Arkansas is one of the strictest states with regard to alcohol, so it is not surprising that its laws are also strict regarding driving under the influence (DUI). Arkansas is one of only 12 states that does not serve liquor on Sundays (and it doesn’t allow the sale of liquor on Christmas Day, either). On top of that, about half of Arkansas’ counties are dry counties that do not allow the sale of alcohol (though specific cities might allow it anyway). One of the best laws that has a real effect on the lives of the victims of DUI is the “dram shop” act.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident in Arkansas, especially a DUI accident, it is vital that you talk to an attorney. Fayetteville car accident attorney Ken Kieklak may be able to recover compensation you need to compensate you for medical bills, lost wages, and your pain and suffering – and the Dram Shop Act may help.
Liquor Sellers can be Held Accountable for Injuries
A “dram shop” law has been enacted in 43 states and Washington, D.C., with only Delaware, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Nebraska, Nevada, South Dakota, and Virginia left out. The general goal of these laws is to help those who are injured by drunk drivers get compensation for their injuries. While car insurance and the drunk driver might be required to pay, either in a civil lawsuit or as part of their criminal penalties, this law does something interesting. When a bar, restaurant, or other establishment serves someone alcohol, then allows them to get behind the wheel of the car, dram shop laws open them to liability for the injuries the drunk driver causes.
Usually, the bar, liquor store, or restaurant that serves someone alcohol is not responsible for the decisions the person makes after. It isn’t typically the bar’s fault if a drunk person starts a fight or falls and hurts themselves. However, the dram shop act opens them to liability specifically for overserving patrons, or for serving patrons who are under-aged.
Arkansas Code § 16-126-103 and 104 make up the vital components of the Dram Shop Act in Arkansas’ laws. Both sections put the legal “liability” for injuries caused by a drunk person, in part, on the retailer that sells the alcohol. § 103 does this for sale of alcohol to someone uner 21 years-old, and § 104 does this for sale of alcohol to a “clearly intoxicated person.” This generally covers any personal injuries these people cause after drinking, not just car accident injuries.
For this law to trigger, the establishment selling the alcohol must know that they are selling to a minor or an intoxicated person. Alternatively, if there are circumstances such that the seller “should have known” the patron was a minor, the law still triggers. For selling to an intoxicated person, the patron must be “so obviously intoxicated to the extent that … he or she presents a clear danger to others.”
Compensation for Drunk Driving Victims in Arkansas
If a drunk driver injured you or a loved one, you might be entitled to compensation for your injuries. For car accident deaths, the surviving family members may also be entitled to compensation for their loss. While money can never turn a serious injury (like traumatic brain injury) back to the way it was, and can never replace a lost loved one, it can still help you pay for medical expenses, lost wages, and to compensate the suffering.
Filing a lawsuit may be the only way to recover for these injuries. Certainly, car insurance may be available to pay for the injuries from a car accident. This can mean that the at-fault, drunk driver’s insurance will pay for your injuries – but only to an extent. Insurance may fail to pay for all medical expenses, may not fully compensate your lost wages, and will likely not pay for your pain and suffering. This may mean you need to take your case to court.
Filing a lawsuit is the only way to take full advantage of the dram shop laws in Arkansas. Insurance pays only for the errors of the driver, not the errors of a bar or another alcohol seller. This means that, in order to receive the compensation the retailer may be responsible for, you need to take them to court. An attorney can help you decide the best legal strategy for receiving compensation and guide you toward a settlement that will best address your needs as a victim.
Fayetteville, Arkansas Car Accident Attorney
Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law, fights to help injured victims of DUI accidents. Because you might be entitled to substantial compensation for your own injuries in a DUI crash, or for the loss of a loved one, talk to an attorney right away. For a free consultation and to understand what your case might be worth, call (479) 439-1843 today.