Many people may not know that if you’ve been involved in an accident caused by a drunk driver in Illinois, you can file a lawsuit against both the driver and vendor that sold them alcoholic beverages. This law is called a dram shop law, and Illinois is one of many states that have this law in place. The Illinois dram shop law is complex, so the legal team at Curcio Law Offices explains what it is and how it differs from other state laws below.
The Chicago personal injury attorneys at Curcio Law Offices have over 60 years of experience handling cases involving drunk drivers and the establishments that provided the alcohol. If you or a loved one were injured in an accident caused by a drunk driver, you have the right to pursue legal action against the responsible parties so that you can recover fair compensation for your injuries.
How Many Drunk Driving Deaths Occur in the U.S.?
In the United States, 32 people are killed every day in motor vehicle accidents involving an intoxicated person, according to the CDC. Based on this statistic, one person dies every 45 minutes. In 2020 alone, over 11,600 people died in alcohol-related motor vehicle accidents. These deaths accounted for 30% of all motor vehicle accidents that occurred in 2020 in the U.S., which was an increase of over 14% from 2019.
Illinois Drunk Driving Statistics
In 2020, 1,194 Illinois residents were killed in drunk driving traffic accidents based on data provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). These accidents make up 32% of all motor vehicle-related fatalities in Illinois during that year.
What Are Dram Shop Laws?
During the 18th century, taverns and bars in England measured the gin they sold to customers by the “dram,” which is the equivalent of ¾ of a teaspoon, which is how dram shop laws received their name.
In the United States, dram shop laws vary state by state, with 43 states having some version of the law in place. These third-party liability laws hold bars, restaurants, liquor stores, or other businesses liable if they serve alcohol to an intoxicated person or someone under the legal drinking age who causes an accident resulting in injury, death, or property damage to another. Dram shop laws allow people who have suffered injuries and property damage to pursue legal action against the shop or bar who served alcohol to the intoxicated individual who caused the accident. The intoxicated person can also be held liable for damages.
The states that have a version of dram shop laws in place can hold the establishment liable for selling alcohol to underage drinkers and/or to a visibly intoxicated person. In some states that have dram shop laws, it’s against the law for an establishment to sell alcohol to a visibly intoxicated customer or to an underage customer.
Some states, like Louisiana, don’t even have dram shop laws in place. In these states, the person incurring damages cannot pursue legal action against the bar or liquor store responsible for selling alcoholic beverages.
In order to prove dram shop liability in Illinois, though, the injured individual and their Chicago personal injury attorney must prove that the following circumstances occurred:
- The alcohol was served to an intoxicated individual at the dram shop,
- By selling alcohol to the individual, the accused dram shop contributed to their intoxication,
- The intoxicated individual got behind the wheel and caused an accident resulting in death or injury,
- And the injured individual suffered damages because of the accident that warrant financial compensation.
Illinois Dram Shop Law
Illinois is one of 43 states with a dram shop law. The Illinois Dram Shop Act gives a drunk driving accident victim the legal right to pursue damages against the dram shop that sold the alcoholic liquor to the person who contributed to their intoxication. The Illinois Liquor Control Commission ensures that all commercial establishments that sell alcoholic liquor comply with the provisions outlined in the Illinois Dram Shop Act.
The Illinois Dram Shop Act, also known as the Liquor Control Act, differs from other states with dram shop laws. According to this law, even if the dram shop did nothing illegal when they served the alcohol, they can still be held liable. The states that have dram shop laws typically only hold the dram shop liable if they sold alcohol to someone under the legal drinking age or to someone visibly intoxicated.
For example, if a person is at a party and is injured by an intoxicated individual, they can sue the person responsible for their injuries and sue the liquor store that sold the person the alcohol.
Illinois dram shop laws can hold a vendor and intoxicated person responsible for damages, but the laws do not include social host liability. Social hosts serving alcohol at their home or private function cannot face charges under the Illinois dram shop law. This includes social hosts that provide alcohol to underage drinkers. The social host also cannot be held liable if the teenager causes property damage or injury.
The only circumstance under the Illinois dram shop law that can find a non-vendor liable is if a person 21 years or older pays for a hotel or motel room where they know that underage drinking will occur. The person who purchased the hotel room can be held liable for any injuries or damages caused by the underage drinkers.
Dram shop laws are extremely complicated, especially in Illinois, which is why you need an experienced Chicago personal injury attorney to handle your case. The attorneys at Curcio Law Offices have the knowledge necessary to fight even the most complex drunk driving cases. Call Curcio Law Offices today to discuss your legal options with one of our attorneys.
Damages for a Drunk Driving Accident in Chicago
Chicago drunk driving attorneys at Curcio Law Offices have experience with pursuing legal action against alcohol vendors and drunk drivers. You could be entitled to financial compensation for the following damages:
- Medical expenses
- Physical therapy
- Loss of earning capacity if the injured person cannot perform their regular job responsibilities
- Lost wages
- Permanent disability, disfigurement, and scarring
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Counseling costs
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of consortium
- And more
If a drunk driver caused injuries to your loved one that resulted in their wrongful death, you can pursue legal action against both the driver and the dram shop. Contact Chicago wrongful death attorneys to learn more about your legal options and the compensation your family could receive.
Illinois Statute of Limitations for Drunk Driving Accidents
There is a strict time limit regarding Illinois dram shop laws and drunk driving accidents. The person injured or incurring property damage must file a lawsuit within one year of the accident.
If you’re pursuing legal action against the dram shop, the law limits the amount of money that can be awarded to the injured person. The statute allows room for annual increases and decreases to the dram shop’s financial liability in conjunction with the consumer price index.
It’s important to pursue legal action following an accident with a drunk driver as soon as possible to ensure that your personal injury claim falls within the statute of limitations.
Call Chicago Drunk Driving Lawyers at Curcio Law Offices Today
If you or a loved one were injured in an accident involving a drunk driver, you could file charges against both the driver and vendor responsible for selling them alcohol. The attorneys at Curcio Law Offices have experience handling cases against drunk drivers and dram shops for the residents of Chicago. Our vast knowledge of Illinois’ dram shop laws strengthens our ability to provide you with the best legal representation in the area. To learn more about Illinois dram shop claims and your legal options, call Curcio Law Offices today at 312-321-1111.