Dram shop laws establish liability on the part of bars and liquor stores that illegally sell/serve alcohol to an individual who then causes damages to a third person.
The most common illegal sales occur when a bar sells an alcoholic beverage to an obviously intoxicated person. Other illegal sales include: selling alcohol without a liquor license, selling alcohol after hours, or selling alcohol to a minor.
A dram shop claim typically arises in one of two situations: an auto accident where the at-fault driver is intoxicated or in an assault case where the attacker is intoxicated. There are four elements which must be proved in order to bring a dram shop claim in Minnesota:
- An illegal sale occurred;
- The illegal sale contributed to the defendant’s intoxication;
- The defendant’s intoxication was a direct cause of the plaintiff’s damages; and
- The plaintiff was damaged.
Often a dram shop claim is only one component of a larger personal injury claim. Dram shop claims can be difficult to spot, so it is important that one speak with an attorney with experience in this area to determine if such a claim is present.
Dram shop claims in Minnesota are governed by a two year statute of limitations; however, there may be much shorter notice provisions which must be complied with so that the claim is valid. It is critical to take action as soon as possible to preserve evidence, contact witnesses, file notices of claim and commence action promptly to ensure that your rights are protected. These cases tend to be very technical and are not easily handled by one unfamiliar with this area of practice.