Everyone knows that drinking and driving is a crime in Minnesota and Wisconsin, just like everyone knows it is illegal to purchase alcohol if you are under the age of 21. But what you may not know is that liquor vendors, such as bar or restaurants, can be held liable in civil court for damages caused by their inebriated customers. In certain circumstances, people who were injured by a drunk driver can pursue a lawsuit against the vendors who illegally served alcohol to the driver. The laws that permit these types of claims are often referred to as “dram shop” laws.
Dram Shop in Minnesota
In Minnesota, it is illegal for a liquor vendor to sell alcohol to anyone under the age of 21 or to an obviously intoxicated person. If the consumer then goes on to cause injuries to a third party, the vendor can be held liable if it is shown that the illegal sale caused or contributed to the damages. These damages can consist of medical expenses, pain and suffering, loss of means of support, and monetary loss. A private homeowner can also be found liable according to something called “social host liability”. If a homeowner has control over their residence and sells or provides alcohol to a person under the age of 21, they can be held liable for injuries caused by that person as a result of their drunkenness.
Dram Shop in Wisconsin
Wisconsin’s dram shop laws are quite different than Minnesota’s. Wisconsin Statute § 125.035 states that, in most cases, a person cannot be held liable for providing or selling alcohol to someone who causes injury to another person while they are drunk. However, there are some important exceptions. If the alcohol is served by force or deception, such as by falsely claiming that a beverage is alcohol-free, liability does apply. Vendors can also be held liable for damages caused by their customers if they sell alcohol to someone under the age of 21, unless the customer provides a convincing fake ID and appears to be above the age of 21. In any case, it must be shown that the alcohol was a “substantial factor” in the events that caused the injuries.
Dram shop claims involve many complicated details, including giving timely notice of the claim to any liquor vendor which you intend to sue. If you were injured by someone that you believe may have been wrongfully served alcohol, you should contact an attorney immediately to discuss your potential claim. These claims can arise from car crashes, assaults, or wrongful deaths.
If you or a loved one have been injured or have a legal issue, call our office at 651-493-0426 to schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced attorneys.