The drunk driver who caused your crash is legally responsible for the accident, but that driver may not be the only party who is legally responsible for your injuries. In some cases, a third party may also be a defendant in your Illinois drunk driving accident case.

Dram shop and social host liability laws differ from state to state. Third-party liability for a drunk driving accident is different in Illinois than it is in Wisconsin or Iowa, for example.

Accordingly, you need to work with an experienced Illinois personal injury lawyer to make sure that the right defendants are identified and held accountable after an Illinois drunk driving crash.

Illinois Dram Shop Law

Alcohol vendors may be liable for injuries caused by drunk customers in some situations. In many states, alcohol vendors are only liable if they knowingly served an intoxicated customer or they served alcohol to someone under the age of 21. However, Illinois dram shop laws are broader than that.

In Illinois, a vendor (such as a bar, club, or restaurant) may be liable for any injuries caused by an intoxicated person who was served alcohol at their establishment. There is no requirement that the vendor knew or should have known that the customer was intoxicated.

To hold a bar, restaurant, or club responsible, you need to prove that:

  • A vendor-customer relationship existed. This is typically easy to establish with receipts or witness statements.
  • The customer caused your injuries. You must prove that you would not have been hurt but for the drunk driving accident.
  • The vendor caused the driver to be intoxicated. You must prove that the driver became drunk at the vendor’s business.
  • The value of your damages. Damages may include healthcare costs, lost income, out-of-pocket costs, pain, suffering, and other accident-related costs.

If a customer was drinking at more than one establishment, more than one vendor may be identified as a defendant in a dram shop case.

Illinois Social Host Law

While Illinois law holds many alcohol vendors liable for drunk driving injuries, the same is not true of the state’s social host liability law. Generally, Illinois does not have a social host law. That means that a party host is not liable for any injuries caused by intoxicated guests, even if the host should have known the guest was drunk. However, if the intoxicated guest was under the age of 21, the social host may be liable for any damages caused by the intoxicated guest in a drunk driving wreck.

How and Why to Identify Drunk Driving Defendants

After your accident, we encourage you to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with an Illinois personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Our legal team has represented tens of thousands of clients and recovered more than $1 billion on their behalf. We know what questions to ask you to ensure that all possible defendants are identified, and we will work hard to get you the recovery you deserve.

Even if the drunk driver who hit you was uninsured or didn’t have enough insurance coverage to pay your damages, you may be able to make a fair recovery. We will hold the drunk driver and, if appropriate, the alcohol vendor or other responsible third party accountable and help you recover for your past and future medical costs, lost income, out-of-pocket expenses, pain, and suffering.

Insurance companies know that we mean business and that often makes them more willing to settle claims with us. They know what we want you to know—if the insurance company won’t settle your claim fairly, we will not hesitate to go to trial to get you the fair recovery you deserve.

Contact us today to learn more about your rights and our Win or It’s Free Guarantee. We would be happy to provide you with a free consultation in our Bloomington, Gurnee, or Rockford office, in your home or hospital room, or by phone or video conference.

 

Jason F. Abraham
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Managing Partner, Hupy and Abraham