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Can I sue the bar for a drunk driving accident?

Despite the public's continuous warnings about the dangers of drunk driving, Ohio still receives a substantial amount of fatal crashes that result from driving under the influence. While intoxicated drivers are liable already for their negligent actions, there may be another person at fault who was not in the car with them.

Drunk drivers have to get their alcohol from somewhere. Many clients wonder if they can hold a bar owner or employee liable for damages and personal injury if they were the source of the driver's intoxication. While it is not a straightforward process, it is possible to do so. It is vital to understand how you can find a bar worker liable for a drunk driving accident if you want compensation for any major damages you received from the incident.

Understanding the dram shop laws

Like most states, Ohio has its own set of "dram shop" laws. These laws allow drunk driving accident victims to sue any bartender or alcohol retailer for additional damages alongside the driver. Generally, you cannot hold a vendor liable unless any acts of personal injury, death or property damage occur on their premises. So if you were hurt by a drunk pedestrian at the bar or in the parking lot of the bar, it is easier to hold the bartender liable.

However, there are two ways you can hold the retailer liable if this occurs off premises. If the person the bartender sold the alcohol to was clearly heavily intoxicated already or if the buyer was under 21, then you have a cause of action against the bartender.

The underage condition can be easy to prove by checking transaction history and the driver's age. However, claiming that the buyer was already drunk when the bartender sold them the drink might be difficult. The bartender may have not seen any signs and did not know that person would drive. You can check to see if there were any witnesses or use the driver's blood alcohol level as potential evidence against them.

Social gatherings are different

Though the dram shop laws can help you find liability for bartenders, alcohol venders or restaurant employees, not all of the same rules apply when it comes to parties or social events. Hosts may be guilty of giving alcohol to an already intoxicated individual, but it is more difficult to prove it with them than with a bartender because the alcohol was likely not purchased by the driver. There is no transaction history that you can provide in court like you could with an alcohol vender.

However, thanks to Ohio's social host liability laws, you can find the host liable if the drunk driver is a minor. These are more likely to happen here than in a bar since bartenders and alcohol vendors are required by the state to check a purchaser's identification.

If a bartender, vendor or social host gave alcohol to an intoxicated driver that crashed into you, you should seek legal assistance to determine their liability. You need as much compensation as you can get to recover from the accident and the damages that came with it.

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