Drinking too many alcoholic beverages at a bar or restaurant can lead to alcohol-related injuries, accidents or worse. As a dram shop attorney in Chicago, I want to provide you a brief overview on the dram shop liability law in Illinois.
If you or a loved one has suffered an alcohol-related injury, contact me today at 847-305-4105 for a free consultation or read below to learn more about what you can do to recover.
Dram Shop Laws in General
Dram shop laws are a body of laws that provide a legal cause of action against the owner of a tavern, pub, restaurant or other establishment that provided alcohol to someone who caused an injury or damages.
This does not necessarily apply to social hosts who provided alcohol to guests at a social function. Check the laws of your state to determine whether social hosts are on the hook as well.
Illinois Dram Shop Act Definition
The Illinois dram shop law ensures that those who sell or dispense alcoholic beverages to obviously intoxicated individuals or minors are held responsible for any damages or injuries that those individuals cause. This can include motor vehicle accidents, physical altercations, harassment, slip and falls, property damage, and more.
Statute of limitations
Per Illinois statute, there is a one-year time limit in which to file a lawsuit under the Dram Shop Act.
Important: Note that the one-year time limit is significantly shorter than the amount of time in which you have to file a lawsuit for your injuries against the defendant. If you suspect that a pub or other establishment may be at fault for your injuries, do not delay. Contact a Chicago attorney immediately at 847-305-4105.
Elements of the cause of action
To establish a cause of action under the Illinois Dram Shop Act, a plaintiff must prove the following:
- The alcohol was sold or dispensed by the defendant
- The defendant could foresee that this alcohol would cause the plaintiff or perpetrator to become intoxicated
- There are damages (medical, property, emotional, etc.)
- These damages were caused by the patron’s or the plaintiff’s intoxication
Illinois’ stricter laws mean that anyone who sold or gave the patron alcohol throughout the evening leading up to the incident can be held comparatively negligent.
Bars, restaurants, and vendors often use the following defenses:
- Extraterritoriality: the alcohol was consumed outside of the state of Illinois
- Provocation: the injuries suffered by the plaintiff are due to a provocation on their part
- Complicity: that the plaintiff is one of the people actively contributing to the intoxication of the patron or themselves
The amount a victim can recover under the Illinois Dram Shop Act is limited. The amount changes every year. In 2018, the dram shop liability limits for alcohol-related injuries are:
- For causes of action involving persons injured, killed, or incurring property damage on or after January 20, 2018, the judgment or recovery cannot exceed $68,777.44
- For causes of action for loss of means of support or loss of society resulting from the death or injury of any person on or after January 20, 2018, the judgment or recovery cannot exceed $84,061.32
Note that this money is on top of the money you can recover from the defendant who caused your accident.
For a free evaluation of the viability of your Illinois Dram Shop Act case, contact our office today at 847-305-4105 for a free consultation.