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Drunk driving is a problem across all 50 states in the United States. Driving while drunk impairs the driver’s reflexes and perceptions and can result in accidents that result in death or injury. A Centers for Disease Control (CDC) report from 2012 saw the highest rate of deaths in drunk driving accidents among the 21 to 34 age group. The statistics from Colorado mirror the national trend.
Across the U.S., all states have enacted regulations to prohibit drunk driving and protect the public from the devastating consequences it can result in. Apart from laws that make it illegal to drive drunk, there are also laws that regulate businesses that sell alcohol and social hosts who serve alcohol. If you have been injured in an accident caused by a drunk driver, you should speak to an attorney who can assess your case and advise you on your rights. The Denver personal injury attorneys at Fuicelli & Lee, can help you make sense of your legal position. Contact us today for a free consultation.
Why Choose Fuicelli & Lee
- At Fuicelli & Lee, all of our attorneys are former prosecutors with 20+ years of experience. We are not intimidated by the idea of going to trial to get justice for our clients because we have the experience needed to win in court.
- Our motto “Experience Matters” is a reflection on the drive, track record, and relentless pursuit of justice held by our attorneys.
- We service all of Colorado. We offer virtual case management from initial consultation through settlement if that is what the client desires. We are tech-forward – text, e-signing, and emailing are key components of our virtual case management.
Call us today for an honest and straightforward assessment of your case. Your initial consultation is free, so call (303) 355-7202 now to schedule an appointment with one of our experienced Denver Dram Shop liquor liability lawyer.
Responsibility for Serving and Selling Alcohol in Denver
Colorado law does not only seek to regulate those who consume alcohol, but also those who serve or sell alcohol. The social impact of drunk driving is so critical that in some instances the responsibility for preventing the negative outcomes of excessive drinking is placed on those who serve or sell alcohol.
Serving Alcohol at Parties and Social Gatherings
Under Colorado’s Dram Shop Act, any person who socially hosts a gathering where alcohol is served will be liable for any death or injury caused by their guests if:
- It is proved that they knowingly served alcohol to any guests under the age of twenty-one at the gathering; or
- It is proved that they provided the under-aged person a place for alcohol consumption.
Selling Alcohol in Licensed Shops
Colorado’s Dram Shop Act provides that licensed shops that sell alcohol will be liable for any death or injury caused by a person in either of two circumstances:
- If it is proven that they willfully and knowingly sold alcohol to a person under the age of twenty-one years; or
- If they willfully and knowingly sold alcohol to a person who was visibly intoxicated.
Liability for Selling Alcohol Against the Dram Shop Act
Those who serve or sell alcohol under the prohibited circumstances can be held responsible for any injuries or death caused by the person who consumed the alcohol. For example, if an underage person leaves a party where they were knowingly served alcohol, and they injure or cause the death of a third party, the host of the party could be held liable for the injuries or death of that third party.
If it is proved that they violated the law, the maximum amount of loss they can be responsible for is $150,000. Note that any action against a person who violates the Dram Shop Act must be taken within a year of the sale of the alcohol, or within a year of when the alcohol was served or made available by a social host.
However, the Dram Shop Act also excludes the person who was sold alcohol and their family from claiming damages from a licensed shop or social host for any injury or death suffered by that person. In essence, the law is for the benefit of a person injured by an intoxicated person who can get compensation from the person who sold or provided the alcohol to the intoxicated person.
In addition, a licensed store that sells or gives alcohol to a person in violation of the law could lose their lease on the property where they sell alcohol.
How Is the Dram Shop Act Different From Negligence
Generally, in an action for negligence, an injured person must show that their injury was a reasonably foreseeable outcome of the responsible person or entity’s actions or misconduct. For example, if a person slips and falls from a poorly constructed platform in a nightclub, their injury is a reasonably foreseeable outcome. It is reasonably foreseeable that patrons of a nightclub can get injured if all the structures in the nightclub are not adequately constructed for the purpose.
Injury from a poorly constructed platform is a reasonably foreseeable consequence and would be actionable as a premises liability case. But what about an intoxicated patron stabbing another person two blocks away from the nightclub? Such action is arguably an unforeseeable consequence of a nightclub serving a customer alcohol. Therefore, if an injured person were to rely on actions based on negligence or premises liability, for instance, the nightclub patron would have no connection with the injured person. Liability for their injury would instead fall on the shoulders of the intoxicated person whose actions caused the injury.
However, Colorado’s Dram Shop Act and other such laws across the country are a response to the increasing number and severity of alcohol-related injuries.
Who Is Responsible for My Injury?
To get compensation from a vendor or provider of alcohol, any person injured by an intoxicated person must rely on the provisions of the Dram Shop Act. Whether an alcohol vendor or provider is responsible for your injury will depend on the specific facts of your case. A Denver Dram-Shop liquor liability attorney who understands the laws and how the courts interpret its provisions will be able to advise you on your legal options.
Contact the Denver Attorneys at Fuicelli & Lee for Help
If you have been injured by an intoxicated person and you want to make a claim against the person or entity who provided them with the alcohol, we are here to help you. For more information, call us today at (303) 355-7202.