Illinois Dram Shop Laws

Impaired driving | July 20, 2021

Illinois Dram Shop Law

Drunk driving accidents are far too common throughout the state of Illinois. These incidents can lead to severe injuries for those involved, particularly innocent third parties. In most situations, we will find that the driver who was impaired by alcohol will be held liable for the incident. This means that the impaired driver will be responsible for covering the expenses of other parties who sustained injuries or property damage. However, there are certain circumstances where a third party could be held liable for providing alcohol to the person who caused the crash. Here, our Chicago drunk driving accident lawyers want to discuss the Illinois dram shop law.

What is the Dram Shop Law in Illinois?

When we turn to the Illinois General Statutes, we can see that the law allows for a person who is injured by intoxicated individuals to file claims for damages against the person who supplied the intoxicated person with alcohol. Some of the parties that could be held liable in these situations include various alcohol vendors, including restaurant servers, store clerks, bartenders, etc.

The dram shop law in Illinois allows alcohol vendors to be held responsible for these incidents regardless of whether or not they did anything wrong. In most states, dram shop laws only allow vendors to be held responsible if they provided alcohol to a person who was visibly intoxicated or underage.

Let us look at a theoretical example of how this law may be applied in Illinois:

Suppose George heads out on a Saturday night to the Brake Bar. After several beers at the bar, George proceeds to his vehicle and starts to drive to another bar across town. Suppose that George then runs through an intersection against a red light and causes a T-bone collision with Patricia. 

Patricia could bring a civil claim directly against George for her injuries. Additionally, she can choose to file a claim against the Brake Bar under Illinois’s dram shop law because they provided the alcohol that intoxicated George.

What About Hosts of Smaller Social Gatherings?

Illinois law is fairly specific when it comes to who could be held responsible in these situations. While alcohol vendors can be held liable for injuries caused by an intoxicated person, state law will typically not allow similar claims to be brought against those who host social events and provide alcohol at parties. 

In following the same example above, let us suppose that George had become intoxicated at a party at his friend’s house. If George left the party after having several drinks and then ran the red light and T-boned Patricia, Patricia would not be able to file a claim against George’s friend. Even though the mechanism of injury and the cause of the incident did not change between these two examples, the person who supplied alcohol did change. Illinois’s dram shop law will simply not apply in the second scenario. However, Patricia could still file a civil claim directly against George to recover compensation for her losses.

Work With an Attorney

If you or somebody you care about has been injured due to the actions of an intoxicated driver, you need to work with an attorney to help you secure compensation for your losses. A skilled Chicago car accident lawyer will be able to examine the facts of your case. An attorney will determine which parties can be held responsible and help you file the appropriate claims.

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