Are Bars Liable for Car Accident Injuries? Dram Shop and Liquor Liability in Spokane WA

August 3, 2016

If you have been injured by a driver who should have been in an Uber instead of behind the wheel, contact us today for a free and confidential consultation. Established in 1948, CCD Law has recovered millions in compensation for our injured clients in and around Spokane.

What’s a dram shop?

The word “dram” came over on the Mayflower. A dram is a measure of gin equal to 60 grains or one-eighth of an ounce that was sold in dram shops in Great Britain.

Dram shop laws are in place in one form or another in most states. Although Washington doesn’t have a dram shop statute, it does have a liquor liability statute that forbids the sale of alcoholic beverages to customers who might already be under its influence.

What Washington’s liquor liability law prohibits

Washington repealed its actual dram shop act and replaced it with its liquor liability law found in RCW 66.44.200. The statute is really quite simple. It’s against the law to sell liquor to somebody who appears to be under its influence, and it’s against the law for somebody who appears to bee under the influence of liquor to purchase it. Both prohibitions apply to any state licensed premises. If drunken customer leaves a bar and injures or kills somebody, the bar that the drunken customer left can be held liable along with the drunken customer. This is particularly important when an intoxicated driver is uninsured or underinsured, and severely injures or kills somebody. Other Washington statutes provide that if a bartender allows somebody to get drunk enough, and that person hurts somebody bad enough, the bartender can be prosecuted in the criminal courts.

Social host liability

Liability of a social host in Washington can attach if two conditions are met. First, the allegedly liable person wouldn’t be a licensed seller of alcoholic beverages. He or she would be a social host. Second, the injury must have been caused by a person who was intoxicated and under 21-years-old. Potential social host liability becomes a moot issue when the allegedly intoxicated person reaches adulthood.

There’s a time limit to file your lawsuit

The general rule in Washington is that you have three years from the date of your injury to file your lawsuit. Failure to file within that three year statute of limitations can forever bar you from seeking compensation from any person or entity that you believe is responsible for your injuries. Regardless of the rather lengthy time period for bringing an action, you should act quickly, and call us as soon as possible. Evidence can disappear, witnesses can disappear, and the drunk driver who caused your crash can disappear too.

If you were injured

If you or a loved one was injured by a DUI or DWI driver in or around Spokane it is important to speak to an experienced Spokane car accident lawyer as soon as possible.

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