Wrongful Death Claims & Dram Shop Laws

From Citizens Voice:

The husband of the triathlete killed by an alleged drunken driver while jogging in Harveys Lake in June has filed suit against the driver as well as two area businesses he alleges were negligent in serving alcohol to a drunken man.

The lawsuit, filed by Factoryville resident Brian A. Jones, targets Michael Scavone, 50, who police say had a blood-alcohol more than two and a half times the legal limit for driving hours after he allegedly struck and killed triathlete Paula Jones as she jogged along Lakeside Drive last month.

The wrongful death lawsuit also names American Legion Post 672 in Dallas as well as businesses and people associated with Grotto Pizza in Harveys Lake, which Jones contends violated state liquor laws by serving alcohol to Scavone after he was visibly drunk.

From the National Conference of State Legislatures:

Thirty states have statutory provisions that allow licensed establishments such as restaurants, bars, and liquor stores to be held liable for selling or serving alcohol to individuals who cause injuries or death as a result of their intoxication.

Twenty-two of the 30 states statutorily limit the liability to cases where the establishment sold or served alcohol to an obviously intoxicated individual or a person under the legal drinking age. The 22 states are Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Statutes in Louisiana exempt licensed establishments from liability except in the cases where they serve a person under the legal drinking age. Nevada and South Dakota exempt licensed establishments from liability.

In short, when a drunk driver kills someone, the estate may or may not be able to bring a wrongful death claim against the bar/institution that served the alcohol depending on the state and the facts and circumstances of each case.

A wrongful death claim may or may not be brought against a third party who served alcohol depending on the state's dram shop laws.
A wrongful death claim may or may not be brought against a third party who served alcohol depending on the state’s dram shop laws.