The dangers and tragedies of drunk driving is known by just about everyone.  The subject of civil liability, however, is more complicated when the accident involves a drunk driver.  Most people recognize that the damages a victim sustains from the drunk driver will be paid from the insurance company that insured the car driven by the drunk driver. That’s very common in Missouri car accident cases, and it’s an area of personal injury law that the lawyers at McCollum & Griggs, handle often.   Unfortunately, the damages inflicted by drunk drivers are often much more serious than the ordinary traffic accident because of the recklessness highly inebriated drivers operate their motor vehicle.  Drunk driver accidents so very often make it difficult when there is not enough insurance from the drunk’s insurance policy to even cover medical bills or provide support for a child whose parent was killed.

However, the majority of people often do not realize that sometimes liability for the victim’s injuries can attach to a restaurant or bar that provided or served the alcohol to the drunk driver.  Under Missouri law there are two distinct reasons a bar or restaurant can be held responsible:

1)   The bar or restaurant knowingly serves alcohol to a “visibly intoxicated” customer and that customer then causes harm to another person;

2)   The bar or restaurant serves a minor no matter whether the minor acted drunk or not and then leaves the establishment and hurts themselves or others.

In the legal profession this is often called the “Dram Shop Law.”  Missouri has a very specific statute that imposes this liability on establishments that server alcohol by the drink or by the glass.  Missouri’s statute is designed to encourage the responsible alcohol service, and to provide a mechanism for third parties to file suit for injuries or deaths that result from violating the Dram Shop Law.

Therefore, restaurants and bars that are licensed to serve alcohol are required to do so responsibly.  They should utilize a restaurant industry-sponsored course known as TIPS, which trains bartenders and wait staff on the responsible service of alcohol, and how to effectively spot an intoxicated patron.  Unfortunately, all too often the defendant bar or restaurant was only interested in one thing, how much alcohol I can sell to make the most money possible.

These kinds of alcohol liability cases can be awful and the facts are so often horrific.  The injuries inflicted are commonly life changing.  I say this as an attorney who has seen more injuries and deaths due to this kind of irresponsible service of alcohol than I care to. Our community in Kansas City is a safer place because of this law.  Many bars and restaurants do serve alcohol responsibly.  However, when they don’t serve responsibly that establishment needs to held accountable.   Establishments that serve their customers to extreme levels of intoxication must pay the price for endangering our city.  The more often our community force them to pay that price the more bars and restaurants that will implement policies and training to make Kansas City a safer place to live, work and raise our children.

The personal injury attorneys at McCollum & Griggs know how to investigate and litigate these cases very effectively.  If you know of someone who was injured in connection with negligent service of alcohol, please contact us.  The initial consultation is free.