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Drunk driving accident liability - Connecticut's Dram Shop Act

Driving while impaired can, and often does result in motor vehicle accidents in Connecticut, and throughout the U.S. The organization, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, reports that more than 10,000 people were killed in drunk driving accidents in the U.S. in 2012 alone. Another 290,000 people, according to MADD, were injured that same year. At Loughlin FitzGerald, we hear from alcohol-related accident victims, and their families, every day, and we understand the devastating effects that these types of collisions can have.

While the driver who got behind the wheel after drinking alcohol and was involved in a collision is often held liable for the resulting injuries and deaths, there are also situations in which other parties, such as the businesses that furnished the alcohol to that person, could also be held financially responsible for damages. In this post, we will discuss such situations, and the state of Connecticut's Dram Shop Act.

Section 30-102 of the Connecticut General Statutes, also known as the Dram Shop Act, stipulates the state's rules and regulations regarding vendor liability for furnishing alcohol to an already intoxicated person. Under this statute, establishments that dispense alcohol, including bars, restaurants, liquor stores and social clubs, may be held liable for damages if they sell alcohol to a person, who is already drunk and then goes out and causes injury to another person.

Unlike some other types of personal injury lawsuits, there is a cap placed on dram shop claims. By law, people who are injured by an alcohol-impaired driver can seek a maximum of $250,000 in compensatory damages from the vendor that furnished the alcohol to the driver. These damages could be for losses related to hospital, medical and rehabilitative expenses, as well as lost wages and benefits, and other related costs. The amount of dram shop lawsuit awards is not affected by any direct-liability lawsuits that those who are injured also file.

There are time limits for taking legal action in dram shop cases. Under the act, people who intend to file dram shop claims must provide written notice to the establishment within 120 days of the date of the accident and resulting injury, or within 180 days of an incapacitating injury or death. The lawsuits themselves must then be filed within one year of the date accident date.

For more information, please visit our drunk driving accident page.

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