Drunk Driver Case: Suing an Establishment for Serving Alcohol to a Drunk Patron Who Later Caused an Accident

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Going out and drinking is a voluntary act, which means if you got intoxicated and sat behind a wheel, there’s no one to blame but yourself. A drunk driver is a hazard to themselves as well as others.

But, if you were involved in such an accident, it’s natural that you wonder if there is someone else liable for the accident, besides the driver. And no, not another vehicle, bad weather or something like that, but bartenders and bars who served that person alcohol.

According to the old English laws that were brought to America, provided that only the person who drank alcohol is liable for any injuries they caused while under the influence. However, things changed over the decades, so today it’s very much probable that a bar and bartender can be responsible for the accident.

Down below you can find more details about Oregon laws related to serving alcohol to an intoxicated person.

If you have caused an accident while under the influence or were pulled over by an officer while drunk driving, you should seek help from a Portland DUI attorney.

Bartender Liability Laws

Oregon (just like more than half of the U.S states) have passed laws setting out circumstances in which a bar that provides alcohol to a person can be liable for the acts of the intoxicated person. The laws are also known as Dram Shop laws, referring to establishments from the past that served liquor by the “dram” (old liquid measurements, today’s equivalent of 1/8 ounce).

A Bartender’s Legal Responsibility to Patrons in Oregon

Many people wonder if they can sue a bartender that over-servers alcohol. If you were the person consuming alcohol and caused an accident, can you sue the bar and the bartender? But, also can a person injured in a DUI accident sue the bar and the bartender.

Oregon law states that a patron or guest who voluntarily consumes alcohol from a licensed seller, can’t sue the server of the alcoholic beverages for injuries that occurred as a result of the intoxication.

This is relevant even if the server was aware that the person was intoxicated.

Is the Establishment Who Served Alcohol Solely Responsible?

In Oregon, if a drunk driver causes an accident and injures another person (or kills them) are just as responsible as the offending alcohol provider.

The victim of a drunk driver can collect a claim from the drink driver’s auto insurance if they have insurance. The minimum amount of motor vehicle liability insurance coverage under Oregon law is $25 000.

The victim can seek personal assets of the drunk driver if the driver lacks auto insurance. If the driver doesn’t have much in individual assets and wealth then Oregon’s dram shop law will hold negligent the providers of alcohol. The bar can be responsible for any damage caused because they kept serving a visibly intoxicated patron. Plaintiffs may have a challenging time to prove that the driver was visibly drunk (which is why they usually have skilled attorneys by their side).

Punitive Damages

The plaintiff may seek punitive damages against the establishment that provided alcohol to the visibly drunk guest.

However, this depends on the case. Punitive damages are a form of compensation, which will punish the offending drunk driver (it will serve as a good example for other drivers).

Punitive damages and threatening of punitive damages make DUI accidents verdicts and settlements much higher than normal cases of accidents and injuries in Oregon.

Oregon liquor liability law allows victims of DUI accidents to pursue punitive damages against bars, taverns and other providers of alcohol.

The establishment will be a subject for punitive damages if a bartender who works there kept serving alcohol to a visibly drunk patron instead of cutting them off and calling them a cab. However, punitive damages aren’t automatic.

If you caused an accident while driving under the influence, it’s very likely that you will face charges. Also, the injured person will seek a compensation claim from your insurers. You can expect to face a harsh penalty including prison time.

In cases like this, you shouldn’t go into the process on your own. You will need a strong defence from a skilled DUI attorney.

Once you have a chance to contact a DUI lawyer and let them review your case, preparing your defence. Avoid explaining what happened, where and how much you’ve been drinking before you consult with your lawyer.

Get in touch with the Trilogy Law DUI team and let us stand by your side.


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