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Who is liable for drunk driving accidents under Indiana's dram shop law?

Lafayette, IN auto accident

Drunk driving is a leading cause of severe crash-related injuries and fatalities across Indiana. In 2018, approximately 227 out of 858 statewide traffic fatalities were alcohol-related, according to the NHTSA.

Drunk driving is completely preventable. Drivers can make a choice to either get behind the wheel after having too much to drink or find a responsible alternative.

In some cases, another party responsible for serving alcohol to someone who causes a crash can be held accountable, under Indiana's dram shop laws.

What is Indiana's dram shop law?

A dram shop law holds bars, restaurants, breweries, distilleries, liquor stores, and other establishments accountable for gross negligence in drunk driving crashes.

For example, they can be held accountable when:

  • They serve alcohol to an individual who shows obvious signs of impairment and that individual then drives and causes a crash.
  • They serve alcohol to a person under the age of 21 and that person then causes a crash.

Indiana's dram shop law doesn't only apply to businesses and establishments that serve alcohol. They can also apply to those who host parties and events (such as dinner parties or work parties).

Investigating drunk driving crashes

Drunk driving crashes often require in-depth investigations. When a drunk driver causes a crash, a citation or arrest documented on the police report will prove that the driver was impaired. Through further probing, an Indiana car accident attorney may find additional responsible parties.

Establishments and individuals who serve alcohol aren't always responsible for contributing to drunk driving crashes, however. The driver who caused your crash may have only had a couple of drinks while attending a bar or party. The driver could have been completely sober at the time of purchasing alcohol from a liquor store. The same driver could have had too much to drink at home or at a friend or family member's house before causing your crash. That's why a thorough investigation is needed.

Finding proof that an establishment or individual knowingly served alcohol to an impaired patron or minor may be discovered by:

  • The driver's own statement or admittance of fault
  • Witnesses
  • Surveillance camera footage
  • Statements made by police
  • Receipts and/or credit card purchases
  • Cellphone records
  • Social media posts

Once an establishment or individual has been found responsible for serving alcohol to the driver who caused your crash, you may be able to pursue a dram shop claim.

How can a car accident attorney help me get started?

If you were injured in a drunk driving crash, the attorneys at Vaughan & Vaughan will identify responsible parties. We will also help you get the right medical care. Our lawyers can also recover damages for medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering. We may also be able to pursue punitive damages to punish the driver and the party who served them alcohol.

To learn more about the legal options available to you, fill out our contact form online or call our Lafayette law office at (765) 742-0056.

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