If you're injured in a drunk driving accident, you could suffer life-altering circumstances, such as paralysis, back and spinal injuries, internal organ damage, or traumatic brain injury. In Missouri, the inebriated driver is responsible for fully compensating for your injuries.
However, he may not have sufficient insurance coverage or assets to pay what you are owed. By pursuing claims against other liable parties, such as the bar or restaurant that served the alcohol to the driver, you increase the likelihood that you'll be fully compensated.
What Is Missouri’s Dram Shop Law?
Dram shop laws are enacted to hold businesses liable to victims if they sell alcohol to an intoxicated individual who then causes a tragic drunk driving accident. In Missouri, to be liable under the state’s dram shop law, the seller must be licensed to sell alcohol for consumption on the seller’s property.
This means bars, taverns, and restaurants that sell alcohol could face liability, but liquor stores, convenience stores, and grocery stores that sell alcohol would not.
A vendor could be liable for selling alcohol to the following people:
- A minor under age 21, whether or not the minor appeared intoxicated
- A person who was visibly intoxicated
Standard of Proof in Dram Shop Claims
In most cases, you must prove your right to compensation by a preponderance of the evidence. This basically means it was more likely than not that the negligent party caused your injuries.
In a dram shop action, you must prove by clear and convincing evidence the bar or restaurant continued to serve an individual alcohol when he was visibly intoxicated. This is a much higher standard of proof than preponderance of the evidence. To meet this burden of proof, you must establish the evidence is highly and substantially more probable to be true than untrue.
While this may seem daunting, an experienced drunk driving accident lawyer understands what evidence will be necessary to hold the bar or restaurant accountable. This is just one reason why it's crucial to retain an attorney as soon as possible after your accident. You want to do this as soon as possible after your collision so he can thoroughly investigate the wreck and obtain evidence before it's lost or destroyed.
Is There a Cap on Damages in Dram Shop Claims?
In Missouri, there isn't a cap on the amount of compensation a victim of a drunk driving accident can recover. You're entitled to be fully compensated for your losses. This includes:
- Doctors’ appointments, surgery, physical therapy, medications, and other medical expenses
- Lost wages, including past and future wages, lost sick and vacation time, and lost earning capacity if you must make a career change or become permanently disabled due to your injuries
- Pain and suffering
- Wrongful death damages if a loved one died in the accident
Statute of Limitations in Dram Shop Actions
The statute of limitations is the time period you have to file a dram shop lawsuit against the bar or restaurant. If you fail to file your lawsuit within this time period, you waive your right to do so.
The time period to file a lawsuit is five years from the date of your injury. However, you strengthen your claim significantly if you don't wait until near the expiration of the statute of limitations to contact an attorney.
Missouri’s Social Host Law
A social host law makes individuals who serve alcohol to a minor or an intoxicated adult liable for compensating victims of a drunk driving accident.
In Missouri, there's not a social host law that permits pursing this type of claim. However, a person who serves alcohol to a minor under 21, or allows a minor to consume alcohol on his property, could face criminal charges with penalties that include up to one year in jail and fines.
Have You Been Injured By A Drunk Driver?
If you've been injured by a drunk driver you need to speak with an experienced drunk driving victim attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Kansas City office directly at 816.471.5111 to schedule your free consultation.