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Understanding Colorado Dram Shop Laws

row of shots on a bar with car keys and handcuffs | Colorado Dram Shop Laws

Colorado dram shop laws allow those injured by people who were served alcohol at certain establishments, the right to sue for damages.

These types of lawsuits position bars, restaurants, taverns, and other similar establishments as the defendant, when one of their customers becomes intoxicated and injures someone in an accident.

Conditional on the evidence, if you can show that the drunk driver who caused your injuries became intoxicated in a bar, you could have a case against that establishment.

Types of Dram Shop Cases

There are two primary kinds of dram shop cases:

  1. First-party Dram Shop Cases. These cases result when the injured plaintiff is the individual who was sold the alcoholic beverages, and are specifically banned in some states. Even where first-party cases are permitted, they are seldom successful. Juries typically believe that each person is responsible for his or her own actions, and will be hesitant to hold the bar liable if an individual chooses to become intoxicated and drive away.
    Exceptions are made, however, if the injured plaintiff is a minor. Drinking establishments are typically held responsible in this situation.
  2. Third-party Dram Shop Cases.If the person injured is someone other than the one who was served alcohol, then a third-party dram shop case is the result.

Dram Shop Laws

Colorado dram shop laws outline the legal standard to which a plaintiff must adhere, the necessary evidence, and the damage caps for a dram shop case.

In order to prove the defendant drinking establishment was negligent, a third-party dram shop plaintiff must show the server continued to give the patron alcohol beyond the point where they should have reasonably known the patron was drunk.

If the plaintiff can show the defendant’s actions were reckless, meaning more “unreasonable” then negligent, he or she could possibly collect increased damages. Generally, this proof is mandatory in first-party cases.

Evidence to show negligence on the part of the drinking establishment could include:

  • Proof the bar did not request identification,
  • Proof the bar served an individual after closing time,
  • Proof the bar served an individual who already appeared inebriated,
  • Proof that the amount of alcohol served by the bar would likely intoxicate the individual being served.

Evidence to dispute negligence on the part of the drinking establishment could include:

  • Proof that its servers attend approved server education courses,
  • Proof the bar publicizes the accessibility of non-alcoholic beverages,
  • Proof the bar urges its patrons to not become inebriated,
  • Proof the bar advocates taking a taxi when a patron has had too much alcohol.

Damages in dram shop cases are capped in some states- sometimes as low as $250,000.

Furthermore, an injured person may only have as few as 60 days to formally notify the bar that they intend to file a dram shop case. The requirements differ from state to state.

The statute of limitations vary as well, and may be shorter than for standard personal injury claims.

Practice Areas Colorado Springs Car Accident Attorney Understanding Colorado Dram Shop Laws