Suing the Bar or Restaurant that Served Alcohol to the Drunk Driver

You may think that if a bar sells alcohol to a customer who then drives drunk, the bar is responsible if that person causes a car wreck.  However, this is not automatically the law in Georgia.  Instead, the law actually protects bars and restaurants from liability, except in limited circumstances.

The general rule in Georgia is that an establishment that serves alcohol to a customer is not liable for injuries caused by the customer, unless the injured party can show very specific facts:

  1. The injured victim must prove that the establishment knew that the customer was either (1) underage or (2) noticeably intoxicated.
  2. The victim must show that the establishment knew that the customer would be driving soon.
  3. The victim must prove that the customer’s intoxication was what caused the car crash.

How Are These Factors Proven?

It can be very difficult to prove these three things, and it’s important to have Atlanta car accident lawyers who know how to prove this for the injured victim. For example, it can be difficult to prove that the bartender knew the person was noticeably intoxicated.  However, the testimony of other patrons in the bar can help establish that the customer was slurring his words, had bloodshot eyes, was stumbling, etc.  Also, an expert like a toxicologist might be used to testify that, based on the number of drinks a person consumed, he or she would have been noticeably intoxicated at the time.

Similarly, it can be difficult to prove that the bar or restaurant knowingly served alcohol to an underage person. But, experienced Atlanta injury lawyers can help gather evidence, such as showing that the establishment does not have sufficient policies regarding checking I.D., or if it does have such policies, the server failed to follow them. The Supreme Court of Georgia has held that the server need not have actual knowledge of the person’s age.  Rather, it’s enough if the server “should have known” that the person was underage.

Likewise, an injured party does not have to prove that the bar or restaurant actually knew its customer would be driving soon.  Rather, the victim only needs to show that the establishment “should have known” that the customer would soon be driving. Again, experienced lawyers can search for witnesses to testify that the customer had car keys on the table or bar, or somehow voiced the intention to drive after leaving.

Lastly, the victim must show that the alcohol was what caused the car crash.  It may seem obvious if the person was drunk, but the injured party must still prove that “but for” the consumption of too many drinks, the accident would not have happened.  Again, this can best be accomplished through the testimony of a toxicologist or chemist, who can establish that, based on the number of drinks and the time span, the driver’s motor skills were impaired.

How an Atlanta Car Accident Lawyer Can Help You

Aggressive and thorough investigation of the facts is necessary to prove your case. It’s very important to act quickly so that your Georgia car accident attorney can contact the restaurant immediately and make it preserve key evidence like security camera footage, and so that attorneys can start to look for eyewitnesses while they still have a clear memory of what happened.

Most bars and restaurants that serve alcohol carry liability insurance to protect themselves from claims involving drunk drivers who’ve been overserved.  We help clients navigate the difficulties encountered when pursuing such a claim.  If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident involving a drunk driver, contact the Atlanta car accident attorneys at Andersen Tate & Carr, P.C. for a free consultation.