Dram Shop / Drunk Driver Accidents

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Dram Shop Laws (Drunk Drivers and Injuries Caused By Drinking)

If a patron becomes intoxicated in a Vermont restaurant, bar, pub, tavern or alehouse, and then proceeds to cause injury to another person, the injured party is legally permitted to seek damages from the intoxicated party. In certain situations, however, the merchant who provided the alcohol might also be considered liable. Even if you drank too much yourself at such an establishment or party, and were injured, you might have rights to compensation.

The type of law that permits the injured party to seek damages from the merchant is commonly known as a “dram shop law.” Dram shop laws in the State of Vermont also permit an injured party to seek damages from social hosts who offer alcohol at their parties, barbeques, or other gatherings to minors, if the host knew or had reason to know that the person was a minor.

If you have been injured, whether by a drunk driver or anyone who was drinking at an establishment or a party, or a loved one has died as a result, contact Kohn Rath Danon Lynch & Scharf, LLP.  Let us help you today in seeking the financial reimbursement you deserve.

Dram Shop Law in Vermont

According to Vermont Statutes Title 7, Section 501, a person who is injured physically or suffers damage to their property or means of support by an person who is intoxicated can bring forward a civil lawsuit for damages against the person or persons who supplied the alcohol or liquor to the intoxicated person if:

  • The intoxicated person was under the legal drinking age of 21 years old;
  • The intoxicated person appeared to already be under the influence of alcohol when he or she was served;
  • The alcohol was supplied outside of legal serving hours; and/or
  • It would be reasonable to think that the intoxicated person was already intoxicated when he or she was served, when the amount of alcohol that person had already consumed is taken into account.

The guardian, child, spouse, or employer of the person who has sustained the injury can also make a claim. If the merchant or host was offering the alcohol from the inside of a rental unit, a lawsuit can also be filed against the landlord of the rental property, provided that the landlord was aware of or had reason to be aware of the fact that alcohol was being served to those not of legal drinking age, apparently intoxicated individuals, or outside of legal serving hours.

Vermont’s state laws regarding third-party responsibility for any alcohol-related incidents are recognized as some of the most lenient in the United States.

The Vermont dram shop statute is complex, and what is set forth here is only a general outline; contact us for more specific information.

Social Host Liability in Vermont

In the State of Vermont, social hosts who hold private parties can be held accountable under the very same law that permits these dram shop suits to also be brought against merchants if the host knew or had reason to know that the person being served was a minor.

Damages and Time Constraints for Filing Alcohol-Related Accident Claims in Vermont

The different kinds of damages that are eligible to be pursued in a dram shop or social host liability case will vary greatly depending largely on the exact losses and injuries that were sustained during the accident. Some of the more typical kinds of compensation pursued in these types of cases include, but are not limited, to:

  • Medical bills and other medical related expenses;
  • Lost wages due to the inability to work;
  • Damage of personal property; and
  • Pain and suffering.

In cases in which death results, there are specific types of damages available in connection with such “wrongful death” cases.

The State of Vermont has a statute of limitations that greatly restricts the amount of time which the injured party is given to file a social host liability or a dram shop lawsuit. These sorts of cases must be filed through the civil court system in Vermont within two years from the date of the injury. If you are unable or unwilling to have your case filed before the two-year deadline expires, then the opposing party is almost certainly going to file a motion with the court to have your lawsuit thrown out entirely, should you ever actually get around to filing it; and since the deadline has now come and gone, the court can be expected to allow the motion in which event your case will be summarily dismissed.

Call the law offices of Kohn Rath Danon Lynch & Scharf, LLP to speak with a reputable and knowledgeable attorney if you were injured by an intoxicated party or an intoxicated party caused the death of a loved one. Reach us at (802) 482-2905 and get your free, no-obligation consultation today. We want to help you whenever you need it.

Our Attorneys:

Kohn Rath Danon Lynch & Scharf, LLP is a  Vermont law firm located in the Town of Hinesburg, providing a broad and comprehensive array of legal services to our clients.  Our attorneys have experience in many practice areas of the law.

(Click on the name of a team member for additional information)

Roger E. Kohn
Roger E. Kohn
Partner - Former President of the Chittenden County Bar Association
David Rath
David Rath
Beth A. Danon
Beth A. Danon
Partner - Former President of the Vermont Association for Justice (the Vermont Trial Lawyers Association)
David W. Lynch
David W. Lynch

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