If you or a loved one were injured or killed in an auto accident by an illegally drunk driver, you may be able to recover damages from more than just the drunk driver’s insurance company. Laws are in place in Alabama called Dram Shop Laws that prohibit bars, restaurants and liquor stores from serving alcohol to customers they suspect are intoxicated or are under the legal drinking age. There are currently 30 states including Alabama that have laws in place where establishments can be held liable for selling or serving alcohol to individuals who cause injuries or death as a result of their intoxication, however twenty-two of those thirty states limit the statutory liability to serving obviously pre-existing drunk drivers more alcohol or serving alcohol to a minor.
In Alabama, the Dram Shop Law Civil Liability states in Ala. Code §6-5-71:
(a) Every wife, child, parent, or other person who shall be injured in person, property, or means of support by any intoxicated person or in consequence of the intoxication of any person shall have a right of action against any person who shall, by selling, giving, or otherwise disposing of to another, contrary to the provisions of law, any liquors or beverages, cause the intoxication of such person for all damages actually sustained, as well as exemplary damages.
(b) Upon the death of any party, the action or right of action will survive to or against his executor or administrator.
(c) The party injured, or his legal representative, may commence a joint or separate action against the person intoxicated or the person who furnished the liquor, and all such claims shall be by civil action in any court having jurisdiction thereof.”
Civil liability and the ability to recover damages extends to any person whether or not they are engaged in the business of selling alcohol. Criminal liability is limited and an employer can not be held criminally liable for the actions of an employee who commits a drunk driving offense or should have known that the employee was prone to this sort of conduct. As a result of this employers in Alabama should be more careful as to who they hire in the capacity of driver, and check the criminal dui records to establish whether or not they are at risk of hiring a person with a history of driving while intoxicated.
Ala. Code §6-11-27
(a) A principal, employer, or other master shall not be liable for punitive damages for intentional wrongful conduct or conduct involving malice based upon acts or omissions of an agent, employee, or servant of said principal, employer, or master unless the principal, employer, or master either: (i) knew or should have known of the unfitness of the agent, employee, or servant, and employed him or continued to employ him, or used his services without proper instruction with a disregard of the rights or safety of others; or (ii) authorized the wrongful conduct; or (iii) ratified the wrongful conduct; or unless the acts of the agent, servant or employee were calculated to or did benefit the principal, employer or other master, except where the plaintiff knowingly participated with the agent, servant, or employee to commit fraud or wrongful conduct with full knowledge of the import of his act.
(b) Nothing contained in this section shall be construed to prevent recovery of punitive damages against a retail vendor of alcoholic beverages arising out of the acts of its agents, servants, or employees acting within the line and scope of their employment.
At Ferguson & Ferguson , our drunk driving auto accident lawyers represent injury victims and the families of individuals killed in drunk driving accidents. We have successfully represented hundreds of victims and families in civil claims for damages against drunk drivers. If you or a loved one have been injured by a drunk driver, the Huntsville DUI accident attorneys at Ferguson & Ferguson can help. Call 256-534-3435.