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Holding an Iowa Bar Responsible for a Drunk-Driving Death

It wasn’t a bartender who slammed into your loved one’s car. The bartender who served the drunk driver prior to the accident wasn’t anywhere near the accident scene. Yet the bartender could be responsible for your loved one’s death.

But Was He?

Bartenders have difficult jobs. They make money—and serve their employers well—if they sell as many drinks as possible. Yet there comes a point when those drinks may be dangerous and lives may be lost because of the drinks that were sold and served.

Iowa law recognizes that this can be difficult balance. Accordingly, the Iowa Dram Shop Law allows those injured by intoxicated people, or their survivors, to recover from a bar if an employee continued to serve alcoholic beverages to a customer who was intoxicated or who appeared to be intoxicated.

The law is clear, however. Even if you can establish that the bar knew or should have known that the customer was drunk, it is intoxicated person who caused the accident who is the proximate cause of the crash.

What Can You Do?

You may have a civil claim for monetary damages against the bar if you can prove the elements described above. The Dram Shop Act provides only for a civil action—not a criminal one—although the person who was driving the car while intoxicated and who caused the accident may also face criminal charges.

Your time to file a claim is limited. You may only have a matter of months from the time of the accident to notify the bar of your legal claim. Accordingly, we encourage you to find out more about your rights and to take action immediately if you have lost a loved one in this tragic way.

Jason F. Abraham
Managing Partner, Hupy and Abraham
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