Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Georgia Dram Shop Lawsuits


August 27, 2016

A negligent driver is the most common defendant in a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit arising from an motor vehicle accident. However, this option becomes problematic when the other driver has no insurance. Even if a drunk driver carries minimum liability coverage under Georgia law, which is $25,000 per person and $50,000 per occurrence, these limits will often be woefully inadequate if you have suffered severe injuries, or multiple victims were injured. Commercial establishments such as restaurants, bars, resorts, hotels, and clubs that sell alcohol can be liable for injuries and fatalities caused by their patrons under certain circumstances. The liability of a business that serves alcohol can be important to a drunk driving case because business establishments generally tend to have a large amount of insurance coverage. In this blog article, our Atlanta drunk driving attorneys at Montlick and Associates, Attorney at Law, answer common questions about dram shop lawsuits in Georgia.

What are dram shop laws?

Dram shop laws refer to the body of laws that govern the liability of businesses that serve alcohol to customers. The laws limit the liability of commercial establishments like taverns, eateries, inns, and other entities that sell alcohol to specific situations.

When can a business be held liable for serving alcohol to a motorist who causes a drunk driving accident under Georgia law?

Under Georgia law, a commercial establishment that serves alcohol to patrons who cause alcohol-related accidents can be liable in two scenarios: (1) the alcohol-impaired driver is under the age of 21; or (2) the customer was served alcohol even though he was noticeably intoxicated and likely to drive after leaving.

Why is an experienced Georgia dram shop lawyer necessary if the drunk driver who caused my injuries was underage or noticeably intoxicated?

In order to show that a business is liable for injuries caused by a noticeably intoxicated customer, the injured person(s) must show proof that employees were aware that the defendant planned to drive. Bartenders, waiters, and waitresses frequently contend they had no idea that the customer would be driving a vehicle away from the business.

The task of proving a customer was "noticeably intoxicated" also can present a challenge. While some people display physical manifestations of alcohol intoxication, such as slurred speech, unsteady gait, impaired coordination, and bloodshot eyes, many people display no external signs of being drunk even with a high blood alcohol concentration. Our Atlanta dram shop lawyers gather information to support our clients' dram shop cases by interviewing witnesses as well as investigating credit card records, video surveillance footage, among other pieces of evidence.

Can a dram shop lawsuit still be pursued if the other driver was negligent and has insurance coverage?

Personal injury and wrongful death victims are not limited to pursuing a claim against only a single responsible party. A judge or jury can determine that both the other driver and the commercial establishment were negligent and assign a percentage of fault to both parties.

What if my injuries were incurred during an assault and battery committed by a drunken customer?

Although a business will not always be liable for injuries caused in this situation, the entity that served the perpetrator might be financially responsible. The issue in such cases typically involves the degree to which the violent crime was foreseeable. 

Put Our Law Firm's Over 30 Years of Experience to Work For You

If you or a loved one suffers serious injury because a commercial establishment served alcohol to an underage or noticeably intoxicated patron, our experienced Atlanta drunk driving accident lawyers strive to pursue fair and full compensation for our clients within the bounds of the law. Montlick and Associates has been representing those who suffer serious injuries in Atlanta and the Southeast for over thirty years, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. No matter where you are located, our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you.

Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at www.montlick.com and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.

Category: Personal Injury

Please Note:
Many of our blog articles discuss the law. All information provided about the law is very general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Every situation is different, and should be analyzed by a lawyer who can provide individualized advice based on the facts involved in your unique situation, and a consideration of all of the nuances of the statutes and case law that apply at the time.