. If Jack were a 34-year-old, the people he injured would not be able to file a third-party lawsuit against the bar or against the party host who furnished the alcohol. 

If you’re unsure about whether you can file a dram shop lawsuit, don’t worry. An experienced car accident lawyer in Orange County will be able to assess your situation, determine eligibility, and, if need be, help you calculate a fair settlement. 

Case Barnett Law: Top Dram Shop Lawyers in Orange County

Ultimately, California holds adults accountable for their own intoxicated actions, which is why the drunk driver is generally the only liable party in DUI-related accidents. However, the situation gets more nuanced when a minor is involved. 

If you or a loved one were injured in a DUI-related accident and suspect that the intoxicated driver was overserved, it’s important to find out. In addition to third-party compensation, you could prevent a negligent bartender from overserving someone else. Our experienced Costa Mesa personal injury attorney team is more than happy to investigate. 

Case C. Barnett
Costa Mesa Personal Injury Attorney practicing in child injury law, car accident injuries and elder abuse law
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