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Are Bars Liable for Drunk Drivers in Minnesota?

May 15, 2024 – Paul W. Schroepfer & Robert A. Correia

are bars liable for drunk drivers

You’ve likely seen the headlines: a drunk driver causes a devastating accident that seriously injures or even kills someone. It’s a tragic scenario that plays out far too often on Minnesota roads. As the victim of such an accident, you may be left with severe injuries, astronomical medical bills, and a long road to recovery. 

While the drunk driver is clearly at fault, you later find out that they had gotten drunk at a bar before getting behind the wheel. This leads to the question: are bars liable for drunk drivers in Minnesota? Can they be held responsible for the injuries and damages caused by their intoxicated patrons? The answer is yes – under certain circumstances, Minnesota law allows bars to be held liable for the actions of drunk drivers. A DUI accident attorney from Robichaud, Schroepfer & Correia shares what you need to know.

Understanding Dram Shop Law

In Minnesota, the “Dram Shop Law” holds establishments accountable for overserving alcohol to visibly intoxicated individuals or minors. The law recognizes that bars, restaurants, and other establishments have a responsibility to serve alcohol responsibly and to cut off patrons who have had too much to drink.

Under Minnesota’s Dram Shop Law, if a bar or restaurant serves alcohol to an obviously intoxicated person, and that person goes on to cause an accident that injures someone else, the establishment can be held liable for the resulting damages. This means that if you were injured by a drunk driver who had been overserved at a bar, you may have a legal claim against the bar in addition to the drunk driver.

Criminal Charges vs. Civil Lawsuits

While Minnesota’s Dram Shop Law allows bars to be held liable for the actions of drunk drivers, it’s important to understand the difference between criminal charges and civil lawsuits in these cases.

Criminal charges are brought by the government against an individual or entity for violating the law. In the case of a bar overserving a patron who later causes a drunk driving accident, it is rare for the bar to face criminal charges as illustrated in a KARE 11 investigation. The criminal justice system typically focuses on the drunk driver’s actions rather than the bar’s role in the incident.

However, even if a bar does not face criminal charges, it can still be held liable through a civil lawsuit. A civil lawsuit is brought by an individual (the plaintiff) against another individual or entity (the defendant) for causing harm or damages. In the context of Dram Shop Laws, the injured victim of a drunk driving accident (the plaintiff) can file a civil lawsuit against the bar (the defendant) for overserving the drunk driver.

In a civil lawsuit, the plaintiff must prove that the bar’s negligence in overserving the drunk driver directly contributed to their injuries and damages. If successful, the plaintiff may be awarded compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other related costs.

If you’re a victim of a drunk driving accident, it’s crucial to understand your legal rights and options when it comes to holding bars accountable. While criminal charges against bars are uncommon, civil lawsuits can provide a path to justice and compensation if you have suffered due to a bar’s negligence.

Proving Liability

To hold a bar liable for your injuries caused by a drunk driver, you must be able to prove that the bar served alcohol to the driver when they were obviously intoxicated. This can be challenging, as it requires evidence of the driver’s visible intoxication at the time they were served which typically involves expert witnessess.

Evidence that can help prove a bar’s liability may include:

  • Eyewitness accounts from other patrons or staff members who observed the driver’s intoxicated behavior 
  • Video surveillance footage from the bar showing the driver’s level of intoxication 
  • Receipts or credit card statements showing the number of drinks the driver purchased 
  • Blood alcohol content (BAC) test results from the driver after the accident

Damages You Can Recover

If you can successfully prove that a bar is liable for your injuries caused by a drunk driver, you may be able to recover compensation for:

  • Medical expenses related to your injuries 
  • Lost wages due to time missed from work 
  • Property damage to your vehicle 
  • Pain and suffering 
  • Emotional distress 
  • Loss of enjoyment of life

The amount of compensation you can recover will depend on the severity of your injuries and the specific circumstances of your case.

Taking Legal Action

If you’ve been injured by a drunk driver in Minnesota and believe that a bar may be liable for your damages, it’s essential to take swift legal action. You should contact an experienced Minneapolis accident attorney who can help you navigate the complex legal process and fight for fair compensation.

Your attorney will investigate the accident, gather evidence, and build a strong case on your behalf. They will also handle all communication with the bar’s insurance company and legal team, ensuring that your rights are protected every step of the way.

Being injured by a drunk driver is a traumatic experience that can leave you with significant physical, emotional, and financial challenges. However, it’s important to remember that you have legal options available to you. Under Minnesota’s Dram Shop Law, bars and other establishments can be held liable for overserving alcohol to visibly intoxicated individuals who go on to cause accidents and injuries.

Have You Been Injured by a Drunk Driver in Minnesota?

If you or a loved one has been injured by a drunk driver in Minnesota, you may be feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, and unsure of where to turn for help. At Robichaud, Schroepfer & Correia, we understand the physical, emotional, and financial toll that a drunk driving accident can take on victims and their families. Our experienced Minneapolis drunk driver accident lawyers are here to provide the compassionate support and aggressive legal representation you need during this challenging time.

We can help you hold not only the drunk driver accountable but also the bar or establishment that overserved them. We believe that everyone in the chain of responsibility should be held liable for their actions, and we will work tirelessly to pursue justice on your behalf.

Our team has a proven track record of success in handling complex drunk driving accident cases, and we’re ready to put our skills and resources to work for you. We’ll thoroughly investigate your case, gather crucial evidence, and build a strong legal strategy to help you secure the full compensation you’re entitled to under the law for your injuries, medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages.

At Robichaud, Schroepfer & Correia, we believe that you shouldn’t have to worry about legal fees while you’re focusing on your recovery. That’s why we work on a contingency basis, meaning you won’t owe us anything unless we win your case. We’re here to be your advocates and allies every step of the way.

If you or someone you love has been the victim of a drunk driving accident in Minnesota, don’t wait to get the legal help you need. Contact our team today by calling (612) 333-3343 or filling out our online form to schedule a FREE consultation. Let us fight for your rights and help you take the first step toward rebuilding your life after a devastating drunk driving accident.

Copyright © 2024. Robichaud, Schroepfer & Correia, P.A. All rights reserved.

The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting based on any information included in or accessible through this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country, or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.

Robichaud, Schroepfer & Correia, P.A.
1601 HENNEPIN AVE, SUITE 200
MINNEAPOLIS, MN 55403
(612) 333-3343
https://www.robichaudlaw.com/ 

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